Olee Lawson Arp, was born and reared in Washington County, Georgia to the Late Dennis, Sr. and Elmira (Wilson) Lawson. She was the 15th child of 17 children born in a large sharecropper-God-fearing family. Her older siblings provided nurturing and care to her as she grew-up with nieces and nephews who were older and her playmates.
The Lawson family was pushed to achieve academically by their father, Dennis Sr; “All of my children and their children’s children must attain an education!” He would spend time teaching them first from the Bible as many parents did during those times; but was futuristic in his thinking.
Olee generally attended local Churches around the area with her parents until the death of her father (Dennis, Sr.) when she was 12. Her mother (Elmira) married the late Rev. Johnson and the tradition of attending Churches continued as she entered high school; but frequently had to miss days during harvest-time. It was noted around the County that she could pick 500 pounds of cotton per day; which allowed her younger sister, Elmira, (aka Pig) to “catch up” to her in school and the two of them graduated from high school together. Elmira and Olee achieved the Valedictorian and Salutatorian spots respectfully on graduation day.
Olee met (at Church) Roger Lee Brown and they started dating; but his older brother, Arthur (aka “Gig”) had to go with him on dates because he was afraid to walk at night by himself. They were married and had Hattie Marie, Margaret, Peggy Diane, and Ann.
The marital pair (Roger and Olee) re-located to Dublin (Lauren County), Georgia in 1951, after the death of her mother, Elmira, to live in the new home, which was built by her brother, Joseph (after he returned home from World War II). She immediately untied with the William Grove Baptist Church, in Dublin, GA.
She worked as a domestic worker, rearing the Metts and Nelsons children who are well-known in Laurens County community notably, as a high school principal and an attorney in the City of Dublin. She later worked in Macon, Georgia at the Bibb County Mill to obtain better pay to support her family; staying in Macon during the week (for work) and coming home on the weekends as she participated in the life of the Church and the community. She enjoyed entertaining others, cooking, fishing, sewing, shopping for clothes, antiques, and dishes. Her greatest joy was visiting others and telling stories about her childhood and funny things she’ve seen and heard.
Olee has always been a supporter of her family and cheered as her grandson, Rick, achieved his basketball’s highest honor by being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs. She frequently would travel and visit family members around the country after marrying Deacon Arnold Arp in 1985. She marveled at the opportunity to obtain her first passport at age 82, travelled to Puerto Rico and cruised the Eastern Caribbean to celebrate Hattie’s birthday. Olee continued to live in Dublin until 2012 when she went to live with Hattie and her husband Frederick Stroud in Blackwood, New Jersey. She later re-located to live in Boston, Massachusetts in 2016 with Margaret and Ann.
Olee was preceded in death by her parents, Dennis, Sr., and Elmira (Wilson), her first and second husbands, Roger Lee Brown, and Arnold Arp respectively. Ten (10) brothers, Harrison, Dennis, Jr., Jarius, Sr. (Bo), Sam, Joseph, Thomas L., Luther, Judson, James, and J.C Lawson; 3 sisters, Mollie (Lawson) Vinning, Irene (Lawson) Curry and Elmira Lawson. One (1) adopted son, CMS, Clayton Hooks, three (3) daughters, Pastor Hattie Marie Dudley Stroud, Peggy Diane Weddborn and Grendell Brown. Two (2) grandsons, Kim Wesley, and O’Bryant Harris II. Her aunts, Sarah Wilson Greene, and Flossie Wilson Bailey. Her nephews, James L, Demarris, Jarius, Jr., Donald, Nathaniel, and Ernest Vinning. Her nieces, Annie (Vinning) Hicks, Rosa Lee Vinning, Deena Lawson, Dorothy (Lawson) Moss, Lucille (Curry) Knight and Warrena (Lawson) Shannon. Her cousins, Essie (Greene) Dancy, Eleanora (Bailey) Moorman, Alma (Walker) Carter, Bertha (Greene) Moss, Juanita (Pitt) Bynrum, L.C. Moss, Sylvester, Eddie, and Tommy Greene. Her best friends, Lillie Smith, Essie Rozier and Mary Kyle.
Deaconess Olee, leaves to morn her loss, one (1) God-sister, Deaconess, Louise Miller; one (1) son, Russell Bruce (Patricia) Simmons of Tampa, FL, four (4) daughters, Margaret (Larry), and Ann of Boston, Massachusetts; Beverly (Jeff) Seal of Baltimore, Maryland, and Sharon (Sam) Floyd of Glendwood, GA; 7 adopted daughters, Mary Harris, Linda Raine, Patricia Bush, Jennifer DuBose, Audrey Oglesby and Vivian McNair of Boston, Massachusetts, and Florence Peoples of Goose Creek, S.C. One (1) nephew, Charles Lawson of Savannah, GA and one (1) niece, Wilhelmenia (Curry) Watson of Orlando, FL. One (1) brother-in-law, Bobby Blue and two (2) sisters-in-law, Vertis (Brown) Blue of Boston, Massachusetts, and Essie (Robert) Lannon of Fort Kent, Maine. 17 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great grandchildren. She is also survived by many generations of nephews, nieces, families, and friends.
Having to honor her life today are nurses, educators, pastors/ministers, administrators, researchers, social workers, teachers, welders, aviators, executive managers, bankers, policemen, correctional officers, principals, coaches, and lawyers from all levels of education, living the family’s dream!
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