Lawrence Waltman passes away at 100
● By J. Chambless
Lawrence A. Waltman, 100, lifelong resident of Jennersville, passed away on Oct. 29 in his home. He was born in 1918 and moved to Jennersville in 1928. Lawrence lived in Jennersville for most of his life. He had three brothers, Smedley, Willard, and H. Brinton Waltman. He was an avid baseball fan and also played on the Kelton Roses local baseball team. He helped his father, G. Roy, and mother, Laura Quimby Waltman, run their dairy farm, then would go play baseball. He was on the Avon Grove track and field team, winning gold and silver medals in competitions including the State Championship.
Lawrence’s father opened Sunset Park, a country music venue, in 1940 by taking a field from his farm and creating a stage for performers, and an open-air seating area for families from all over to spend their Sundays in a family-friendly environment. Every Sunday until 1957, when his father passed away, Lawrence would help his father run Sunset Park.
Lawrence took over the venue and ran it with the help of his wife, Hazel, and family until 1995, when a large snowstorm collapsed the roof. Many country music stars from Nashville started their careers by playing at Sunset Park, and many have gone on to be huge superstars.
Hazel Flannery performed at Sunset Park with a band called the North Carolina Ridge Runners. This is when Lawrence and Hazel met and fell in love. They married in 1943 and had three children, Anita, Larry, and Donald. Lawrence and Hazel were married for 72 years until her passing on June 30, 2015, on the day of their 72nd anniversary. Hazel was 94. The couple had eight grandchildren, Brenda, Connie, Jennifer, Craig, Trisha, Courtney, Taryn, Casey, and five great-grandchildren, Adaline, Noah, Will, Elena and Rocco.
Lawrence contributed to the community by serving as a leader for many organizations. He was a Charter Member and First President of Oxford Hunt Club, President Avon-Grove Alumni Association, President Avon-Grove School Board, served as Penn Township School Director and Chairman of Penn Township Planning Commission. Lawrence was on the Board of Governors of West Grove Community Hospital. He also was a member of the Oxford Lodge No. 353 F. & A. M. for 50 years. In 1988, Lawrence received the Lions Club Annual Service Award.
Lawrence’s choice of farming equipment was John Deere, and he was a Charter Member of the John Deere Waterloo Boys and also Charter Member and President of Home and Farm Home Antique Association. He was President of Chester County Dairyman Co-op.
Lawrence, along with the Waltman family, have been recognized by the Country Music Association for their many accomplishments and contributions to country music and how they helped advance the country music industry by providing a family-friendly platform for all to enjoy. Lawrence was a member of the Country Music Association and Country and Bluegrass Music Association.
On Aug. 12, 2018, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission honored Sunset Park with a marker along Route 796 near where the entrance of Sunset Park used to be. The family is pleased that Lawrence got to be a part of this dedication.
His contributions to the community and to his family will be deeply missed. He was a great man, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. We will all miss you.
Lawrence established a scholarship fund to assist students who wish to further their educations. Donations in his memory may be made to the Avon Grove Scholarship Foundation, PO Box 266, West Grove, PA 19390.
Friends and Family may visit Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home Inc. (86 Pine St., Oxford), on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. A Masonic service will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, at Oxford Masonic Lodge (245 N. 3rd St., Oxford). Friends and family may visit from 10 to 11 a.m. The service will be held at 11 a.m. Interment will be private.