Lawrence Lacy attended Texas A&M University for two years and then transferred to the University of Southern California, where he was affiliated with Cooper Jr's old fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In 1939 he left USC, enlisted in the Navy and attended Baylor University while waiting to enter Northwestern University Naval Midshipman School in 1940. Mr. Lacy was commissioned as an Ensign, USNR, on June 3, 1941, and served as Turret Gun Officer aboard the Battleship USS Idaho for 30 months in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He was present during the Aleutian Islands Campaign, Gilbert Island Campaign, Battle of Midway Island, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. He then was assigned as an Air Defense Officer on the USS Alaska for 18 months and later was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Commander in October of 1945.
It was during his early military career that Mr. Lacy began to date Mary Ann Kokernot, meeting at ports of call whenever possible. Then in 1943 during a ten-day layover in San Francisco, Ms. Kokernot transported family and bridesmaids across country and the two were officially married. After the end of WWII in 1945, Mr. Lacy settled in Waco for a while, then moved with Mary Ann to work at the Kokernot 06 Ranch near Alpine, TX. In 1955 he returned to Waco and became a Senior Vice President at the traditional Lacy family institution, the Citizens National Bank of Waco, TX. His main duty was traveling between Dallas and Austin to serve as ambassador for the bank, a vocation which left Mr. Lacy well known and well liked throughout the region.
Lawrence Lacy was a very active leader in the Waco business and community scenes. He served as a Campaign Chairman and President of Waco United Way and Waco Camp Fire Girls, a President of the Rotary Club of Waco, and a director of the Citizens National Bank and the Community Bank and Trust, Texas Bankers Association, Waco Chamber of Commerce, Hillcrest Baptist Hospital, Baylor Bear Club and Baylor Stadium Corporation.
Lawrence Christian Lacy passed away on June 26, 2011. He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years, Mary Ann Kokernot Lacy; his four children, Elizabeth Winn, Chris Lacy, Ann Brown, and Golda Brown; ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Sharpless Right. Well, what are some of your first memories of your uncle Madison?
Lacy Well, I didn’t have much to do with him because he was busy and a three to five-year-old’s not—you don’t carry on a conversation with him. But—oh, I’ve got something I’m going to—(shuffles through papers) I’m going to put this right here where I’ll find it. Now, this was a few days before Madison died.
Sharpless Okay, I’m looking at a letter dated September 25, 1956.
Lacy Madison would give each of my children gifts and write them a note.
Sharpless When they were born?
Lacy Yes. And this was my daughter Goldie. He directed this to this, and you want to read that?
Sharpless Okay, it says, “Dear Ricky Lacy,” which was her nickname. Was that a nickname he gave her?
Lacy Well, Rickson was her middle name, which was a name on her mother’s side, and so he always made nicknames out of other names, so he called the new baby Ricky.
Sharpless Okay, it says, “Your being late is being overlooked this time, but don’t let it happen again. (Lacy laughs) It is hoped that you will be lastingly grateful for your mother for all she went through getting you here and to your father, too, for whatever it was he did.” And then it has the initials, M. A. C.
Lacy That’s—I’ve got the original, and you can have that.
Sharpless Oh thank you.
Lacy It’s just a copy.
Sharpless Okay so he had a sense of humor.
Lacy Had a sense of humor. Now the gift was a savings bond, and guess the size of the gift.
Sharpless Well, it could be very generous or it could be very small.
Lacy Well you’ve just said it. He gave her a savings bond that was worth twenty-five dollars at maturity.
Sharpless Oh. (laughs)
Lacy So he took the advantage of the—he bought it for seventeen or whatever. So you know that was the way his mind worked.
Lacy Audio Clip 2
Madison Cooper Jr. takes a young Lawrence Lacy on an East-Coast trip. . . (07:57 )
Lacy Battle Creek, that’s where it was. We went up there and spent about a month, a month and a half. Got an apartment, and he had some surgery and other things. But we really didn’t travel much, because well the roads weren’t very good, and we’d go on the trains different places. But we went with him, like I told you, to—when I graduated from high school, he said, “I want to take you to Washington and New York.” And so I said, “Okay.”
Sharpless Is that 1936, ’37?
Lacy Nineteen thirty-six. That’s when I finished in high school.
Sharpless Had he done that for your brothers?
Lacy He took Roane and I to Mexico City. See, I was closer to him than they were. He took me to Washington and New York. We had a great time.
Sharpless So you left Waco on the train?
Lacy Yeah, left on the train, went to Washington, and he would map out next day what I was going to do, and he’d put me on a Gray Line tour and this and that and go see this museum.
Sharpless But he didn’t go with you?
Lacy No, I don’t know what he was doing. But he had his own room. I had my own room, and he—when we got to New York, he had negotiated in advance and in writing what the hotel rate was going to be. So we were staying right off Times Square. Elizabeth seems to think he stayed at the Y, but if he did he stayed there by himself. But the Y’s were quite a good place to stay in those days, back then.
Sharpless But you all stayed in a hotel off Times Square?
Lacy Off Times Square, and we had a very busy schedule. We went to Radio City—Rockefeller Center had just been opened, boy. Radio City Music Hall was—that really opened your eyes.
Sharpless That must have really been something.
Lacy It was something. Imagine spending all that money in a depression that the Rockefellers did and having it work out like it did. And of course, the Radio City Music Hall got to where it couldn’t make it so they made a foundation nonprofit out of it. It’s still going. They don’t have regular movies, but they have special seasonal things.
Sharpless The Rockettes are still kicking.
Lacy Still kicking. It’s amazing.
Sharpless So you went to Radio City—I mean Rockefeller Center—what else did you do?
