Longtime Blaine resident and former mayor Arthur “Art” Lawrenson died Thursday, June 16, after suffering a severe stroke.
Lawrenson was born in Bellingham on September 22, 1928, to Dewey and Doris Lawrenson and moved to Blaine at a young age.
He owned numerous Whatcom County businesses but was best known for his purchase of the former Cafe International in 1960 and the Motel International in 1983. He also purchased the Wagon Wheel Tavern in 1984 and was the former owner of the Forest Grove Ballroom in Birch Bay.
He served as Blaine’s mayor from 1969 to 1973, and later as the president of the Blaine Chamber of Commerce.
Friends and associates remember Lawrenson as an outspoken advocate for the city of Blaine and always ready to lend a hand to anyone in need.
“He was a friend to everyone,” said Drayton Harbor Maritime founder Richard Sturgill, recalling a short-term loan Lawrenson gave him to purchase the boathouse for the Plover ferry. “We made a handshake deal on the price of the boathouse. He really believed in this town, and his loss will be felt throughout the community.”
Blaine resident Mel Hollinger, 95, agreed. Hollinger said he lived next door to Lawrenson after moving here in 1939 to work as a teacher. Hollinger, who would go on to be one of Lawrenson’s teachers in the Blaine school district, called him a good student who was outgoing and a natural leader.
“He liked people and he liked working with people,” Hollinger said. “He was a little loud, but he wasn’t overbearing – he just had a big presence.”
Blaine city council member Charlie Hawkins agreed.
“Anyone who grew up here knew Art,” he said. “He had a little bit of a gruff exterior, but he was a kind man, and he was friends with everyone. He really was larger than life.”
Lawrenson is survived by his wife and children.