Retirement doesn't keep Lawson from working
Blanche Lawson leans back in her chair in the office at Riverside Center in Charleroi. It's a momentary relaxation for the woman who has worked most of her life serving others. Even in retirement, she continues to do so.
Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Lawson grew up in Rankin. After graduating from Rankin High School in 1956, Lawson “went straight to work” mostly doing office work.
Motivated to go back to school, Lawson attended Community College of Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh.
“I hated school, but I was a good student,” Lawson admitted.
She then went on to become a mental health counselor, serving from 1970 to 1980 for Turtle Creek Valley MH/MR, Inc.
In 1980, she and a friend started their own company, Derrick Limited. They did resumes, mailings, and even fundraising for WQED.
“She left for South America with her husband, who worked for Exxon, and I couldn't run it by myself,” Lawson said of her business partner and friend.
The company closed in 1982, but Lawson kept working. Her former boss called asking Lawson to work again for him. She managed 13 apartments and some businesses for 10 years.
During that time, Lawson worked three jobs. She also worked for Sears as a cashier at Allegheny Center Mall, while finishing up work for her company before shutting it down.
After working one summer in 1992 in the mental health field, Lawson went to work at the Center for Disability Law and Policy in East Liberty. She retired from there in 1999.
In that position, Lawson helped clients acquire stairlifts and wheelchairs and made sure their rights were being preserved.
“That job was rewarding,” Lawson said. “That was probably my most rewarding job. Baby sitting, short-order cook, taking care of people's houses – I did it all.”
Lawson, who lost her husband in 1986, has a son, Michael, 50, of Van Meter, and two daughters, Leslie Greenley, 48, of Canton, Ohio, and Jaimie Talia Ferro, 46, of Swissvale.
In retirement, she volunteers at the Charleroi Riverside Center, starting there when the center opened in 2006.
Lawson initially worked in the fitness room at the center. Today, she works in the office at the center. She works Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., calling in lunch orders and keeping the lunch schedule going.
When she's home, Lawson is usually online.
“I'm on my computer all the time,” Lawson said.
Otherwise, she enjoys spending time with her growing family.
“I'm on greats now,” Lawson said. “I have seven great-grandchildren.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Holiday movie gives Cal U students get 2 seconds of fame
- Recalling ‘White Friday’ storm that paralyzed Mid-Mon Valley in 1950
- Mon Valley Leathernecks tackle Toys for Tots drive
- Monongahela Valley Hospital celebrates annual Light-Up Night
- Recovery – it’s not just for addicts anymore
- Century-old Christmas tradition catching on in Mon Valley
- Rostraver woman collecting blankets for homeless vets
- Christmas Cheer Club initiative benefits needy Mon Valley kids
- Small Business Saturday events grow