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Rev. Dr. David Laurence  Mawhinney

Rev. Dr. David Laurence Mawhinney

Tuesday, February 4th, 1941 - Tuesday, September 15th, 2020
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Obituary

Rev. Dr. David Laurence Mawhinney was born on February 4, 1941 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He passed away on September 15, 2020 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia upon the 72nd anniversary of his arrival in Canada with his parents, Rev. David Mawhinney (1906-1992) and Edith McCullough (1914-2005). They settled in Rose Bay, Lunenburg County which became their home for the next three years.

Laurence spent his growing up years with his family serving Presbyterian Church congregations including: Athelstan, QC; Tyne Valley, PEI; and North Sydney, NS where he graduated from Thompson High School in 1957. During the next three years he began preaching as a supply minister in the Pictou Presbytery while working at Hamilton’s Biscuits in Pictou, NS. He enrolled at Sir George Williams University in Montreal graduating with a BA in 1964, and completed his BDiv (1966) and MDiv (1983) at Presbyterian College. His summer mission fields included congregations in Ganton, AB and Mille Isle, QC. His theological placement as a student assistant was at Knox Crescent Kensington Presbyterian Church in NDG with Rev. Dr. Clifton J. MacKay. Following ordination, Laurence was appointed minister of the Cape Breton Presbyterian pastoral charge that included: Orangedale, Lake Ainslie, River Denys, Malagawatch, and Strathlorne. Subsequently, he moved to St. Andrew’s, Pictou in 1967.

Laurence’s lifelong interest in politics led him to run provincially in October of 1970. He was unsuccessful, so went to work with the Province of Nova Scotia as an Executive Assistant to the Minister of Trade and Industry. Another unsuccessful run at federal politics in October of 1972 led him to get involved with a Halifax based shipping firm, F.C. Warren. He also continued his pastoral work in Dartmouth offering Sunday supply.

After accepting a call, Laurence was inducted into the pastoral charge of St. Andrew’s, Rose Bay and St. Andrew’s, Lunenburg on October 29, 1973. He served those churches until retirement on February 1, 2004. He returned to active ministry in 2012 serving the Lunenburg County Presbyterian Churches. In 1982, he began serving as the Interim Moderator / part-time minister of Knox, Dublin Shore and St. Matthew’s, West Dublin until ill health forced him to retire from active ministry in 2017.

Laurence served the wider Church in a variety of capacities: Moderator of the Presbytery of Halifax-Lunenburg on two occasions; Moderator of the Synod of the Atlantic Provinces (1991); Chair of a variety of committees and commissions; and supported the work of his wife, Marion, as the Camp Geddie Convenor. He was recognized for his work with the Church in 2013 when the Presbyterian College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. His long service with the Presbyterian Church in Canada concluded on September 1, 2020, with the completion of his role as the Interim Moderator for Kings Presbyterian Church in New Minas, NS. He continued to serve as the Chaplain for the Veterans’ Unit at the Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg until his death.

While living in Lunenburg Laurence found great personal satisfaction in the political arena. He ran in a by-election and was elected to the Lunenburg Town Council in 1976. He chaired the 225th Anniversary Committee in 1978 and was elected Mayor the following year. He served the community he loved for 33 years before stepping down in 2012.

He took great pride in the achievements of those years, particularly, the first Canadian infrastructure program which linked the three orders of government together in a $6 billion program for all 4,000 Canadian municipalities. The new Lunenburg & District Fire Hall, wastewater treatment plant and water protection are all visible results of this funding. He served as the lead municipal government representative on the first ever “Team Canada” mission to China and Hong Kong in the fall of 1995. He believed that the UNESCO designation obtained by Lunenburg that same year would be key to many of the opportunities which followed.

Laurence was fortunate to represent the Town of Lunenburg on many occasions, including the British Royal Visit (1983), Norwegian Royal Visit (2002), and the visit of the spouses of the G-7 leaders (1999). His role took him to Ottawa on many occasions to speak to Parliamentary Committees and Cabinet Ministers about his favorite topic, the “Town of Lunenburg.” He also travelled to Guyana as part of the Team Nova Scotia initiative to support the Guyana Association of Municipalities to develop their democratic institutions; Washington, D.C. to speak about Canadian local government with international banking executives; and the Yukon on three occasions to address the roles and responsibilities of elected and appointed officials.

During his more than thirty-six years in municipal government, Laurence developed a passion for the processes and objectives of local government. He became active in the work of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, ultimately serving as president (1989-1990). He followed the same pattern with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities also serving as president (1994-1995). He was active with the Maritime Municipal & Development Board sponsored by the Council of Maritime Premiers as a board member and chair. In a similar vein, he was a presenter at the Nova Scotia Provincial Orientation for newly elected council members for sixteen years.

Laurence’s love of community led him to volunteer with a wide range of local organizations including: the School Board; Lunenburg Minor Hockey; Boy Scouts Group Committee; Lunenburg & District Music Festival; Bluenose Golf Club; Lunenburg Community College; Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital Board; Rotary Club; Lunenburg Waterfront Association Inc.; and Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. He was an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch #23).

Besides his parents, Laurence was predeceased by his daughters: Joan Elizabeth (1971), Patricia Lynn “Tish” (2001) and his granddaughter Rachel Ann (1991). He is survived by his wife of 55 years Marion (Mason); his children: David, Michael (Selena Martell), Alison (Ian Marshall), and Suzanne (Dan Rudolf); his grandchildren: Justin, Renee, Zachary, Lexie, AJ, Hanna and Paige; his sister, Dorothea and his niece and nephews: Helen, Wallace and Donald.

