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1944 Dewey 2021

Dewey Tull Lawson

February 6, 1944 — March 11, 2021

Dewey Tull Lawson of Durham died on March 11 at the age of 77, at the Duke Hospice Hock Family Pavilion.

Dewey is survived by these members of his family: his wife of 54 years Elizabeth Booker Lawson (Bet) of Durham; his son Jonathan Dewey Lawson and his wife Susan Marie Gleason of Seattle; his son Neal Becton Lawson, his wife Becky Wagner Lawson of Arlington, VA, and their children Cooper, Booker and Sadie Lawson and Caroline, Alden and C.J. Wagner; and his sister Debra Lawson Emmons of Raleigh, and her children Alicia Gagliardi, Suzanne Jones, Joanna Cash, Lindsay Kornely, Lawson Love and Logan Kalmbach. Dewey was the son of the late Herman Dewey Lawson and Ann Becton Lawson of Smithfield. He was also predeceased by his parents-in-law Benjamin Walton Booker (Put) and Ruth Neal Booker of Smithfield, and by his daughter-in-law Jennifer Lynn Lawson.

After graduating from Harvard University, Dewey earned his Ph.D in physics at Duke University, and pursued a career in that field at Cornell, at Duke, and at Research Triangle Institute, where he worked with a team developing cochlear implant technology to restore hearing for people with profound hearing loss. He taught courses in acoustical physics at Duke, bringing together his love of music, science and architecture. He was an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Durham, and as a volunteer served as a Boy Scout troop leader and as timpanist with the Durham Symphony.

Intellectually curious as well as a creative lifelong teacher, he delighted in following and encouraging the interests of his sons and grandchildren. His family, friends, and colleagues will remember Dewey as a singularly kind, generous, wise and humble person.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be directed to the Phillips Brooks House Association, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138 (, or to the music program of First Presbyterian Church, 305 East Main Street, Durham, NC 27701 (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dewey Tull Lawson , please visit our flower store.


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