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Remembering David Joseph Lawless

April 27, 2015 — 

Dr. David Joseph Lawless peacefully went to be with the Lord on April 22, 2015, in Calgary.

He was born and raised in Victoria, the fifth of six children of John and Constance Lawless. David graduated from St. Louis College in Victoria in 1949 where he was particularly interested in drama and theatre. Soon afterwards he contemplated a priestly life in the Roman Catholic Church and entered the seminary at Assumption College in Windsor. Shortly before taking his final vows David decided to change his direction in life and instead pursued graduate studies in social psychology. Simultaneously, while proceeding with his post-secondary education, he was employed in jobs as diverse as roofing, working in a ship-yard, prospecting, and as an immigration officer for the Foreign Service at the Canadian High Commission in London, England from 1960 to 1963.

David met his beloved wife Maria Pilar Ruiz Campuzano from Spain while studying in Vancouver. Shortly afterwards, they married in 1958 and began raising a family. As well as being devoted to his family, he dedicated most of his professional life to post-secondary education, particularly the promotion and enhancement of Catholic post-secondary education in Canada.

Throughout David’s extensive life and journeys he also lived, studied, and worked in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Madrid, Spain, Antigonish, N.S., and finally in Calgary. Through his wife Maria Pilar and her family, he developed a close bond and love for Spain, living there at times as well as visiting and vacationing with family.

Among his numerous academic accomplishments, David received a B.A. from Assumption College, University of Windsor, a M.A. from the University of British Columbia, a second M.A. from The University of London (UK), and also a PhD from the University of London. In his extensive career with colleges and universities in Canada from 1963 onward, David held the following academic and administrative positions: Professor of Psychology, University of Manitoba; Dean of St. John’s College, U of M; Associate Dean of Arts, U of M; Dean of Continuing Education, U of M; Vice President (Academic) U of M; Rector of St. Paul’s College, U of M; President of St. Francis Xavier University; and lastly President of St. Mary’s University, Calgary until his retirement in 1999.

Throughout his many world travels and work he was associated with numerous organizations that promoted world development and education, particularly the IDRC, (now CIDA), the Coady International Institute, and in his final months the Science Spirituality Health Research Institute in Calgary.

David travelled extensively as part of his academic career and met with presidents, prime ministers and popes. He was especially fortunate to have twice had an audience with St. John Paul II, and also meet with St. Teresa of Calcutta. David was also an accomplished writer, and amongst the numerous academic papers he published he wrote two texts on Organizational Behaviour in the 1970’s and 80’s. In his final years he also became a passionate writer of fiction, and one of his short stories, “My Father/My Husband” was published in the journals Prism International and Best American Essays in 2012. It is now being adapted for the stage in New York.

A member of the Calgary Ranchman’s Club upon moving to Calgary in 1996, he especially enjoyed playing bridge there and made numerous close friends and acquaintances. An avid gardener throughout his life, David often found pleasure and relaxation working in his garden. He was especially proud of the wide variety of vegetables he always managed to grow in Canada’s often unforgiving weather. He was predeceased by his loving wife of 52 years, Maria Pilar, in 2010. David is survived by his six children (David [Lynn] in Chelsea, Quebec, John [Alice] in Richmond BC, Andrew [Freda] in Raleigh, NC, Jose-Ignacio in Calgary, Denise [Keith] in Hamilton, and Daniel in Calgary), seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Velma and brother Brian in Victoria. David also leaves behind numerous extended family and friends throughout Canada (particularly in Victoria), and also in Spain.

A Memorial Service will be held in the “Father Michael J. McGivney Hall” at St. Mary’s University (14500 Bannister Road SE, Calgary) on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Pius X Catholic Church (2424-24th Avenue NW, Calgary) on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. with visitation from 10:30 a.m. until mass time. Photos, memories and condolences may be shared with David’s family through In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dr. David J. Lawless Scholarship at Saint Mary’s University, Calgary.




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