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Hoosier Harvest Cookbook
 
Obituaries
 
Merritt Eugene 'Gene' Lawlis, 95, Bloomington

Merritt Eugene "Gene" Lawlis, 95, of Bloomington, died March 9, 2014.

Born Nov. 22, 1918, in Columbus, he was the only child of Daniel Webber Lawlis and Mabel Irene (Locke) Lawlis. He was a retired professor of English and of comparative literature at Indiana University, where he taught from 1951 to 1983.

He attended elementary school mostly in Indianapolis. For two years, while his mother was dying of tuberculosis, he lived in Columbus with two aunts. After graduating from high school in Indianapolis in 1936, he went to Wabash College, graduating in 1940.

In December 1940 he joined the Army Air Corps, almost a year before Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II. Until late 1944 he taught aerial navigation, then went to combat as an aerial navigator of B-25s in the 345th Bomb Group. 

April 3, 1945, the Japanese shot down the plane he was navigating, and they held him prisoner on Hainan Island, China, from April to August 1945. The atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima Aug. 6 and Nagasaki Aug. 9, 1945, led directly to his liberation and saved his life. He weighed 120 pounds at the time and would have lived only a month or two longer. He spent two weeks recuperating in a Japanese hospital in Sanya, on Hainan Island, then finally came home to hospitals in Indiana, where he met and fell in love with 2nd Lt. Doris Naomi Abel, one of his nurses there.

In January 1946 he had recovered enough to enter graduate school at Harvard University, on the GI Bill. After one semester he went back home to Indiana and married Naomi. Together they returned to Harvard, where he finished his Ph. D. in June of 1951. He started teaching at I.U. that fall. He taught at Wabash College in 1964-65; otherwise, his teaching was entirely at I.U.

During the last part of his life, he worked on a book about prisoners of war in 10 wars, including WWII, called "Winking at Death" (2008). His own experience is interwoven throughout.

Survivors include his wife, Naomi Lawlis; three daughters, Marcia (husband, Glenn) Gero, of Bloomington and members of New Life Community Church in Nashville,  Barbara Rand of Boise, Idaho, and Abigail Kuzma of Indianapolis; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Arrangements for a family memorial are pending. He will be buried at Fountain Park Cemetery in Winchester.

Gene was a kind man, and a true gentleman. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues and former students.

  • September 3
    Go Club at the library
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
    Gospel jam & sing in Gnaw Bone
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • September 3
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 Schoolhouse Lane
  • September 3
    Future of rural places subject of talk
    5:30 p.m. Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46 East
  • September 4
    Farmers market in Bean Blossom
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, 11 State Road 45 at 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 4
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • September 4
    "Rounding Third" at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 5
    BCHS class of 2005 reunion slated
    3 to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. Deer Run Park; Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • September 5
    "Rounding Third" at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 6
    Read to dogs at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 6
    'Ant-Man' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 7
    'Ant-Man' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 7
    Government offices CLOSED
  • September 8
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • September 8
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • September 8
    Peaceful Valley Heritage meeting
    6:30 p.m. BCCF, 209 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 8
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive, CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • September 8
    Retired teachers
    noon Hotel Nashville, 245 N. Jefferson St.
  • September 8
    Nashville Parking & Public Facilities
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 9
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 10
    'Ant-Man' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 10
    Nashville Arts & Entertainment Commission
    10 a.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 11
    "Rounding Third" at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 12
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • September 12
    Bible camp planned
    8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 5802 Old Settlers Road behind Brownie's restaurant
  • September 12
    "Rounding Third" at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 12
    Beer and live music at inn
    12:30 to 4 p.m. Story Inn, 6404 State Road 135 South
  • September 12
    Live birds of prey at fundraiser
    5 to 9 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)
  • September 12
    Concert, dinner for emergency services
    7 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • September 13
    'Ant-Man' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 14
    Beeline beekeepers club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 15
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • September 17
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 18
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    4 to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 18
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    7:30 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 19
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 19
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    6 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 20
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    2 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 26
    CCC reunion slated at state park
    10:30 a.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)
  • September 28
    American history DVD to play at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 28
    American history DVD to play at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 4
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane