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L. Theodore Lawrence Jr., WWII veteran and pioneering cardiologist, dies at 99

By JOE JULIANO | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Published: May 22, 2020

PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) — It didn’t take very long for Ted Lawrence Jr. to see action in the Pacific during World War II after he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Haverford College in 1942.

He went into the Navy and attended officers’ training school at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., a 90-day crash course in naval procedures. He was assigned as an engineering officer on two destroyers, the Amman and the Anthony, where he was in the middle of the action.

He was involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered to have been the largest naval battle of the war, and had his ship hit by a kamikaze plane, resulting in casualties of some of his fellow servicemen.

“At the end, his ship was anchored in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered,” said son Bill. “The battleship Missouri was where they signed the surrender documents, but his ship was stationed there."

L. Theodore Lawrence Jr., 99, of Newtown Square, a cardiologist, died Tuesday, May 5, at Quadrangle Retirement Home in Haverford of complications related to COVID-19.

Born and raised in Mount Airy, Dr. Lawrence was valedictorian of the Class of 1938 at Germantown High School. After the war, he studied at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He did much of his work at Veterans Administration hospitals, starting in Long Beach, Calif., and later in Wilmington and Philadelphia.

“He wanted to work in the VA system to serve other veterans,” his son said.

During his 13 years at the Philadelphia VA Hospital, Dr. Lawrence pioneered cardiac catheterization procedures, taught at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and co-authored several medical textbooks. After retiring briefly in 1980, he spent the next 15 years as a cardiac consultant at Haverford State Hospital.

He was a devoted gardener. He loved vacationing at the family camp at Lower Goose Island on Casco Bay in Maine, where he helped his father, a teacher at Olney High School, conduct a marine biology operation. Years after coaching his sons in baseball, he regularly attended the sporting events of his grandchildren.

In addition to his son, Dr. Lawrence is survived by sons Roy, Geoff, and Tom; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, and son Steve.

A memorial service is planned for June at Lower Merion Baptist Church.

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