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In Memoriam: Wes Lawson


2022/06/04



Article & photos by Tom Brannon

The horse world lost another of its stalwart supporters on May 5, 2022 when Weston “Wes” Galloway Lawson, Jr. passed away peacefully in his sleep after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 72.

Wes was born October 12, 1949. He attended Grahamwood Elementary, graduated from East High School (1968), and then attended Memphis State University. He served in the Naval Reserve from 1968 to 1974; he was activated in 1969 and served 18 months active duty as an aircraft mechanic on the USS Intrepid. When he returned home to Memphis, he took a job at Kisber Auto Parts, where he earned the name “Super Wes” because of his uncanny memory of auto part numbers.

It is appropriate that Wes grew up on a horse farm. His Father, Weston G. Lawson, ran Rolling L Ranch and Stables training and boarding farm in Bartlett, Tennessee. I first met Wes when we were both about 11 years old at Lawson’s Stables, where my sister Melinda boarded her horse. In fact, Melinda purchased her first horse from Wes’ dad. On Friday nights in the summer, the kids at the barn, including Wes on his gaited horse named Society Boy, would hack up Austin Peay Highway to the Raleigh Saddle club shows. They would hack back late at night trying to stay awake in the saddle.    
Wes and Rose Marie were regular attendees at the Germantown Charity Horse Show Ball because that’s where Wes proposed to Rose Marie and she finally accepted, after he persistently had asked her about ten times. Wes was Rose Marie’s older brother’s best friend when they were teenagers. Rose Marie said that Wes spent as much time at her house as he did at his own, but she did not like him much back then. Her description was that she was a little proper and he was a little wild. Her story is that one evening after Wes got out of the Navy, her brother asked Wes over to his house for dinner and her sister-in-law invited Rose Marie; but neither knew the other was coming to dinner. After that, they started dating. Rose Marie went back to college in California, but Wes kept writing her letters and sending her flowers and pictures of him holding her horse. 

In 1976 Wes and Rose Marie married, and in 1977 together they started Oak View Stables (OVS) in Germantown, TN. They later moved the business to Olive Branch, MS, but the property was not even on the market. They literally knocked on the farmer’s door and asked him if he wanted to sell. The farmer said, “Mark off what you want and I’ll sell it to you.” Oak View Stables now encompasses 70 acres.  

Together with their sons Phillip and Trey (who was only 5 years old at the time of purchase), they built the house, barn with arena, cleared and fenced the land. Rose Marie said that Wes could fix almost anything: plumbing, electrical, trucks, and farm equipment. He also ran a horse transport business, hauling horses all over North America. 

Wes never met a stranger and always had a joke or two to share. Nancy and I enjoyed covering the OVS shows when Wes was announcing because he always brought humor to the mundane task of announcing riders’ and horses’ names. She noted some of Wes’ humor in an article about one of the shows: “Announcing the rider and horse, Over the Rainbow, Wes commented ‘That’s where bluebirds fly.’ Another time, he held up his walking cane and asked me, ‘What is this?’ I wasn’t sure, so he replied, ‘Raisin’ cane!’ [groan]”

Wes became a friend, father, uncle, or grandfather figure to many. Wes was always helping others, even in death, as he donated his body to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for research.

He is survived by his wife, Rose Marie, son, Weston “Trey” Lawson III (Rachel) and son, Phillip Lawson (Laura) and granddaughter, Aria Marie all of Olive Branch, MS. Two sisters, Victoria Hendrickson (Dyke) of Newbury Port, MA and Melissa Galloway of Memphis, TN. Wes also leaves many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends across the country.

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