He was funny, quick with a one-liner. He was a snappy dresser. And Officer Stanley Lawrence was a son, father, brother and friend to many.
But it was his work with Atlanta children through the Police Athletic League that suited Lawrence best. Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields called Lawrence a pillar of the department during his funeral service Friday morning.
“What he did for us as a Police Department is nothing compared to what he did for those children,” Shields told a packed church.
On what would have been Lawrence’s 59th birthday, fellow officers, former classmates, family and friends gathered to say goodbye. Lawrence was shot to death Feb. 19 in his Clayton County home.
>> CONDOLENCES: Online guestbook for Stanley Lawrence
His wife, Tammare Lawrence, 48, was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault charges in his death, Riverdale police Chief Todd Spivey said. The shooting took place at the couple’s home in the 6500 block of Oak Valley Drive, but investigators have not released information about a possible motive.
News of Officer Lawrence’s death shocked the Atlanta Police Department, where he worked nearly 30 years, Shields said. A collective gasp was the first reaction of Lawrence’s colleagues.
“That’s a testament to a good man,” Shields said.
A Jesup native, the 6-foot-8 Lawrence played basketball for Wayne County High School and then the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At UTC, he wore No. 40, and his defensive skills helped lead his team to its first NCAA Division I tournament.
After a brief stint playing semi-professional basketball in Argentina, Lawrence became an Atlanta police officer.
His work in PAL allowed him to combine two of his loves: basketball and coaching children. Lawrence’s coaching extended beyond the court, according to his colleagues. He was known to buy gifts and holiday meals for children and families in need, a colleague, Patricia Greenway, said during Friday’s service.
“Officer Lawrence loved his job so much, he said he’d do it for free,” joked Officer Rashard Sanders, a fellow PAL officer.
Lawrence’s death leaves a void, and officers and the children he coached have struggled to deal with it, Sanders said. Many whom Lawrence coached over the years also attended the service, held at Jackson Memorial Baptist Church in Atlanta.
One of Lawrence’s daughters, Alexis, read Scripture to begin the service.
“Happy heavenly, joyful birthday to my dad,” she said.
One by one, others shared memories of Lawrence, including lifelong friends, a college roommate and teammates.
At the end of the service, Shields presented the family with an American flag.
On Saturday, a second viewing will be held at Royal Funeral Home Chapel in Jesup from noon until 4 p.m. A graveside service will be held Sunday at Unity Church of God Cemetery, also in Jesup.
In addition to his daughters, Lawrence is survived by his mother, brother, sister and several other relatives and friends.
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