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  Barbara Lawrence, astronaut wife (1938-2016)

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Author Topic:   Barbara Lawrence, astronaut wife (1938-2016)
Robert Pearlman

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posted 02-28-2016 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Barbara Lawrence, the widow of Major Robert Lawrence, America's first black astronaut, has died, journalist Jim Oberg reports on Facebook.
Mrs. Barbara H.C. Lawrence, widow of noted U.S. aerospace research pilot and Air Force Major Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., died Saturday, Feb. 20 in Chicago. Mrs. Lawrence was seriously injured in an auto accident Nov. 14, 2015 and never recovered said her son Tracey Lawrence from Chicago on Friday, "Mom never came home."

Mrs. Lawrence, daughter of Southside Chicago physician, Dr. Henry N. Cress and Teacher and Educational Administrator, Mrs. Ida Mae Griffin Cress, was born on Jan. 20, 1938 in Chicago. Her death came 49 days after the Jan. 2 death of her famed and controversial sister Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, whose scholarly works, "The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation" and "The Isis Papers" have long maintained public notoriety. Dr. Welsing in fact died 49 days after the accident in which her sister was fatally injured.

Major Robert Lawrence, Jr. was touted as the nation's "First Black Astronaut" when he was selected for the Defense Department initiative MOL, Manned Orbiting Laboratory in June 1967. Along with Lt. Colonel Robert Herres, Major James Abrahamson and Major Donald Peterson, Lawrence was scheduled to orbit the earth in a Spring 1970 space mission. His Dec. 8, 1967 death spurred the cancellation of the MOL project in 1969.

Mrs. Lawrence was successful in her noteworthy effort in the mid 1990's to have her husband included in the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Astronaut Space Mirror Memorial, Merritt Island, Florida. With the help of U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush, aerospace author and researcher James Oberg and her son Tracey, Mrs. Lawrence's efforts were justly rewarded when her husband was formally inducted as a member of the U.S. astronaut core in a December 1997 ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center.

Barbara Henrine Cress Lawrence was a graduate of Chicago's Roosevelt University. She met her husband at a party when the two were high school age students. They were married in 1958 in Furstenfeldbruck, Germany, where Major Lawrence was stationed as a member of the United States Air Force from 1957 through 1961. The couple's only child, son Tracey, was born in Munich in 1959.

Mrs. Lawrence moved back to Chicago after her husband's death working for the city's Model Cities Program and the Mayor's Office of Employment and Training, "MET," until her retirement in 1993.

Along with her son Mrs. Lawrence is survived by the elder of her two sisters civil rights activist, educator and broadcast personality, Lorne Cress Love, also of Chicago.

A Chicago memorial service was tentatively scheduled for April 3.


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