Laurence Mawhinney lived life to the full believing that we must squeeze out of it every ounce of energy and meaning. He was always supported by his much more private, yet deeply devoted and caring wife, Marion, and a strong family. In fact, he would say that whatever he had been able to achieve was only possible because of their love and support at home. They knew him as he really was and still loved him. “That was the greatest gift of all,” he wrote in a 2006 reflection on his life. “To be loved unconditionally and know that you are offered this great gift is an amazing feeling, it cannot be described in words. It just has to be accepted and I do so humbly, and with my deepest expression of gratitude to my wife, Marion, and all our children.” This same love was also extended by his chosen home in Lunenburg County. Its citizens welcomed, embraced and sustained him over the last 47 years.

“I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

The family would like to express thanks to Laurence’s health care team: Dr. John Jenkins; Dr. Sudeep Shivakumar and the nurses in the VG Hospital; the VON; Dr. Ron Hatheway; Dr. Debra Gowan and Melanie Spence. Their care, support and assistance were very much appreciated.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a funeral service will not be held. A private family service will take place at a later date.

Donations to honour Laurence’s life may be made to South Shore Palliative Care, Presbyterians Sharing , Camp Geddie or to a charity of your choice, through the Dana L. Sweeny Funeral Home, Lunenburg.

The public is invited to sign a book of remembrance for Laurence on Wednesday, September 23, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 24, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Lunenburg Band Stand or at the Dana L. Sweeny Funeral Home, 11213 Hwy. # 3, Lunenburg.
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Service Details

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a funeral service will not be held. A private family service will take place at a later date. The public is invited to sign a book of remembrance for Laurence on Wednesday, September 23, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. and Thursday, September 24, from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Lunenburg Band Stand or at the Dana L. Sweeny Funeral Home, 11213 Hwy. # 3, Lunenburg.

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VD

Valerie Spidle Davis

Posted at 08:08pm
Dear Marion and family. Ralph and I are deaply saddened by the news of Rev Mawhinney's passing. He was an inspiration to everyone we know who had had the priveledge of meeting him. His memory of peoples names was fanominal. He had met Ralph's business partner only once for a very short moment and then not again for several years, yet when he saw him he called him by name. They could not believe he could remember such detail.
Rev Mawhinney was the minister of my choice after having my first daughter. I was lost in my world, and came to church for comfort and forgiveness from god, and Rev Mawhinney's services made me more comfortable then I thought I even deserved at the time. When my daughter got a little older so that she could tottle about, he did not mind, and rather enjoyed, the interruption of her tottling self as she wondered her way up the isle to see who this giant of a man was talking. He always greeted her, and all the children, with a smile and a kind word. He never minded if a baby cried in church, or was having a laughing good time while he was giving his sermon, maybe it was his marvelous voice that rung throughout the church like the sweet sound of a harp, or maybe it was just the patience that he held in his heart for every child on this earth, but whatever it was I know it made for a calmer congregation because of it.
He baptized both of my children, and married me off.....twice! I was whitness to many, many weddings and just as many funerals, baptisms, etc. I have so many memories of this great man, like so many others, that it is going to be hard to realize that he is no longer here on this earth for a chat at a church luncheon, or a church tea. I hope by reading some of these condolences it brings a bit of comfort to you and your family that Rev Mawhinney was loved very much by many.
all our best,
Ralph and Valerie Davis
TC

Tom Calkin

Posted at 11:40am
Dear Marion and Mawhinney Family

I extend my condolence to you all at this difficult time.

You do not know me, but I am an old friend who has watched Laurence's accomplishments since we met back in 1972. It was the time when Laurence ran in the federal election.

I want you to know we fondly recall our days together whenever we met. In recent years that included our connections through Lunenburg.

Simply put your husband and father was special and I just wanted to let you know there are many who feel the same as I do.

Take care during these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Tom (Tom Calkin, Falmouth/Kentville)
DP

Diane Palmeter

Posted at 11:25am
Marion, to you and your family my deepest sympathies. I was shocked and so saddened to read of Laurence’s death. He was always a joy to be around, so warm and welcoming. The last time I saw you both was at Oak Island where you were celebrating your birthday and he came right over to the table to chat. I think that that was three years ago. So often he preached at St. David’s Presbyterian church in Halifax when we were without a minister and it was always a pleasure to see and hear his thought provoking sermons or poignant references to friends who had deceased when he conducted so many funerals. Besides his busy life as a clergyman, he was able to combine his love of his community through all the years as mayor of Lunenburg, and all that that position demanded. How he did it all, I have never been able to understand. He never ceased to amaze me and I am sure you were a big part of his successful career(s). My loving thoughts are with you all. I am sure that while feeling a void, you are proud of who he was and what he did for so many. We are all his benefactors. Diane Palmeter
SH

Sandy Hayden

Posted at 06:54pm
Sandy Hayden, It is with a sad heart that I am saying good-bye to a dear friend, minister and a wonderful, warm, caring man. Reverend Mawhinney helped me in so many ways through my time in Lunenburg. I will be so ever grateful. Especially, the last time I was walking in town and got the biggest, warmest hug that I will cherish forever.
To one and all in the Mawhinney family I send you my far away hugs.
GG

Gerrie Grevatt

Posted at 10:50am
I was lucky enough to be a newspaper reporter when Laurence (I was sassy enough to call him Larry!) was mayor of Lunenburg. I witnessed how deeply he cared about his town and its citizens. In fact, I saw how deeply he cared about so many people.
I was unaware Larry was ill and regret that I didn't have an opportunity to say goodbye.
I feel privileged to have known him. He was a wonderful, kind and powerful man.
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