One of the reasons I like doing these local portraits in print is because of the interesting people I get to meet and spend a couple of hours with. Although I’ve known Bill Lawrence for several years, I haven’t had the honor of sitting down with him over coffee and really getting to know the man.
The three-term Mayor of Highland Village may be soft-spoken, but his record of achievement speaks loud and clear. The Vietnam veteran and retired United States Air Force Reserve Colonel began his military career at an Indiana Air Force base. After eight years of active duty and 22 years in the Reserves, working with the 305th Air Refuel and Wing Tactical Division, among other assignments, he retired in 2005.
During his service in Southeast Asia he lived in Thailand for a year, where he was in computer operations for the USAF. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee University, an MPA from St. Mary’s and a law degree from Indiana University. Along the way, he served two years in the Army ROTC in college and two years in the Air Force ROTC.
Colonel Lawrence says one of his proudest moments in the military was when he had the honor of being “pinned” as a 2nd Lieutenant by the famous General Daniel “Chappy” James, one of the illustrious “Tuskegee Airmen,” and the first African-American to reach the rank of Four-Star General.
Bill and his wife Grace have been married 30 years and have three children and four grandchildren. He is currently working in dispute mediation for businesses that would rather have an agreement between the parties than to end up in court.
His first stint in politics began when he was on the Planning and Zoning Board in Highland Village and was asked to run for a Council seat. He was elected and soon was tapped to run for Mayor. Bill says his three terms (six years) as Mayor was a grand, but humbling experience. “It was grand because I was enthusiastic and enjoyed the job. At the same time, it was humbling because of the lessons I learned about the people of Highland Village.”
He learned that most residents were center-right progressive, fair-minded, independent and hard-working. In addition, he was impressed with how educated they were on local issues and how they preferred to come up with their own solutions to problems.
During his final term in office (H.V. has term limits), which ended in 2006, the population in the city was about 15,000. To give you an idea of how active residents are; in Bill’s last election, 33 percent of the voters showed up at the polls. Bill speaks proudly about his city as a stable, solid and safe community that is family-centered with a high quality of life. “As Mayor, I felt like I received far more than I had given in terms of personal rewards and opportunity by serving this special community.”
Since leaving office, he’s been busier than ever. While operating his dispute mediation business, he ran as a candidate for Congress in last year’s GOP primary against incumbent Kay Granger in District 12. Although unable to win the nomination, he received a six-year appointment from Governor Perry to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy. The board regulates public accountants in the state and administers the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Exam in Texas.
Bill also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Medical Center of Lewisville. The 202-bed acute care hospital is part of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), North Texas Division, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services. As if all of the foregoing is not enough to exhaust a marathon runner, Bill is also a past member of the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct and a former Treasurer of the Lewisville Education Foundation. Perhaps now you can understand why I said I love doing these one-on-one interviews. We are indeed fortunate to have a veritable treasure trove of talent in this North Texas community.
Bill Lawrence sees himself as a “hands-on citizen activist,” committed to constructive ways of meeting challenges and offering competent leadership to his community. In looking ahead, Bill says he hasn’t ruled out a possible future run for public office at either the county or state level. Given his outstanding service to his country, his state and his community, it would be an honor to support him in any endeavor in which he might decide to apply his extraordinary expertise.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.