In Memory

Connie Lea Becker (Lawrence)

Connie Lea Becker (Lawrence)

Connie Lea Becker Lawrence

13 Oct 1954 in Wichita, Kansas - 23 Mar 2020 in Wichita, Kansas

Connie was her parents' only child and resided in Wichita, Kansas her entire life. For the first 22 years, she even resided in the same house, a house that her father had won in a church lottery before she was born. The first time she moved away from home, she had only lived in an apartment for four months before deciding that she could not afford the rent, so she moved back home with her parents. She then lived with them until she got married two years later.

After the first semester of the second grade, she was promoted to the second semester of the third grade at McCormick Elementary school in Wichita. That resulted in her graduating a year early from Wichita West High School at the age of 16 in 1971. Having no interest at the time in continuing her formal education, Connie didn't feel there was any advantage to having graduated high school early as she spent her first year after high school becoming old enough that someone would hire her.

Having reached her adult height, she stood just 4 feet, 11 inches in her bare feet which always made her appear to be younger than she actually was. She finally landed her first job working for Carl and Jean Duncan in the business office at Airway of Wichita.

In June of 1975, Connie and her high school sweetheart, Mike Doherty, began making plans to marry. He gave her an engagement ring for her 21st birthday (October 13, 1975) and they announced that their wedding date would be October 30, 1976 but Mike passed away on December 15, 1975, only one week after suffering a stroke. Connie said she felt helpless standing at his bedside in the hospital not knowing what to do for him while nurses came and went performing the various medical procedures his condition required.

Connie told herself that she would do everything she could to see that never happened again. She rented that first apartment with roommate, Roberta Lillie; took a sales job at Stuart's women's apparel store in Towne East Square in Wichita to help pay the bills; and enrolled as a freshman at Wichita State University in the fall of 1976. She graduated with honors from that institution's School of Nursing as a degree nurse in the spring of 1980 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. She passed the Kansas State Board of Nursing's examination becoming a registered nurse on her first attempt that summer, even though most of the graduate nurses in her class did not.

Connie met Bob Lawrence in the Positive Christian Singles group at Central Community Church of God in Wichita on August 2, 1978 and on October 13, 1978 (her 24th birthday), they announced their engagement to be married the following January. Pastors Dale and Judy Lewis performed the ceremony at Central Community Church of God on the cold and snowy evening of January 12, 1979. The Lawrences made their first home at 4508 South Oak Street in Wichita. In November of 1988, they purchased a home at 264 South Willo-Esque Street in Wichita where they resided until Connie's passing 32 years later.

After working as a prenatal nurse at H.C.A. Wesley Hospital, Connie worked in geriatric nursing care at several long term care facilities in Wichita including Prairie Homestead, Hillhaven and Larksfield Place.

She then went to work in the medical office of Dr. Chandler Bethel, M.D. in Wichita. Up until that point, Connie thought that being a nurse in a doctor's office would be the worst nursing experience she could imagine but she soon found that she actually enjoyed working with the christian doctor and his staff in Dr. Bethel's office.

She was recruited for her next job as a nursing clinical instructor at Butler County Junior College. Although the school itself was in El Dorado, Kansas, the clinical rotations were all taught in Wichita hospitals. After she took the job, she learned that a Masters degree was a requirement of that position and that she would have to at least work toward earning one if she was going to keep the position. Earning a Masters degree was never one of Connie's goals so she resigned the position when it became obvious that she had no intention of even working toward obtaining one.

Next, she worked as an oncology nurse at Via Christie St. Joseph Hospital in Wichita. After that, she went to work for West Wichita Family Physicians in Wichita becoming the primary nurse in the medical practice of Dr. Ronald Reichenberger, M.D. for 5 years. Finally, she became the primary nurse in the medical practice of Dr. Scott Kardatzke, M.D. for another 20 years.