Lacy Oh, he sent me to the Empire State Building—
Sharpless Which would have been pretty new then, too.
Lacy I think it was just completed. And he sent me out to the Statue of Liberty—well, the New Yorkers never go to that because it’s there all the time and they can look at it. (laughs) But he saw to it that I moved around. He taught me how to ride a subway, and the subways in those days were really—they were very neat and very clean and some of the rough elements didn’t hang around them like they do now. But when we got ready—we did Washington and then New York—but when we got ready to return—you could come back by ship. So we came from New York to Miami. It was kind of a cargo ship and they had passenger space. I mean, it wasn’t the luxury cruises they have nowadays.
Sharpless But for a seventeen-year-old that’s okay, isn’t it?
Lacy Boy, that’s pretty good, and I had fun on that. And we came around and docked at Galveston. But what I was getting ready to say, every night he’d arrange for tickets to a show. They weren’t on the front row; they weren’t on the center section; they were at the top of the balcony. (laughs) So I mean he was—
Sharpless Did he go with you?
Lacy Yes. He went with me and he—
Sharpless So the two of you would go and sit at the back of the balcony.
Lacy At the back of the balcony, and he would arrange and he would work the theater circuit and would find tickets to the next show and if they didn’t have any that night he’d buy them for two nights off. But he just kept going, you know.
Sharpless So he loved the theater.
Lacy Oh he really did. And he loved reading and loved history.
Sharpless Do you happen to remember what you saw? That would be quite something. Musicals or dramas?
Lacy One Touch of Venus was one. You remember that?
Sharpless No sir.
Lacy Mary Martin, I think.
Lacy Now that was a great show. We were hanging from the rafters. But you could hear, you could see.
Sharpless Those theaters are small enough.
Lacy Yeah, the theaters—they are very smart up there; they don’t build big theaters so they can charge more for the tickets. So anyway—and we never road in the taxi. We rode busses, streetcars.
Sharpless Always public transportation.
Lacy Public transportation.
Sharpless What were his tastes in food like?
Lacy He liked—he really ate—I guess it was considered healthy in those days, but pretty heavy compared to nowadays. He would eat roast and chicken and all of that. Just whatever Bertha cooked, well that was it.
Sharpless But in New York did you go out to any fine restaurants?
Lacy We went to RCA building, on top of it—
Sharpless The Rainbow Room?
Lacy Rainbow Room. We went there, had dinner, and he bought me a champagne cocktail at age sixteen. There weren’t many rules on drinking in those days, and I didn’t particularly care for it, but I drank it and I thought it was all right.
Sharpless Part of the adventure.
Lacy Audio Clip 3
Mr. Lacy speaks of his uncle's death and the legacy left to the Cooper Foundation. . . (06:26 )
Lacy I’d visit with Bertha. She was worried about him. He was driving himself to get this book finished. She was concerned that he—well, he just worked hard as could be and didn’t do much else. But he had his routine of exercise and his schedule that he had. If he had known he had heart trouble he never would have had a heart attack. Because he was that way; he’d find out, he’d research it. But he would have added years to his life had he had a good physical and studied the blood vessels stopping and so forth. Because that was what caused his death.
Sharpless He was out exercising and he had probably a heart attack, wasn’t it?
Lacy He was at the municipal stadium and it was in September and he had been down there running.
Sharpless And still warm.
Lacy And still warm and running, and he’d started his car and he kind of stretched back and he just had a heart attack. Now Bertha called me because he was off schedule. She said, “I don’t know where Mr. Cooper is and I’m concerned. Can you help?” I said, “Well, sure. I’ll be there in a minute.” So when I came down Eighteenth Street the ambulance was taking his body to ProvidenceHospital at Eighteenth and Colcord. So I went there and—I went down to the Cooper house, and Bertha was so upset that she—just wanted to find out where he was. She was really afraid of what really happened. So I went to Providence and helped identify the body and then Bertha said, “All plans have been made and I’ve got a copy of the plan.” And Mr. Hoover carried him out. But that was a real shock.
Sharpless You didn’t see that coming at all.
Lacy I don’t think he would’ve kept up the routine or he would have found out more. Because he had plans to write—he made some remarks that, “I at least have”—I don’t know how many books he said—“but three or four more books in me,” that he was planning to get out.
Sharpless So he had quite a career as a novelist ahead of him.
Lacy Yeah, yeah.
Sharpless Interesting. Well tell me about the funeral.
Lacy Well, he didn’t want—he wanted his body put in a blanket and buried. He said, “I want my remains to turn to the earth as quickly as possible.” So he didn’t want tents, chairs, none of those things. He wanted to be put in a blanket. Well, the people that handled the funeral put him in a wooden box—one of the casket boxes—and it was there on the device that lowers the body into the grave—and—
Sharpless So it was just a graveside funeral at Oakwood?
Lacy Graveside, and he had already mentioned Dr. Caldwell, the Presbyterian minister—he wanted him to do the service and he didn’t want—he described exactly to the detail, and Elizabeth’s got a copy of that. You’ve probably read it.
Sharpless Yes sir, I think so.
Lacy But we gathered by the graveside service and had a few prayers and that was it. That’s when my daughter got the note from Madison about her name and all.
Sharpless When she was a newborn?
Lacy Newborn, yeah.
Sharpless Now there’s not many members of the Lacy family on the Cooper board, is that right?
Lacy The stipulations are they’re not to be on the board. Madison had—he was afraid that the Internal Revenue was going to push that to us, and he wouldn’t be able to have his foundation the way he wanted it. So he thought of several things to prevent being accused of the foundation being just a tax trick. So there are no Lacys that are ever going to be on the board.