James Uhle Lawley - February 17, 1929 to February 12, 2021
James was born at home in Chunchula, AL, and was raised alternately by his parents and grandparents. He was raised in an environment of hard work, integrity, and honesty that characterized his whole life. While raised in the Jim Crow South, and a political conservative, he believed in treating all people as precious in the sight of God. He did not allow racial slurs or any off-color words in his house. His children never heard him talk negatively about others, even when he was attacked.
He went to a one-room schoolhouse, Murphy High School, then to a bible college in New York. He met Nell Allen, the love of his life at Greystone Bible Church at the age of seventeen. Despite his shyness, their romance blossomed and they were married in 1949. His life, and hers, would truly be one for almost seventy-one years.
Even at the early age of seventeen after his conversion, he knew his life's vocation was to be a missionary. His wife, Nell, also had the same calling as his at an early age; so in 1952 they departed with their 18-month-old son from New Orleans on a freighter destined for Brazil. After studying Portuguese in Fortaleza and having a new baby girl, they departed on a perilous trip to Piri Piri, Piaui, Brazil, a small town, reminiscent of the dry country of the western United States. After many difficulties, including threats to their lives, they had to return to the Mobile so Nell could convalesce after nearly dying from appendicitis.
They returned to Brazil with a new addition, another baby girl, and settled in Aracaju, SE. There they would spend the better part of their missionary lives, adding two more boys to their family.
James and Nell started a work that grew into a church which eventually grew into 5 churches. Not content to only preach, they started a school and a clinic with the volunteer help of local doctors. One of those doctors was Dr. Lourival Bomfim who became a grandfather figure to their five children. They were also instrumental in food distribution in the church as well as helping with what we would consider today to be small business loans.
They were forced to retire in 1996 and return to Mobile. to care for Nell's sister. Here, James was active in Greystone Bible Church. After Nell's sister, Nina, passed away they enjoyed their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, until Nell's health began to fail. They returned to Brazil in 2014 because they knew personalized medical care for Nell would be more affordable there. She passed away peacefully in May of last year shortly before their seventy-first anniversary.
James, as his beloved wife before him, was dedicated to serving God and others. His care for his family was admired by many. Left to mourn him are five children and their spouses, twelve grandchildren and eight of their spouses, fourteen great-grandchildren (and one on the way), two nephews, one niece, along with their children and grandchildren. He is also mourned by many, many others of all colors and backgrounds in Brazil and the U.S. who, while not of his biological family, are still considered part of his wider family. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 12 noon at Mobile Memorial Gardens Funeral Home. Visitation will start at 11am. Burial in Mobile Memorial Gardens. Condolences at mobilememoialfuneralhome.com