John Dean Austin Lawrence Jr.

October 1, 1936June 10, 2018

John Austin (Dean) Lawrence, Jr. passed away on Sunday, June 10, 2018 at his home. He was born on October 1, 1936 in Prentiss County to the late Alma C. Lambert Lawrence and John Austin Lawrence, Sr. On May 10, 1965 he married Rubye Penna Lawrence. He was a member of the Wheeler Grove Baptist Church. He was a musician from the age 15, and was a member of the Heismen Quartet beginning in 1969. In 1998, he retired from B & B Concrete where he had thirty one years of service. A celebration of life service will be 11:00 am on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at McMillan Funeral Home Chapel with Brother Jerry Davis officiating. Burial will be in the Liberty Cemetery. He is survived by two daughters, Jennifer and her husband, Quinn McHenry of Brooklyn, NY and Nan and her husband, Jim Holder of Tupelo, MS. He is preceded in death by his wife; his parents; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Eron and Dowe Penna; his aunt and uncle; Fay and Quindel Pierce; a cousin Janice Pierce Tigrett and a host of other family and friends. Visitation will be on Tuesday, June 10, 2018 from 5-9 PM at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Wheeler Grove Baptist Church, 21 CR 519, Corinth, MS 38834, or NEMCC Development Foundation, C/O Dean Lawrence Choral Memorial Fund, 101 Cunningham Boulevard, Booneville, MS 38829.

Condolences may be left at


  • Jennifer (Quinn) McHenry, Daughter
  • Nan (Jim) Holder, Daughter
  • Rubye Penna Lawrence, Wife
  • John Austin Lawrence Sr., Father
  • Alma C. Lambert Lawrence, Mother
  • Dean is also preceded in death by his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Eron and Dowe Penna; his aunt and uncle; Fay and Quindel Pierce; a cousin Janice Pierce Tigrett and a host of other family and friends.

  • Sam Herring, Active Pallbearer
  • David Long, Active Pallbearer
  • J.D. Moore, Active Pallbearer
  • Debbie Arnold, Active Pallbearer
  • Terry Hester, Active Pallbearer
  • Jane Sams, Active Pallbearer
  • Dee Spencer, Active Pallbearer
  • Tommy Ford, Active Pallbearer
  • Memphiss Gant, Honorary Pallbearer


  • Visitation Tuesday, June 12, 2018
  • A Celebration of Life Wednesday, June 13, 2018

John Dean Austin Lawrence Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

demetria warren

June 12, 2018

hey gigi this is Demetria warren sorry about your dad my god be with you



John Austin Lawrence Jr. "Dean" was known as many things to many people. He was a loved one, a friend, and someone special. To family and friends who knew him best, Dean will be remembered as a very exceptional person.

      Dean was born on October 1, 1936 at home in Booneville, Mississippi. He was the son of Captola and Austin Lawrence. Dean grew up in Thrasher, Mississippi and Booneville, Mississippi.

      As a young boy, Dean had a number of interests. Like most children, he enjoyed playing and making up games. He was curious about the world around him and was often eager to explore it. He began singing and play guitar in church when he was 15 years old. Dean's memorable achievements included a church mission trip to Texas and Mexico with Brother T. L. Parker. However, to Dean, the most fun to be had was simply playing and spending time with his friends.

      A typical teenager, Dean had a fairly happy high school experience, making that critical transition from adolescence to adulthood. He enjoyed some classes more than others, having favorite subjects and teachers.

      Dean enjoyed his college years, which may have been a challenge with all of the academics, responsibilities, and the sudden freedom that accompanied them, but Dean was able to manage the balancing act. He earned his Associate's Degree in Music. He became friends with Truman Dawson in the college chorus and met Dexter Benjamin, Norman Benjamin, and Bill Gant through him. They formed a singing group called the Harmony Four.

      Always considered a “good” friend to those he knew, Dean enjoyed a broad group of acquaintances and several very close friends during his lifetime. While growing up, some of his best friends were J. D. Moore, Tommy Ford, and Dee Spencer. Later in life, he became friends with Dexter Benjamin, Norman Benjamin, Terry Hester, Jerry Davis, Bill Gant, and Leon Frazier.

