Walter James Lawless

Died: Thu., Apr. 25, 2013

Funeral Service

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Dr. Walter James Lawless, age 66, died at his home in Fletcher on 4/25/13 while working outside on a beautiful day.  Walt Lawless was a sardonic wit, devoted woodworker, and a lover of song.  A masterful clinical psychologist dedicated to the well being of his many patients, he practiced psychology in Asheville for over 30 years.  The quintessential gentle man and scholar, Dr Lawless held degrees from Vanderbilt, Emory, and LSU.  

In addition to his private practice, professional achievements and interests include being the winner of WNCPA’s William Bruce Award, a Clinical Psychologist with Heart Path, and Founder of Compassionate Friends.  He was a past board member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

He is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 40 years, Denise Cass Lawless; daughter Stephanie Lawless Sharp; son-in-law, Graham Sharp, his parents, Trevor and Jane Sharp; grandchildren, Wade and Rosalie Sharp; his brother, Phillip Lawless, his wife, Margaret Lawless and their daughters, Stacey, Amy, and Emily Lawless.  His parents, John Austin Lawless and Philippa Peck Lawless, preceded him in death.

His love for his family was rivaled only by his exuberance for life. To the extent that you were his friend, you counted yourself fortunate and privileged.   As a friend, he was ever available, dependable, and open.

If anyone ever lived life well, it was Walt.  Beloved by family, friends, and his community, his wisdom was wide and deep.    He had a generous spirit and a kind soul.  His optimism was inherent in his humor, and his humor was inherent in most everything.

Those who knew him loved him, and those who loved him were inspired by his integrity and joy to live better and more fully.  For the shear joy of his company, his family and friends will be forever grateful.

Details of a memorial service will be announced.  However, memorial gifts may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Asheville, where Dr. Lawless served on the Board and was Chair of the Family Search Committee. Condolences may be made to the family at




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Anne and Bernie Harris
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
Dear Denise, We are sending as much supportive energy your way as possible during what must be a most difficult and painful time for you. Seems to us that Walt probably died exactly as he would have wanted to die -- but twenty years too soon! We have many wonderful memories of being with both of you socially and sharing some interesting professional moments with Walt, too. In the early '80s, newly returned from our Gestalt training in California, we asked Walt if we could sublet his group room to try out a Gestalt group here in Asheville. He agreed but wouldn't charge....only charge was he wanted to participate so he could see what we had learned. That openness to the "new" and to "adventure" seemed so much a part of him. I am glad you two have been able to live your dream together these past few years and I am so sorry you did not have even more of those years together. We will watch for news of the memorial service. Take care. Love, Anne and Bernie

Robin Myer
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
Dear Denise, Stephanie and all of the family, Please know that I share your sadness in losing Walt's presence in our lives. Even though we did not interact often, I always carried some comment, or a smile away from our encounters. To have had this on a daily basis, all of you were truly blessed. If you are like me, Walt's words and essence have always reverberated within me over time. I hope that your memories of this wonderful husband, father and man will help you in dealing with this time of sadness and loss. Robin

Karen Kornhauser
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
I worked part-time for Walt about 15 years ago, doing psychological testing for Jill Wilson and him. I was only with them for about a year, but admired and respected them both. After Jill's untimely death I spoke to Walt and we commiserated about the unpredictability and brevity of life! Then maybe two weeks ago I had occasion to call Walt for some advice. We spent a few minutes catching up during with time he told me he was enjoying his family, especially his two grandchildren. He was helpful, as always, and assured me I could call him anytime. I was so shocked and saddened to see his obituary in the paper this morning. As an employer he was wonderful. I recall one time when I was bemoaning the fact that, being a single, childless woman, I never got showers thrown for me -- no surprise parties, no blender, no toaster. A few days later I was thrown a surprise shower at work "for nothing," and sure enough, there were my blender and toaster. He was a peaceful, reasonable man and I know he will be missed by those close to him. My deepest condolences to all those individuals. I look forward to seeing him in the resurrection promised by Jehovah God in the Bible.

Jeanne and Jim McGlinn
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
Dear Denise and Stephanie and family,
Jim and I wish to extend our sympathy to you and all the family. The last time we saw Walt he was riding a Segway around Fletcher Park and thoroughly enjoying the new experience. We remember fondly the picnics and parties at your home and all the moments we celebrated as our daughters grew up. You are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. Jeanne and Jim

Mikki Hunter Lewis
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
Denise, Stephanie & Family:

I was so sorry to hear of Walt's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. He was a wonderful man and I am honored to have known him. I am praying for all of you and my prayer is God will wrap his arms around you and give you peace and strength during this time. Denise, if there is anything I can ever do, please contact me. I love you.

Love in Christ,


Alison McGlinn Turner
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
Dear Mrs. Lawless and Stephanie,

I was so saddened to hear the news. Mr. Lawless was always so jovial and so welcoming to all of Stephanie's friends who visited his house frequently during our high school days. I know that you all will miss him dearly. You all are in our thoughts and prayers today and in the coming weeks. May you be comforted and at peace as your many friends and family surround you with love and support at this time.
Ali McGlinn Turner

Jay Roberson
   Posted Sun April 28, 2013
A wonderful friend, partner, and opponent on the racquetball court. Prayers for his family.

Roger Meade
   Posted Mon April 29, 2013
Denise, I am very sorry for the loss of one of my best friends. Walt was the best friend because he always gave what I needed and always supported when times were tough. You both were a joy to be with and it is still considered the best of times. Repairing the lake house, all the issues with the boats/deck, and the many fun times as families getting together will always be cherished. I thank you and Walt for being our friends and all my support in whatever you may need!