She was a talented individual who could do anything that she set her mind to and do it very well. Her husband once asked her why she had not set her sights on becoming a medical doctor instead of a registered nurse and she said, "Because I didn't want the responsibility of being a doctor." Note that she did not indicate that she had any doubts she could have become a doctor if that had been what she wanted to do.

Connie began each day with prayer and by studying her Bible. She was a cheerful person who loved to sing and dance as she knew where her future lay and that she would be receiving salvation through God's loving grace.

She retired from West Wichita Family Physicians on January 1, 2020 after having been a registered nurse for 40 years. She was excited to get started on the many projects she had put aside to work on in her retirement but she passed away unexpectedly from natural causes at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita on the evening of March 23, 2020 after 41 great years of marriage to her best friend, her loving husband who survives, as do two step-sons and three grandchildren, each of whom she thought the world of. Those feelings were mutual.

Then Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly, issued an executive order prohibiting traditional funerals in Kansas at the time Connie passed away. The order only allowed for up to ten mourners to assemble and then only for a graveside service, due to a worldwide pandemic of the COVID-19 coronavirus at that time.

Highland Cemetery's official address at Winfield is 425 Amos Becker Road. That two-mile stretch of paved road runs from where it junctions with U.S. Highway 77 near the south edge of Winfield, west along the south bank of the Walnut river, up a hill to the south and then west through Highland Cemetery before turning to the south again where it ends when it intersects with Winfield's West 33rd Avenue. Amos Becker (1844-1912), for whom the road is named, is also buried in Highland Cemetery and was Connie's great-grandfather.


Connie loved the tree trunk gravestones offered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by the Modern Woodmen of America and the Woodman of the World, both of which were fraternal insurance benefit societies. She understood that unengraved gravestones like those were extremely difficult to locate and, even if one were located, it would be expensive to acquire. Still, she wanted one for her headstone. Bob and Connie discussed the subject at length with Bob saying his preference would be to have a double headstone instead with both of their names and dates engraved on it. They both wrote out what they each finally decided and put the paper with other papers that would be needed at their time of death. Connie wrote:

"I want to be buried next to Bob in the plots we have at Highland Cemetery, Winfield, Kansas. I probably have more relatives and know more people buried in Highland than in any other cemetery in the world. And it is a beautiful cemetery. AND I still want my tree trunk headstone, although I'm okay with it being a foot stone so Bob & I can have a double headstone."

After Connie's passing, Bob tried to find an unengraved Woodman tree trunk headstone like she wanted, but to no avail. During his search, he learned there were gravestone companies that would custom make any granite gravestone one wished. It would be expensive to have one specially made, but at least tree trunk gravestones were available.

Bob then met Luke Bowker, the gravestone salesman who designed the double headstone that is on Bob and Connie's graves. Bob wrote:

"It was affordable, so I ordered that headstone for our graves. She wanted a tree trunk gravestone and that is a tree trunk gravestone. It is my hope that she would like it."

by Bob Lawrence

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Some of you may know that my step-mom, Connie Becker Lawrence, was in the hospital for the last 10 days with health problems from scoliosis of the liver. She passed away last night at only 65.

I say Connie was my step-mom because technically she was, but she was so much more than that to me. More like a Fairy godmother. She took me and my brother into her household when we were wild young things, badly in need of discipline. I feel like she turned my life around.

As far as I know Connie never performed any miracles (except for staying married to my dad) but she is the only person I've met that I would vote in favor of becoming a saint. Her only fault was her never ending helpfulness. It was very easy to unknowingly take advantage of her because she would never say "No".

Jennifer R. Lawrence, my wife, said nobody will enjoy heaven more than Connie. I couldn't agree more.

Dad told me last night a friend of his once said of Connie that she would give you the shirt off her back and then tailor it to fit you. That's Connie.

Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, there are no plans yet for any funeral services. That's too bad because Connie would have drawn quite a crowd.

"We'll miss you, more than you know."

by Roger Lawrence
March 24, 2020

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07/23/21 03:43 PM #1    

Donald J Stegink

Just such wonderful words. Thank you both for sharing.

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