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County commissioner Johnny Lawrence dies after fight with COVID-19
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County commissioner Johnny Lawrence dies after fight with COVID-19

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Johnny Lawrence

Johnny Lawrence

Johnny Lawrence has lost his fight with COVID-19.

He was 62.

Probate Judge Bill English confirmed to the Opelika-Auburn News just after 6 p.m. Friday that Lawrence had succumbed to the disease.

“Commissioner Johnny Lawrence passed away about an hour ago. I will forward more when I know more. Please keep Maggie & Julia in your prayers,” English stated in an email.

The retired Auburn city firefighter and sitting Lee County commissioner since 2002 was hospitalized July 12 at East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) in Opelika with the disease.

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders expressed sympathy for the Lawrence family when contacted about the passing. He said Lee County lost a great public servant who was always prepared and took his duties seriously.

“Johnny was a fixture in our community, a piece of Auburn’s foundation,” said Anders. “Johnny, the person, will be sorely missed. Johnny, the leader, will be tough to replace.”

Public service

Lawrence represented the county’s Ward 2, which takes up much of the city of Auburn. He attended Auburn City Schools and eventually received a Bachelor’s degree in public administration from Auburn University.

He joined the Auburn Fire Department at the age of 20. He spent 29 years with the department, serving in various posts until retiring as a battalion chief in 2006. He went on to work as an educator at EAMC.

“I was fortunate to call him my friend for 35 years,” said Robert Ham, his commission colleague. “Johnny Lawrence was a servant and he demonstrated that throughout his life.

“He demonstrated that by serving on the fire department for the city of Auburn, then as a Lee County commissioner and at East Alabama Medical Center. He remained a servant of the people.”

Lawrence’s family was not available for comment Friday night.

‘Be safe and take care’

The Opelika-Auburn News spoke with Lawrence shortly after he was hospitalized. He said he had been well looked after by the hospital’s staff.

“I really want to ask people to please be safe and take care of themselves … (face) masks may not be 100%, but they give you a good chance,” Lawrence said at the time.

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