Mike & Marie Gonce (neighbors)
   Posted Mon April 29, 2013
Dear Denise,
We were so shocked to hear of Walt's untimely death. Be assured that we care deeply,and pray for you to have the strength to endure the days ahead. I personally have been comforted by the scripture at John 5: 28 & 29 which, states "All those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out". This promise from God lets us know that we will see our family and friends again in the resurrection. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

K. Dearl & Carol Wallen
   Posted Mon April 29, 2013
Carol and I are so saddened and shocked to learn of Walt's untimely passing. Walt always made us feel at ease and welcomed. To have had Walt as a friend was truly a blessing. The world is a better place to have had him in it.

Annette Ledbetter
   Posted Mon April 29, 2013
Dear Denise, Stephanie and family,
We are so sorry for your loss. We will keep your family in our prayers. May God give you strength and peace through this difficult time. Please call if you need anything.
Danny and Annette Ledbetter

Jayne Ann Fox
   Posted Tue April 30, 2013
Dear Family Lawless

Your loving and devoted Walt was a classmate of mine in the Class of '65 at Ben Franklin. What a lovely boy he was! Earnest and true, noble and self-effacing and yet solid to the core. Someone older than his years and much admired. I've thought about him occasionally across the years, and it pleases me to know he made such a success of his life. But it doesn't surprise. Be brave, be strong. Now he's on your team on the other side, doing all he can to help you. Sending warm regards from 'across the pond' in England, Jayne Ann

Nancy Johnson
   Posted Wed May 01, 2013
To Denise, Stephanie, and family
My thoughts and prayers have been with you all during these past days. I thought alot of Walter. He was always kind and thoughtful. I will never forget the "last days at MNC" and how he was so concerned about our welfare. He even sent me flowers to cheer me up! May our Lord give you continued strength during the days to come. When you're ready, Denise, we will get together. Love you, Nancy

Jay Kerr
   Posted Wed May 01, 2013
Walt cared for many of my clients over the years, and they all expressed sincere affection for him. Although professional friends for nearly twenty years, Walt and I reconnected a few years back as regular patrons of Panera cafe. Walt,his colleagues and I would enjoy the topic du jour, whether it be politics, the economy, or personal travels. We shared many laughs to kick off the day for which I will always be thankful. I am glad I will have Panera to always remind me of Walt when I visit. And, I have a lovely letter opener on my desk that Walt carved and gave me as a gift when I moved my office South and became a Panera Club Member. Leo Tolstoy once said, "Life is a place of service." Walt knew that better than any of us. Rest in peace, buddy. Jay Kerr

Tony Sciara
   Posted Thu May 02, 2013
Denise and Stephanie,

I cannot tell you how shocked and saddened I was to hear about Walt. This has brought back many, many memories for me of years long ago. When you came to town for Walt to take over the Psychology Service at Thom's, it was clear he was a very special person who was quite talented and would be giving much to the community. He was then, as he remained, a dynamic person with great talent, wonderful insight and a vision for helping others that surpassed many in our field. While we had not seen each other recently I often heard of him through others when they would give reports of his kindness, insight, support and direction. His passing brings into perspective that we are members of a larger community and he has truly given to many of us through his activities. My thoughts and wishes are with you and the family. May your memories be warm and comforting, and your sadness be tempered knowing that all of us who have known Walt have come away richer for the experience.
Tony Sciara

Robbie Isley
   Posted Thu May 02, 2013
Walt was such a great man! You both were so lucky to have each other. I always loved his humor and his kind ways. When Tripp was a young kid playing racquetball Walt (and the "guys") was always giving him encouragement and praises. Walt counselled me and helped me in one of the lowest points of my life. He helped me to know that life would be good again. He helped me to see things in my self that I had never been able to see or to face. For his strength and wisdom I will be forever grateful. And I can still remember him always filling me in on you and Stephanie. I cant tell you how sorry I am that such a wonderful man is gone at such a young age. I am so grateful to have known him.

Hank Teich
   Posted Fri May 10, 2013
Dear Denise and Stephanie:

I've known Walt since his days at Thoms. He was a kind-hearted, highly competent Psychologist, with an excellent reputation, who helped a lot of people. I am very sorry for your loss. Like others, I liked Walt a lot. We all will miss him. -Hank

Beth Bridger Watson
   Posted Mon May 20, 2013
Walt and I were third cousins---his grandmother and mine were first cousins. I remember when I was in high school and Walter was studying at Emory. Sometimes he would come out to our house for a meal and a visit. He always took time to talk to me or play a game with me, even though he was seven years older. I enjoyed seeing him again at my niece's wedding in Ridgecrest several years ago. I'm so sorry to learn of his passing and will be praying for all of you through these days.

Linda Wallace
   Posted Fri May 31, 2013
As I was at an appointment at my Radiation Specialist at the Cancer Center yesterday I was talking about my depression etc. I had been to see Dr. Lawless last August and then went on a trip to Pennsylvania. When I returned I didn't feel that I needed another appt. As we were talking yesterday I told her that I had been to see him and she told me to make another appt. and do so for sometime until I was feeling better. I was so shocked to find out that he had passed. When I had appts. with him he was such a kind and understanding person and I left his office feeling that a weight had been lifted off my shoulders just talking to him. I would like to express my sympathy to his family and close friends. I was during the short time I saw him connected with him as a careing therapist and wonderful person. My prayers are with you - Linda Wallace

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