      On May 10, 1965 Dean exchanged wedding vows with Helen Rubye Faye Penna at First Freewill Baptist Church of Booneville, Mississippi. They were both working musicians at the time, and the wedding took place on a random Tuesday night when they and their friends had no gigs on their calendars.

      Dean worked hard to be a good father to his children and he did his best to fulfill their needs. Dean was blessed with two daughters, Nan and Jennifer.

      Fortunately, Dean enjoyed what he did for a living. Showing a strong work ethic, Dean worked diligently and did his best to succeed in his career. His primary occupation was superintendent of construction at B&B Concrete in Tupelo, Mississippi. He was employed for 31 years with B&B Concrete. After college and singing with the Harmony Four, he formed the group The Dees with Truman Dawson and Dexter Benjamin. In 1969, he became a member of the Heismen Quartet, and they performed extensively throughout the northeastern and southern United States for many years. In their later years, they began singing again in their 70s. He also formed Frazier, Shannon, and Lawrence Enterprises and went on to develop Dogwood Plantation, an assisted living facility in Saltillo, Mississippi. Dean always sought to be a team player, doing what was necessary in order to get the job done.

      Dean was a member of the National Guard. Dean was called to action by Presidential Order for duty during the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss in 1962. His fellow soldiers viewed him as a brother in arms and knew that he was as much a part of their family as their loved ones back home.

      Dean enjoyed his leisure time by taking part in various hobbies. His favorite pursuits were singing, woodworking, carpentry, Atlanta Braves baseball, and fishing. He was content to enjoy his favorite pastimes alone but was also willing to share his interests with others.

      Dean was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed following his favorite events whenever he had the chance to do so. Tops on his list were SEC Football and the Golden State Warriors. He always cheered for the Ole Miss Rebels. He also enjoyed going to Booneville High School Football games and actively followed the team for many years.

      Throughout his life, Dean was a doer and was always actively involved in professional and community organizations. Throughout his later years, Dean was an active member of the Wheeler Grove Baptist Church Deacon Board.

      Dean's faith was important to him. He was a member of Fairview Baptist Church for many years and then joined as member of Wheeler Grove Baptist Church with his wife in later years. He was Minister of Music at First Freewill Baptist Church, and the Minister of Music at Wheeler Grove Baptist Church. While at Wheeler Grove Baptist Church, he served as a Deacon and a lay pastor. He surrendered to the ministry at the age of 71.

      Though he never set out to gain individual recognition, Dean was given accolades for his many and varied accomplishments throughout his life. Some of his most prestigious awards included many awards while performing with the Heismen Quartet.

      Dean enjoyed traveling and time away on vacations. It was a chance for him to renew and relax, to visit new places and experience new things. Favorite vacations included vacationing in the Smokey Mountains in the summers while performing with the Heismen at the Inspirations' annual concert on the mountain. He enjoyed a trip to Boston with his family in 1991. He and his daughter Jennifer made several trips to Atlanta to watch the Atlanta Braves play. His wife and other daughter accompanied him on a few of these trips.

      Dean had few pets during his life. When he was a boy, he raised a calf and sold it to buy a bicycle.

      When Dean's retirement finally arrived in 1998, he was well prepared. In retirement, he found new pleasure in staying active in church, woodworking, fishing, and carpentry. He also continued to sing until the age of about 76 years old. Even in retirement, Dean continued to stay in touch with his old friends while making plenty of new acquaintances.

      Dean passed away on June 10, 2018 at his home in Booneville, Mississippi. He is survived by his daughters, Nan and Jennifer; and their husbands, Jim and Quinn. Services were held at McMillan Funeral Home. Dean was laid to rest in Liberty Memorial Gardens.

      Simply stated, Dean was a good and kind person, an individual who will for all time be remembered by his family and friends as being a caring and giving person, someone who was a vital part of their lives. Dean leaves behind him a legacy of life-long friendships and many cherished memories. Everyone whose life he touched will always remember John Austin Lawrence Jr.