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November 18, 2010

Skip Lawrence, R.I.P.

Roy Meachum

Over 20 years writing a column for The Frederick News-Post, I came to know consummate professionals, devoted to journalism with a passion.


None rated higher than photographer Skip Lawrence. In the days when I gave parties, I was pleased he chose to attend. In daily walks with Pushkin, I ran into the very pleasant man now and again.


Skip used the camera as an artist’s tool. I was pleased to tell him, in one of our chance meetings, that his pictures I could always spot by their attention to a particular detail. Newsworthy and otherwise, his shots told much more than the assignment demanded.


Someone recently told me, while out with Pushkin, Skip Lawrence was not in good shape. Had I realized how bad, I would have rushed to bid him farewell.


So I do it now, hoping he can hear.


Of all the photographers I’ve known in my many and varied careers, Skip Lawrence, you ranked among the very finest, no matter how famous or much better paid.


Pushkin and I will both miss you, buddy. Keep a camera flash out for us; we’ll probably not be long behind.


* * * * * * * * *


After sending the above tribute to Skip, my editor, John Ashbury, forwarded an email he had sent to Nancy Luse, who had written the news story about the passing of Skip Lawrence. I have copied it below.





My favorite story about Skip occurred the day Sam Koski, a member of the Frederick County Board of Education, was buried. It was raining that day and Koski’s family decided that he would be carried to his grave on a caisson. Sam had driven the carriage rides in downtown Frederick for years and was the inspiration of the 50-mile trail ride held in northern Frederick County for years. So the caisson idea was appropriate.


Anyway, after the service at the funeral home, Sam was loaded into a hearse and carried to a predetermined located where he would be placed on a caisson pulled by two of his own horses for the last several miles to the cemetery. Most of the mourners drove their cars to the cemetery – including Skip. He wanted a unique photo for the next day’s paper.


When we got to the cemetery, the Heavens opened in a proverbial downpour. It lasted for almost an hour. We waited patiently for the caisson. Skip didn’t have an umbrella. Fortunately I did – a golf umbrella. So, Skip and I stood along the road under that umbrella for nearly an hour. We walked to the crest of the hill to get a better look into the distance, wondering all the time where was Sam.


Eventually, the caisson appeared and Skip readied to take his picture(s). As it approached we noticed that Sam’s wife was riding the caisson – without an umbrella to protect her from the rain. The pictures Skip took were marvelous – especially the one that was printed the next day in the paper.


The graveside service was very short – as the rain continued to pound all of us who surrounded that grave. I walked Skip to his car so he wouldn’t get more soaked than he already was.


I will never forget that day in the rain with Ship. We talked about that day only once after that. He thanked me again for the use of my umbrella. The oral history we shared that day will always be a fond memory.


And thanks to you for a marvelous tribute to a man I considered humble and dedicated to his craft. I will miss him although we knew each other only as members of the same profession.





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