Married to Barbara (Graminski) Lawson
Father to Russell, Dale and Douglas
Grandfather to Nicole, Danielle, Kelly, Christopher and Crystal
Also known as large, slow target sailors, Ship LST 551; was built on April 14, 1944, in Evansville, Ind., for the invasion of southern France. It was designed to carry tanks, ammunition and large guns for the war effort.
On D-Day, the ship launched assaults on Alpha Red Beach and discharged tanks on Yellow Beach. During the Normandy invasion, the ship spent the summer landing troops and ammunition. The ship was retired after the war and was sent to the Mothball Fleet. In 1964, she was brought out of Mothball Fleet, re-fitted and was assigned to Vietnam to serve the Brownwater Fleet.
Dick's duties included diesel engineering and working as a shipyard electrician.
He served during the Korean War, 1947 to 1952; and served on LST 551 as a diesel engineer.
Winston Churchill, after the war, credited the victory to all the LSTs. The LST had won the war. Without them, Britain would have no food, no weapons and no chance.
Harold "Dick" Lawson was born June 2, 1930, and raised in Buffalo along the old waterfront. He had been a volunteer all of his life. People in the area never realized that Dick Lawson was the working coordinator for the Buffalo Naval Park and was instrumental in bringing the USS Little Rock and the USS Sullivans to the Buffalo Naval Park. In 1984, he took over management of the Dunkirk Lighthouse and along with his wife, Barb, made it what it is today - truly one of Chautauqua's treasures. Active in so many area veteran programs and working with different organizations honoring our veterans past and present.
Dick Lawson had three great loves; the love for his family, his wife Barbara (Graminski) Lawson, his three sons, Russell, Dale and Douglas and five grandchildren; his love for veterans; and his love for the area, always trying to make things right and make things better. You can take all of Dick's accomplishments, his family, his military duty, his Buffalo Naval Park involvement, his harbor commission duties, his tall ship brought to Dunkirk project and the reenactments of World War II and War of 1812, they all show his love for military history.
When he took over the duties of managing the Dunkirk Lighthouse that was no longer wanted by the U.S. Coast Guard, Dick walked into a 125-year-old building that needed a roof, walls falling off and electrical disasters all over. It was a ground with countless hours of upkeep and absolutely no money to turn things around. It did not take long to see what we have now. It is hard to conceive the accomplishments of a man with his wife giving us the beauty of our lighthouse and Veteran's Park Museum.
I've had the honor to work with Dick and his wife Barb, also called "Grandma Lighthouse" by her grandchildren, for the past 13 years. I saw a man who completely dedicated his life to the veterans; to have a place for a veteran's family, to leave a part of that veteran's military history out on display, not just to honor them but to also have out there for others to know what really happened and to know that there are people, local people, that served and did their duty.
Had there been no Veterans Park added to the lighthouse when Dick added it, most of the uniforms, medals, citations and history would eventually end up in the trash as most do when houses are sold and older veterans fade away, and for that Dick should be honored. Dick Lawson's lighthouse is a resting place; the last place someone can leave a part of their family's military history for someone in the future to enjoy, to learn and to understand.
To Dick Lawson, thank you.
Thank you for your service. Thank you for our lighthouse and Veteran's Park Museum. Your loss will be felt for many years to follow. Thank you for the hours, days and years of your life and Barb's dedication. A man who I once saw in the morning head to Buffalo for a cancer treatment and then that same afternoon, be on the riding lawn mower making sure our treasure is shining.
For this, you are a local hero.