Voices Brought Them Together
Janet Gail Lawson was born September 24, 1937 in Detroit, Michigan to Leighton and Jewell Lawson. She was the middle child of three girls. Her father owned three Mobil Oil stations and did quite well for the family when at the age of 37, he decided to become a full-time minister.
He enrolled in Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee, when Janet was five. After that, the family moved every few years, from Henderson to West Helena, Arkansas to Clinton, Oklahoma. The family eventually ended up in Memphis, where Janet enrolled at Treadwell High School. Though she was not thrilled with the move, things got easier when she got to sing in the senior choir as a freshman and met a cute senior named Gerald Reeves.
Gerald Lee Reeves was an only child, born February 7, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee to Mattie Clarice and Edgar Reeves. His father worked for the Ford Tractor Company. Once Gerald was in high school at Treadwell, he became a frequent visitor at the Lawson home, which made Janet’s father a bit uneasy. It was decided that she would attend Harding Academy in Searcy, Arkansas her senior year. Gerald kept the spark alive, however, by driving to Searcy every other weekend to visit.
After graduation in 1954 from Treadwell, Gerald joined the Marines serving two years active duty and six years in the reserves. Janet transferred to Memphis State to take prerequisites for medical technology school and to be closer to Gerald. Gerald was also at the U of M, studying engineering.
Janet was accepted to Baptist Medical Technology School and fiercely pursued her dream of becoming a med tech. Two weeks after her graduation and four days before her birthday, she became Mrs. Gerald Reeves. On September 20, 1957, she was the first bride to walk down the aisle of the new Macon Road Church of Christ auditorium, where her father preached.
Gerald was working for an architect, who was working on an Exxon contract, when Exxon offered him a job, even before he completed his college degree. Gerald worked full time and went to school at night, while Janet worked at Baptist Memorial Hospital on Union Avenue, Blood Banking. In February of 1961, their daughter Karen was born and two and half years later in July of 1963, their son Bruce arrived. When the kids were born, Janet took a work hiatus.
In 1967, Exon moved Gerald and the family to Birmingham and to Mobile, Alabama. He played a significant role in developing Esso fuel stations along the Gulf Coast. Janet continued her career here at Baptist Montclair. In 1970, they moved back to Memphis, living in Germantown. They joined White Station Church of Christ where Janet prepared meals for those who were ill and bereaved and taught in the children’s program. Gerald distinguished himself for providing doughnuts and coffee for the joint Heirs Bible class for 40 years.
Janet retired in 1996 as a med tech at Baptist Central. Most of her 40-year career was spent there in heart surgery. During those years, she worked on blood coagulation and open heart and heart transplant surgeries. After she retired, they built a house on Pickwick Lake and practically went every weekend. Gerald was still working when Janet discovered her artistic talent. She took drawing lessons, then went with a small group to study art in France for three weeks. She got so good, that a friend who owned a car dealership they had met through church asked her to do a painting he could put in every car he sold. When the details were worked out, she agreed and painted for him for a year and a half. It was none other than Bud Davis. Janet made enough money to build a large art studio in their home.
In 2001 Gerald retired after 41 years at Exxon as a Senior Marketing Engineer. They traveled and spent time enjoying their lake house.
In 2017, they sold their home and moved to Kirby Pines. They looked at several communities, but Janet had already been attending the Book Baggers three years prior, and after meeting all the smart, interesting members of that group, she had made up her mind for the two of them. The one stipulation was they wanted the apartment they had seen two years prior in Memphis Magazine and it just happened to be available. It was simply meant to be, it was God’s will.
Since moving in, Gerald enjoys relaxing with their dog Coca and looking at their beautiful view from their balcony. Janet has taken up Mahjong and they both enjoy dancing. By now, you surely have met the Reeves, if not, they are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They even sent me home with homemade cookies after our interview. Yum!