The call to Capt. Marty Lawrence rang out from the dispatcher, but there was no answer. The Tyler Fire Department sounded Lawrence's end of watch call to the truck at the Flint Cemetery Thursday where Marty and Jean Lawrence were laid to rest. 

Dozens of flower bouquets adorned the altar in the Green Acres Baptist Church worship center where hundreds of family and friends attended the memorial service for the 24-year veteran of the Tyler Fire Department and his wife, Jean.

A slide show of the Lawrence family photographs including their four children, seven grandchildren and their pets showed a glimpse into the couple's life.

The officiants, Ryan Tomlin and Kris Shustella, honored the devout Christian couple with words from Scriptureand a message of hope.

As soloist Adam McMahon strummed his guitar he encouraged everyone to sing one of Marty's favorite songs, “Our God.” 

Tomlin said the people who lived out by Lake Palestine would miss the weather reports Marty regularly sent in military time. 

"Even when the TV channels went out, we would still know when the bad weather was coming," Tomlin said.

Shustella spoke about the Lawrences steadfast foundation in Christ and noted that all Marty and Jean did, they did for the glory of God. 

"Marty and Jean had a great impact on many," Shustella said. "The thing that made them different was how they saw the things we see around us. For them, they saw healing and hope."

Jean was remembered as a prayer warrior and encourager. A woman who was always able to see the needs of others and meet their needs. 

Shustella encouraged the Lawrence children to not forget their parents' legacy and to follow that legacy. 

While McMahon strummed his guitar for the last song he made note of Marty's omelets and Jean's amazing pies. 

"They could cook," he said. "They made these Belgian waffles that were slap your face good." 

Members of the Tyler Fire Department in dress uniform with their badges shrouded formed two rows outside the church as the family passed through to the two awaiting hearses.

Tyler Police Department's motorcyle patrol followed by fire trucks and other first responders led the processionto the Flint Cemetery.  

Traffic was stopped along the 14-mile drive. Many people along the route removed their hats, some saluted and others put their hands over their hearts as the procession of fire trucks and emergency response vehicles passed. 

Chaplain Danny Bristow presided over the graveside ceremony. He spoke of the trips he and Marty made to Kilgore when they were attending firefighter school. 

"Jean Cummings finished Marty's puzzle," Bristow said. "Jean made him complete and he shined as the man God wanted him to be after she came into his life."

The Lawrence children each placed a rose on their mother’s and father's caskets. A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as a U.S. flag was folded by the Fire Department's honor guard and given to the Lawrences’ oldest daughter. 

The couple died Saturday in a wreck while traveling in Arkansas. They were known as dedicated parents, devout Christians and the founders of the EXEL Athletic Association, an East Texas sports team for home-schooled children and troubled youth in state custody.

Lawrence began working for the Tyler Fire Department in 1993 and was promoted to driver engineer in 2004 and to captain in 2008.

The past eight years he worked in an administration role and served as the interim assistant fire chief from August 2016 to April 2017.

The Lawrences are survived by three children, James, Alex and Laura, and were preceded in death by their child, Andy.


TWITTER: @LouAnnCampbell


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I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.