Conrad Lawlor Obituary

Conrad E Lawlor
Conrad E. Lawlor
Conrad E Lawlor

June 16, 1929 - April 12, 2019
Born in Memphis, TN
Resided in Madrid, IA
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Conrad E. Lawlor, age 89 years and 10 months, of rural NW Polk County, passed away at home, where he wanted to be, on April 12, 2019.

Burial Graveside services will be in the Union Township Cemetery (8 miles south of Madrid on Highway 415) on Saturday, April 20th at 12-Noon. A celebration of life with friends and family will be at the Lawlorville Farm, Madrid, Iowa, following the burial.

Conrad Lawlor, son of Joseph P. Lawlor, Sr. and Loretto Wisemann Lawlor, was born June 16, 1929, in Memphis, Tennessee. His childhood was in Ames. He graduated from Ames High School in 1947 and attended Loras College in Dubuque. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from De Paul University, in Chicago. While attending De Paul University, he was employed as Prefect of Discipline in Father Kelly’s Home for Homeless Boys. Upon completion, he then served in the US Navy Seabees as a combat veteran in Korea. He married Elizabeth Anderson of Tipp City, Ohio on December 27, 1952, in Oakland, California. She preceded him in death on October 11, 1975. He later married Marge Wilson in 1981 on the summer solstice. She was a nurse in the Des Moines area and retired from Iowa Methodist Medical Center in 1999.

Conrad had a full life in work and retirement. During his time in Ames, he was the cost estimator for General Filter Company, a business founded by his father, where he was employed for 11 years. He later was elected to the Ames City Council in 1958, just the beginning of a robust interest in politics and democracy.

In 1964, he became a federal career executive and managed the new US Small Business Administration branch office in Des Moines. He later served SBA in Kansas City, Denver, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. holding various positions from Loan Officer to Regional Administrator. In Washington, he was director of field management for all 64 SBA District offices in the United States. He served as President of the Federal Executive Council in Des Moines. While SBA District Director in Iowa, he developed the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) program and Iowa Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) program. He believed strongly that small businesses create the new jobs and provide the essential entry training for people entering the workforce. He was proud of the SBA financing that created Iowa small businesses that grew large, creating thousands of new jobs, and eventually going public. These included Winnebago Industries, Casey’s, IBP, Compressor Controls, and many many more. During part of his tenure, Iowa had the largest SBA loan portfolio in the nation with a loss rate less then 4%, one of the lowest. Conrad retired after 34 years with the Federal Senior Executive Service in 1998.

During these years with the SBA, Conrad purchased an acreage and established Lawlor Farms, Inc., a small family farm business in Polk County. The farm provided many happy years growing crops, fruit in the orchard and memories of family. This is also the place where he wanted to spend his final days.

After retirement, his interest in the performing arts was demonstrated by having played parts at Bittersweet Theater, Stoner Theater Drama Workshop, and The Des Moines Metro Opera. One of his greatest roles that is remembered fondly by his children was Roy in the Odd Couple. He enjoyed classical music, and played trumpet and French horn for recreation.

Conrad and Marge resided in Satellite Beach, Florida, during the winter months where he enjoyed surf and whale watching, observing the space launches, and surf fishing. They often entertained family and friends at Lawlorville South with their wonderful views of the ocean, enjoy cocktails at the Purple Porpoise, and burritos from DaKine Brothers.

Conrad loved making traditions. He was SUPERMAN to his grandchildren and those who knew him well, often saw him in his superman tee shirt or cape taking care of things as the Man of Steel would do. He passed on his love of all things Irish and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to his children and grandchildren. This is often a time of gathering for family at Lawlorville Farm. This celebration is revered for homemade corned beef and colcannon. Another beloved tradition for many years was the pumpkin carving contest for the grandkids, which always included his dressing in costume and having his brother Leo and sister-in-law, Bernie, as guest judges.

He was a member of the Iowa Democratic Party, American Civil Liberties Union, Iowa Civil Liberties Union, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Association of Retired Federal Employees, Des Moines Metro Opera Guild, served as President of the Story County Democratic Club, was a founder and treasurer of Northcrest Retirement of Ames, and a founder of Sertoma Club of Ames.

He is survived by his wife, Marge Lawlor; sons; Patrick, Timothy, Peter and Matthew; daughter, Elizabeth all living in central Iowa; and son, Joseph of Waterford, OH. He was very proud of the military service of 3 of his children. He is also survived by brother, Leo of Northfield, MN; stepson, Daniel Wilson; and stepdaughters; Tonya, Rebecca, and Kelly from Marge’s previous marriage and are part of his family. Together Marge and Conrad have 17 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren.

Preceding him in death, in addition to his first wife Elizabeth, were his sister Marjorie Marek of Washington, IA, brother Joseph P. Lawlor, Jr., of Winter Haven, and his parents Joseph and Loretto Lawlor of Ames, Iowa and Winter Haven, Florida.

In lieu of flowers or donations, please consider honoring Conrad’s legacy by sprinkling acts of kindness wherever your journeys take you.




Hopkins Grove Cemetery
14605 NW Madrid Drive
Madrid, Iowa 50156
Saturday, April 20, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
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