(Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the days of the viewing and funeral. This story has been updated with the correct information. City Pulse apologizes for the mistakes.)
FRIDAY, Oct. 13 — Four days after Ingham County Democratic Party secretary Ted Lawson was fatally shot, the party mourned his loss at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.
“People don’t realize that when you’re in a campaign, it’s like another family in the time that you spend together. Ted was an important member of our family,” party Chair Brian Jackson said. “He was a workhorse who was always looking to move things forward, and he has done so much for the party and the community.”
Sitting in the back room of the Fiesta Charra restaurant that evening, a handful of the several dozen people in attendance spoke candidly about Lawson as a driving force in local Democratic political efforts, with many citing him as a key source of inspiration in their own activism.
“When I first started, Ted was patient and understanding in explaining things. I’m devastated because I feel like there was still much I could have learned from him,” Treasurer Trisha Gerring said. “He just had this vast knowledge of everything in the area, from voting rights to door-knocking. I'm struggling with trying to come up with the right words for how I feel about the situation.”
Chris Andrews of Haslett echoed these sentiments.
“I met Ted in 2019, because that was really when I joined the party and I was looking for a way to do things to stop Trump. He always had a way for us to do it, he was always doing it by example. I discovered this whole other world where he was fighting for democracy in a different way,” Andrews said. “My takeaway is, he was always doing more than he needed to do. And he was always giving me an opportunity to do more than I would otherwise do. The way we can honor his legacy is to do one more thing that we wouldn’t otherwise do.”
Speakers praised their fallen friend as a family man, a father of two daughters and a loving grandfather of two. The group also shared moments of catharsis while bonding over Lawson’s love of “really bad pop-punk bands from the 80s,” his “Democrat blue” car, and his endearing, dry sense of humor.
“We had a chance to work together a lot,” 1st Vice Chair Robin Smith said, recalling memories of traveling with Lawson to Democratic events throughout the state. “Everybody knows that we are grassroots workers, and Ted absolutely walked the walk.”
Ingham County Treasurer Alan Fox said that Lawson, who also served on the Ingham County Board of Canvassers at the time of his death, was “careful, calm and dealt with a tremendous amount of pressure, especially in the last couple of elections.”
“I also wanted to say something about his role on the Board of Canvassers, because you never heard about anything Ted did there. You only hear about them when they screw something up, which Ted never did. He never had any controversy. That's where the true work happens,” Fox said.
Of the many who paid tribute to Lawson’s legacy that evening, Fox offered perhaps the most memorable line of all: “In all the things that he did, without being the face in front of the camera, Ted was much more a pillar of American democracy as any senator, president or anyone else,” he said.
Before moving on to its regular meeting agenda, the party shared details on Lawson’s memorial and funeral arrangements. Viewings will be Oct. 20 at 2p.m. to 4 pm. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel, 325 W. Washtenaw St. His funeral service is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 21 at Tabernacle of David Church, 2645 W. Holmes Road, with an additional viewing noon to 1 p.m. there. A GoFundMe has also been established for Lawson’s family.
Lawson, 63, was shot in the 1100 block of North Jenison Avenue on Sunday afternoon while canvassing for Lansing City Council candidate Trini Lopez Pehlivinanoglu. A 15-year-old youth, Lamar Patrick Kemp, has been arrested and charged with open murder.
“For those who have had other tragedies in your life, or even those who have not, we certainly encourage people to get counseling and support,” Jackson said, adding that “this is by no means the end” in ways in which the party will look to honor Lawson’s legacy in the future.
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