The second line of Everett High School’s fight song is “I am an Everett man born, an Everett man ’til I die.”
That describes Paul Lawrence through and through.
Lawrence, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 74 after a three-month battle with pancreatic cancer, was a member of the EHS state-championship football team in 1960 and graduated from the school in 1961.
Four years later, he began his coaching career, which included a stint at his alma mater, where he was the Seagulls’ head football coach from 1995-2004.
During that time he wanted to make sure that “every player knew the importance of wearing that ‘E’ on their helmets,” said Tim O’Dell, an Everett assistant football coach during the entirety of Lawrence’s tenure.
“He was a true-blue Everett High guy,” said Roger Haug, who also worked with Lawrence as an assistant coach from 1995-2004. “At Everett, we always prided ourselves on taking the kids that we were given and getting them to do the best they could. Paul did a good job of that. We didn’t always win, obviously, but we always thought we were pretty competitive.”
After graduating from EHS, Lawrence continued his football career at the University of Idaho. His first coaching job came in 1965 at Marquette High School in Yakima. Following a two-year tour of active duty in the United States Army, he returned to Yakima at Carroll High School in 1968. In 1972, he came to Cascade High School as an assistant football coach and head track and field coach.
In 1976, he took an assistant football coaching job at EHS, and in 1988 he returned to Cascade as an assistant football coach before being tabbed for his first head-coaching job at his alma mater in 1995. He was an assistant football coach at Archbishop Murphy High School from 2005 to 2007.
He compiled a 45-48 record during his tenure as the Seagulls’ head coach.
“When we finally put up some good years, he wouldn’t run the score up on anybody despite his competitiveness,” O’Dell said. “He was a true sportsman in that sense. I thought that was one of his greatest qualities.
“The kids had to adjust to Paul, and Paul had to adjust to the kids. Paul had an intensity about him and didn’t understand why anybody wouldn’t give 100 percent. There was a learning curve for the first couple of years, but Paul learned to motivate kids in different ways rather than just stomping his feet with fire coming out of his ears. He learned to talk to them. Once he did that, I wouldn’t say he was ever a bad coach, but he became a better coach.”
Perhaps partly due to his military background, Lawrence approached his coaching duties with a meticulous nature.
“He was a very professional coach who was always prepared,” said Will Soren, who served as an assistant coach under Lawrence from 1995-2004 and took over as the Seagulls’ head coach when Lawrence retired. “He organized the team really well. He made sure everybody was on the same page. He related to the coaching staff and the team in a respectful way.”
Lawrence was actively involved in the Washington State Football Coaches Association and for several years served as the coordinator for the East-West 3A/4A All-State game, held in Everett.
“He was one of the very best at organizing the all-state game. For my money, those games never would have come off as well as they did without Paul,” said Ed Lucero, a former longtime assistant football coach at Snohomish High School. “He was a good coach, there’s no two ways about it. His teams were always prepared. He was a good coach and a good man.”
Everett resident Mike Dire, a 1961 EHS graduate, was Lawrence’s neighbor for the past 25 years. Dire said Lawrence was socially active in his later years, highlighting Lawrence’s regular volunteer work with the Everett-based Immaculate Conception Food Bank, involvement with Everett’s Veterans of Foreign Wars organization and his participation in a monthly poker game with a group of fellow EHS classmates. Lawrence and Dire, both angling enthusiasts, regularly fished together for many years, taking trips as far away as Alaska. But Dire said Lawrence also liked to be alone at times to read and reflect.
“After his wife (Dawn) died (in 2011), he was a good survivor. He went on to live his life pretty well,” Dire said. “He was such an easy-going guy. Football was his life for all of those years, and after he retired and his wife passed away, I think his involvement with his church (Everett’s Immaculate Conception) was good for him. That was a big part of his life, and helping with the food bank gave him a sense of meaning. (Toward the end), he was by himself, but he was never lonely.”