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Celebration of life set for former Normal Town Council member Parker Lawlis

Former Normal Town Council member Parker Lawlis.
YWCA McLean County
Former Normal Town Council member Parker Lawlis.

A longtime public official in Bloomington-Normal recently passed away and will be remembered this weekend at a visitation.

Parker Lawlis died April 29 at age 88. He had a long career at Illinois State University in human resources. He also served 25 years on the Normal Town Council. Current City Manager Pam Reece said Lawlis sat on the council from 1979 to 1995 and again from 2003 to 2009. Reece says a lot happened in that era.

"Ironwood Golf Course was developed. That was certainly impactful on the community. The (original) College Hills Mall was developed. There was a lot of economic development and a lot of residential development during his tenure," said Reece.

Lawlis could be gruff, Reece said, but she has a fond personal memory of him. Her dad died two days before her wedding, and Lawlis made a long road trip to pay his respects.

"I do remember how meaningful that was that he came all the way to Traverse City, Michigan, with my bosses at the time (City Manager Dave Anderson and then Assistant City Manager Mark Peterson) to express condolences. That was very meaningful. He had a big heart," said Reece.

Lawlis stepped off the council in 1995, but ran again in 2003 to oppose the Uptown Normal revitalization plan, serving several more years.

"He was known to be an advocate of fiscal responsibility and always interested in helping constituents solve problems," said Lawlis' family in an obituary.

Lawlis also served on the McLean County Board, as president of the Home Sweet Home Foundation, president of the Illinois State University Annuitants Association, and co-chaired three Unit 5 school district referendums. Lawlis served as an American Red Cross volunteer where he went on 21 assignments for disaster relief,and volunteered at the Midwest Food Bank. He received the 1997 Normal Citizen of the Year Award, the 2010 E. Burton Mercier Alumni Service Award from ISU, and the James Collie Volunteer Service Award from the Bloomington-Normal Kiwanis Organization.

Memorials for Lawlis can go to the Midwest Food Bank and the Parker and Sharon Lawlis Endowed Scholarship Fund at Illinois State University.

A visitation for Lawlis will be from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Carmody-Flynn Funeral Home in Bloomington.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.