Longtime Moab resident Merv Lawton passed away on the evening Jan. 9, 2014. He was born July 7, 1922, to parents Eddie and Alfred Lawton of Cape Town, South Africa.
Mervyn attended Bishops, a leading private boys school in Cape Town, where rugby and cricket were his sports, and ultimately graduated with a degree in mining engineering from the University of Witwatersand, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
His studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he served as a Spitfire pilot in North Africa and Italy. As a young Major, he returned to “Wits” in 1947 to complete his degree and start his mining career at one of the many gold/uranium mines around Johannesburg. In this period he met and wed (in 1951) Elspeth “Penny” Lawton.
In 1957, the Lawton family emigrated to Elliot Lake, Canada, a uranium boom town in northern Ontario. The next move was to become the manager of a copper mine near Lac La Ronge, an even more northern town in Saskatchewan. In 1971, Mervyn was transferred to Moab to take on the role of mine manager of Rio Algom’s property in Lisbon Valley.
What started off as a four to five year assignment in the U.S., became a love affair with Moab and the surrounding community. He often noted that the climate and flora was much like coming home to his native South Africa. Mervyn retired from Rio Algom in 1988 but stayed active in the community, being elected as county commissioner and acting as the chairman of the commission for two years. After stepping away from this duty, Mervyn filled his time raising sheep and caring for rescued animals with his significant other, Sam Cunningham.
Mervyn is survived by his former spouse, Elspeth (Penny) Lawton and his current partner, Sam Cunningham. He is also survived by five children and five grandchildren: Dr. Wendy Lawton of Metamora, Mich., and her three grown children, Gillian (and her husband Cam Gzym), Antonia, and Nicholas; Mark and wife, Jane Lawton, of Vancouver, Canada, and their two grown daughters, Samantha and Claire; Bruce and wife Peggy Lawton of Salt Lake City; daughter, Judy Lawton, and son, Tim Lawton, both of Salt Lake City.