Beloved bon vivant, George Lawler, dies at 75


George E. Lawler passed away on the morning of Jan. 17, following a brief illness. He lived in Riverdale his entire life and loved New York.

Mr. Lawler retired from Interpublic Group after 37 years of faithful service. His loyalty was so strong that he insisted on driving only General Motors cars, with a preference for Buicks — and attempted to influence each member of his large family to do the same —since GM was a client of IPG.  

During those years, he formed so many friendships in the vicinity of his office with neighborhood doormen, street vendors, grocers, newsstand dealers, police officers and others that they gave him the honorary title of “Mayor of 54th Street.”

Mr. Lawler was a committed fan of the New York (football) Giants, New York Metropolitans and New York Knickerbockers. His loyalty was severely tested, especially in recent years, by the Mets and Knicks — but he never wavered. It was well-known by his family that he was unreachable during broadcasts of games involving these teams when the outcome was in doubt.

He was a lifelong member of St. Gabriel’s Parish in Riverdale, where he ushered for over 50 years.  

A proud Fourth Degree contributing member of the Knights of Columbus, Mr. Lawler made many friends, because he was a great one himself, always with a positive word, a well-told joke and a hearty laugh. 

He made friends easily and affected all whom he met with his attitude and joy in the simple things in life.  

A man of routine, programmed for goodness, he was often seen spreading laughter and good will while “making his rounds” at The Knolls and Johnson Avenue in Riverdale, include regular stops at C-Town, Key Foods, Sam’s Pizza, Stephen the Dry Cleaner, and the Riverdale Barber Shop, with his friends Tony and Vinnie. 

He enjoyed many summers at Travers Island (New York Athletics Club’s “home in the country” in Pelham, NY) and was a kind and gentlemanly fellow to all he met there. 

Mr. Lawler was pre-deceased by his parents, John A. Lawler, Jr, M.D. and Margaret Lawler and by his brother, John A. Lawler III.  

He cared for his mother during the last four years of her life, allowing her to live her final days in the comfort of her home.  He is survived by his sisters, Margaret (William) Stott of Oak Hill, Virginia and Mary Alicia (Douglas) McRae of Salinas, California, and by his sister-in-law Julie Lawler of Wellesley, MA. 

Mr. Lawler was adored by all 46 of his nieces and nephews (including grands), never missed calling each on their birthday and was as fluent in their activities as he was with the batting averages of Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and David Wright. 

He generously provided priceless advice on a variety of subjects and hosted numerous family members at his home in Riverdale, for days, weeks and even months at a time, during periods of career and life transitions. 

Mr. Lawler was also famous amongst the ladies in the family for his unabashed four-part greeting — cradles your face, big smile, quick kiss on the cheek, then a giant hug. 

Kind in heart and generous in deed, Mr. Lawler will be greatly missed by all of his friends and family.

Viewing was at Williams Funeral Home, 5628 Broadway,  from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 23.  Funeral Mass was at St. Gabriel’s Church, 3250 Arlington Ave., on Saturday.  Burial was at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

Gifts may be made to St. Gabriel’s Parish in Mr. Lawler’s memory.