In Memory

Grace Gertmenian (Lawrence) - Class Of 1920

Grace Gertmenian (Lawrence)

Grace Gertmenian Lawrence

July 31, 1902 - May 25, 1991

Grace Harriet Gertmenian was born in Binghamton, New York, the third child of Christina and Gostantin Gertmenian.  There were eventually a total of eight children born in the family, although the first boy, just older than Grace, passed away at thirteen months of age.  As was Christina's habit, an older child was given a new baby to be especially responsible for, so Grace became Helen's special "big sister," when she was born in 1913, and the two sisters remained throughout their lives with each one being helped through trying times in her life by the other "special sister."  In 1918, when Grace was sixteen, the family moved to Southern California and settled into the large Victorian home that Gostantin bought on Columbia Street in South Pasadena.  Grace attended South Pasadena High School and graduated in June, 1920.

The family attended the First Congregational Church of Pasadena and it was there that Grace met Gregory Edson Lawrence, a young man born in Union, Iowa, who had also moved to Pasadena in 1918 with his family.  Grace attended Occidental College, in nearby Eagle Rock, studying English as a major, and minoring in French.  A romance between Grace and Greg began to bloom, giving Grace's parents some concerns as Greg was not Armenian, and they hoped their daughters would marry Armenian men.  So, in the fall of 1923, Grace was sent to live with her older sister, Bessie, and her husband Paul Dochian, in New York City.  Grace took an extension course at Columbia University for teh academic year.  Returning to Occidental, Grace took summer courses and was able to graduate with her class, in June, 1925.  Absence had only "made the heart grow fonder," and on June 22, 1926, Grace and Greg were married at the First Congregational Church of Pasadena.

Greg had completed two years at Occidental, where he had been president of the Freshman Class.  He dropped out of college and worked for his father-in-law in the oriental rug business for a few years, helping in the warehouse and traveling with shipments that went through the Panama Canal.  A fond memory is the tale of a camping trip Grace and Greg made when he took oriental rugs along to sleep on.

Eventually, Greg worked for an electronics firm and returned to Occidental to receive his degree in American History in 1933.  In 1934, he received his teaching credential from USC and took a job at the University School, a private schol in Pasadena.  Grace had been busy with their two little boys, Greg Jr., born in 1928, and John Kenneth, (Jack), born in 1930.

In 1934, Grace began working as a social worker for the county of Los Angeles, a job she held until 1940 when she felt her place was in the home when her boys came home from school.  She did return to work for the county, but not until 1952, when Jack graduated from Occidental College.  She retired from the county in 1963.

In January of 1938, Greg left University School and took a position teaching electronics at Glendale High School.  The following month, Grace and Greg moved into their newly completed home at 907 Columbia Street, South Pasadena, next door to the Victorian home where Grace had grown up.  Eventually, Grace's sister  Alice and her brother Connie would build homes on the block too.  Greg taught electronics at Caltech night school, during World War II, and continued to each at Glendale High School, until 1959, when he became Director of Audio Visual and Teaching Materials for the Glendale Board of Education.  He retired from that position in 1968.

After their retirements, Grace and Greg enjoyed a well-deserved life of traveling about the United States and the world, visiting their children and grandchildren and participating in their lives.  They both took up golf and played in local tournaments.  Grace became very active in her P.E.O. chapter, serving as president several terms.  Together, they called on friends and members of the First Congregational Church, which they continued to attend until Greg's death, of liver cancer in 1988, at the age of eighty-five.  Four months later, Grace, age eighty-six, had successful surgery for cancer of the right breast.

[In 1990] she still resided in the home at 907 Columbia Street, where family and friends were always welcome and graciously treated.  She drove her own car, played bridge weekly, and attended Thursday evening dinners and programs at the Pasadena City Club.