Funeral Service Set For Former Lincoln High Principal

News Release: Tallahassee Urban League

Tallahassee, Fla. -- The last living principal of Tallahassee's original Lincoln High School will be buried tomorrow.

Freeman Delano Lawrence's Wake will be held this evening beginning at 6:00 PM at Bethel AME Church.

Funeral services will begin tomorrow at 11 AM Tuesday at Bethel AME Church, followed by burial at Culley's Meadowwood Memorial Park.

By: Lanetra Bennett
December 26, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The last surviving principal of the original all-black Lincoln High School in Tallahassee has died.

Freeman Lawrence was 95 years old.

Alumni of the original Lincoln High School in Tallahassee still keep in touch. But, future reunions will be missing the last surviving principal of the school for black students.

Freeman Lawrence died Christmas Eve at age 95.

"Mr. Freeman Lawrence meant a lot to the community." Says, one of his former students, Althemese Barnes."

Lawrence was known as a man who got things done. Tallahassee resident David Williams witnessed that as the class president in 1965, when he got to serve as Freeman's assistant principal for Student Government Day .

Williams says, "I thought he just sat at a desk all day and just did nothing. But, he taught me all the ins and outs of running the office and how he had to keep things going and pay the bills. He was kind and professional."

Opened in 1869, Lincoln provided black children an opportunity to go to school beyond sixth grade.

Barnes graduated from Lincoln in 1961, and also had the opportunity to work for Lawrence when she graduated from college in 1965.

Barnes says, "He came to my apartment--I'll never forget--knocked on the door and offered me the high school choir director position. It meant a whole lot to go back to my alma mater and serve."

She adds, "He will be a missed icon in this community."

The old Lincoln High School closed in 1967. After integration, the school became Lincoln-Griffin School until 1969. The building is now the Lincoln Neighborhood Center on West Brevard Street.

Freeman became the principal of the newly created Lincoln-Griffin High School, and later Nims Middle before retiring in 1978.

His funeral will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Tallahassee.

Press Release: Taylor House Museum

Freeman D. Lawrence, the last surviving principal of the original all-black Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, has died aged 95. News of his death has been circulating through old Lincoln High Alumni throughout the day. Mr. Lawrence passed on yesterday. He was the recipient of the Tallahassee Urban League, Inc.'s Legend Award in 2012, and was featured in Tallahassee Community College's African-American History Calendar in 2010. He has been credited for the integration of the school system in Leon County going as smoothly as it did.

Mr. Freeman Delano Lawrence was known as a man who gets things done.

Mr. Lawrence served in World War II before receiving his undergraduate
and graduate degrees from FAMU in 1947 and 1953, respectively.
He began his teaching career in Live Oak and Quincy, Florida, before
returning to Tallahassee. After his return he taught at Barrow Hill
Elementary/Junior High School and later moved on to teach at Lincoln
High School. He was the last principal of the formerly all-black Lincoln
High School, which was closed in 1967. After the integration process was
complete, he became principal of the newly created Lincoln-Griffin High
School and later of Nims Middle School before retiring in 1978.

Dr. Rosalie Hill, director of the Tallahassee Girls Choir, has known Mr.
Lawrence for more than 50 years and credits him with much of the
school system’s success in the integration process. “Freeman is responsible
for integration in the school system being as relatively smooth as it was.
He is a critical thinker and was always able to remind us of what we
should really be focused on.”

Mr. Lawrence touched many lives at Lincoln High School. His alumni
include doctors, lawyers, humanitarians, and numerous educators,
including Dr. Henry Lewis, III, and Dr. Fred Gainous.

Mr. Lawrence was recognized for his service by FAMU when he received
the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996.

He and his wife of 66 years, Thelma Gaines Lawrence, also a retired
school teacher, still reside in Tallahassee. He was a member of Bethel
A.M.E. Church.

Taylor House Museum of Historic Frenchtown
442 West Georgia Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32301


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