Bruce Carlton Lawson - Redskins #1 Fan
Number one Redskin fan, friend fondly remembered
By Linda Brewer
Bruce! Bruce! Bruce! Bruce! I can remember the sound of the chant filling the auditorium as the big guy headed toward the stage as if it happened just yesterday. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the crowd of teens was reacting to the entrance of a rock star or sports hero. Instead, those yells were to welcome the undisputed No. 1 Redskins fan, the guy literally everybody knew and loved: Bruce Lawson.
It was the mid-’70s, back when the Loudon Redskins were winning games and championships left and right. The Friday afternoon pep rallies were the highlight of the school day. The energy was palpable; the noise was deafening. Every single member of the student body screamed Bruce’s name as he approached the microphone but when he started to speak, you could hear a pin drop. His words of encouragement were like a good luck charm for the team.
He was an integral part of our Friday ritual, a living symbol of school spirit as recognizable as the color red. I guess I first met him in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. Although I’m not sure when it was, I’m positive of where it was — at the Loudon High School football field. Frankly, I can’t remember ever going to a home football game (or basketball game, either, now that I think about it) when Bruce wasn’t there. Most often, you could spot him down on the field or at least at the fence, eye-level with all the action.
Bruce was a graduate of Loudon High School’s Class of ‘72 and his peers chose him as the classmate with “Best School Spirit,” which was obviously a no-brainer. He shared that title with my sister, who Bruce always referred to as “Trouble.” Every time I saw him, he’d be sure to ask, “How’s Trouble?”
Then he would always remind me he was just kidding, just to make sure I didn’t take offense. (How could I when I agreed wholeheartedly with the nickname???)
In another community, a man like Bruce might have faded into the background or have been merely grudgingly patronized. But in Loudon, he was thrust into the spotlight where he continued to shine throughout the years. He wasn’t just liked; he was loved with gusto. He was like a community celebrity who became a local legend. Nobody — and I mean nobody — knew more about local sports than Bruce Lawson. He could cite scores, outstanding plays, key players and other trivia from games decades ago with startling accuracy. His mind was like a steel trap, cataloging names and numbers from thousands of games he watched from the sidelines.
The only thing Bruce might have been more of an expert at than the local sporting scene was the local restaurant buffet scene. He sure liked a good buffet and his stamp of approval was almost as effective as a rave review from a celebrity critic in this neck of the woods. Bruce was a big ol’ teddy bear of a man with a heart of pure gold. He had a smile that could light up a room and his grin was so big his eyes were reduced to tiny slits in his face when he laughed, which he did loudly and often. He had more friends who genuinely cared about him than anyone I’ve ever met. Whether he was regaling you with tales of his recent vacation, sharing his opinion of a new ball player’s athletic abilities or giving you a tip about where the nicest waitresses can be found, when you were talking to Bruce Lawson you knew you were talking to a good guy and a true friend. Upon his passing, the sign outside his alma mater paid tribute to the No. 1 Redskin fan. The sign outside the Loudon pharmacy where he worked noted he would be missed.
People throughout the area have shared stories of how he touched their lives, what a hoot he was and how sporting events in Loudon may never be the same again.
Loudon lost one of its most cherished characters when Bruce Lawson left us. Many of us — probably too many to count — lost a great friend.
Something tells me God lined up his angels Tuesday and when this unforgettable,
burly and boisterous man headed through the Pearly Gates, he walked with his
head held high to a deafening chant of “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!”
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