R. Keith Lawton

Private family services will be held at a later date for R. Keith Lawton, 93, Lawrence, KS.  He will be inurned in the Pioneer Cemetery on the West Campus of the University of Kansas.  He passed away Friday, August 17, 2012.

He was born on June 4, 1919 in Americus, KS, the son of Henry B. & Edna Lowe Lawton. He graduated from high school in Kiowa, KS.  He attended Emporia State University before entering the US Navy.

Keith served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Following the war, he was a 1947 graduate of the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Business Administration.

He was the retired Vice Chancellor of Campus Planning and Development for the University of Kansas. He served his beloved university for 34 years. He strongly believed in good “town & gown” relationships.

He began his career with KU from 1948-1951 as the Director of Dormitories.  From 1952-1962, he was the Administrative Assistant to the Chancellor.  He then became the Vice Chancellor of Operations and continued in that position until he became the Vice Chancellor for Campus Planning and Development.  After his retirement in 1982, he remained as a Special Assistant to the Chancellor. During his career, he served nine chancellors.

Keith’s “half wagon wheel” campus concept delineated the design of the campus physical future. The approximate value of the projects that moved forward from inception to completion during his career was nearly $1B.  He also initiated a regularly scheduled format of liaison meetings with: The City of Lawrence, Douglas County, Southwestern Bell Telephone, Kansas Power & Light and the Kansas Highway Patrol.  He also served as a liaison with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office (prior to the University establishing of the University Counsel’s Office) on all matters relating to facilities, construction and parking. He was actively involved in the creating of a Master Plan for the University and then implementing it and carrying it out. He also was involved in the preparation of many applications for Federal facilities support on both the Lawrence and Medical Center campus. He taught University Campus Planning in KU’s Graduate School for several years.

Keith was an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoor sportsman. He was a loving husband and father.

In community service, Keith was a member of the Lawrence Noon Rotary Club since 1950.  He was designated as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1988. He was a member of the
Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Physical Plant Administrators, Society for College and University Planners, the Watkins Community
Museum, the KU Alumni Association (life member) the Kansas University Retirees Club, as well as serving as the United Way Fund Drive Chairman.

He was married March 28, 1942 in Emporia, KS to Phyllis Ann Hughes.  She survives of the home.

Survivors include a daughter, Leslie Ann (husband, Ted) Talmon, of Durango, CO; a son, Chad (wife, Sylvia) Lawton, of Montrose, CO; two sisters, Phyllis L. Poper, of Seal Beach, CA, Martha J. Walker, of Ft. Smith, AR; five grandchildren Melissa Turner, Lindsay Lawton, Seth Talmon, Joshua Talmon, and Skylar Masten), and three great grandchildren.

The family suggests memorials in his name to the KU Endowment Association or to the Lawrence Salvation Army and may be sent in care of the Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

5 Condolences

  1. Bev and Bill Mayer on August 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Phyllis and Family —
    The 1950s were the Golden Age for Kansas University. KU had never been administered as well before then and has not been since. Reason: The leadership of an incomparable four: chancellor Franklin Murphy, executive secretary Ray Nichols, dean George Baxter Smith and director of physical facilities Keith Lawton. Keith had his hand in zillions of key matters including the building of
    Allen Fieldhouse and is one of the most positive and productive people ever to serve KU, Lawrence and Kansas. The loss of the last of that Fabulous Four has to hurt a lot but let’s keep in mind the great contributions of Keith and Co. and feel proud and dignified for being able to share his great personality, humor, intellect and achievements. There are no such great leaders on the local scene right now. May we soon find some.
    Our best, Bev and Bill Mayer

  2. Sharon Walker on August 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    My condolences over the loss of Keith. He led a wonderful life and we can be thankful for that. Your many cherished memories will be a source of comfort during the days and months to come. May his life remind us to cherish each moment. When I lost someone dear to me, I was told of a precious hope found in the Holy Scriptures. Jesus relayed a promise from his heavenly Father-Jehovah-(Ps.83:18) that the hour is coming in which there would be a bringing back to life (or resurrection) of all those in the memorial tombs (John 5:28). I draw comfort knowing that one day I will see my sister again and will be able to embrace her right here on earth. (Psalms 37:29) Although it doesn’t completely take away the pain that is felt today, I pray that you can draw comfort from that same hope of seeing Keith again and embracing him. Loving thoughts and prayers of peace are with you. Jeremiah 29:11,12.

  3. Bill Cushing on August 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Phyllis and Family
    My heartfelt condolences to you all at this time. Keith was a wonderful, fun, caring man and the likes of which I suspect we won’t see again. I so enjoyed being able to know him and experience the hunts and then the stories afterward. He will be greatly missed.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to you all.
    Bill Cushing

  4. Robert M.Still Jr. on August 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Melba Still
    Robert M. Still Jr.

  5. Susan Dunlap Wakefield on August 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Dear Chad and Sylvia,

    Although it has been many years since I knew your father, Chad, I have such fond memories of what a wonderful man he was and what a lovely couple he and your mother were. You were very fortunate to have such loving parents and I know they were grateful to have your love in return.

    Please give my deepest sympathies to your mother and sister and know that I am thinking of all of you during this sad and difficult time.

    Warm thoughts of peace and comfort to each of you……Susie

Leave a Condolence