James Lawrason Driscoll was born in San Francisco, California, on May 25th, 1946. He passed peacefully from this world on September 3rd, 2019, surrounded by his wife and children and his beloved cat, Archie.
Lawrie grew up on a horse ranch in Novato, California. As a boy, he rode his horse everywhere with his best friend, Noel, and was taught “all things horses” by the trainer on the ranch, a Native American of the Lakota Sioux tribe.
Lawrie was the youngest of six children. He is survived by his brothers Thomas and Michael Watters, sister-in-law Peggy Watters, half-sisters Kathy Mahan (Dwight), Tess Watters (Ray Brotherson) and Melissa Wilson, and his extended family Lisa and Lenny Enders, Sara, Alexandre, Lilith, Len, April and Mia. He was predeceased by his sisters Mary and Diane and brother Fred. He is also survived by his wife, Ginger McNew, son Matt Lawrason Driscoll, Matt’s daughter Ecordielle, daughter Delvina Faye Driscoll, and stepson Dominique Brezinski (Rachel Farnsworth).
His parents were John Lawrason Driscoll (Big Lawrie) and Mary Elizabeth Shannon (Betty). His father was an attorney in San Francisco, and his mother was the daughter of San Francisco supervisor Warren Shannon who cut the ribbon at the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Lawrie attended College of Marin and Sonoma State University. He became interested in acting at this time and began to do “Summer Shakespeare” and other theatre.
He was a conscientious objector during the war in Vietnam.
Lawrie moved to New York in the 1960s, where he met and married Maureen Byrnes while they both were performing in Oh! Calcutta!. Lawrie’s first big role was in the 1971 off-Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as Billy Bibbit, and he toured for two years with that show. He and Maureen subsequently moved to Los Angeles with their two children to continue his acting career. In the 1970s he had roles in several Hollywood films, including Rolling Thunder (1977) and Gray Lady Down (1978); he also guest-starred in various television shows including Laverne & Shirley and M*A*S*H.
Lawrie and Ginger met in Bolinas, California. In 1984 they moved in together. They married in 1991 in the chapel in Yosemite National Park. At this time they owned a restaurant and B&B in Bolinas. They moved to Washington in 1995 and have resided on Marrowstone Island for the last 22 years. They did a lot of traveling and lived for a year in a chateau in France as part of a theatre company. They were together for 36 years.
For many years Lawrie had a great interest in and studied the healing arts and shamanism. He traveled to Peru and Mexico in these pursuits. He was part of a group called BuVu (Buddhism and Voodoo). They have fundraising events for various groups in need in the area.
Lawrie’s long and successful stage and film career continued in the Pacific Northwest. He portrayed all of his favorite Shakespearean characters -- King Lear, Sir Toby Belch, Falstaff and Prospero -- as well as many beloved roles in such plays as Heartbreak House, The Price, Cabin Fever and Buried Child. And who can forget him as Dogberry, Julia Child or Puppy Boy? He directed numerous plays including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Dreamer Examines His Pillow, Romeo and Juliet, Where’s My Money, The Seagull and The Art of Dining. He was a mainstay at Key City Public Theatre, and also acted with other local groups and in Seattle, both onstage and in independent films.
He had tons of New York and Hollywood stories to tell.
He was a kind and generous mentor to many actors, young and old, and really believed in giving back to our community, which he did in many ways.
The family will host a Celebration of Lawrie’s Life on Saturday, May 16th, 2020. Details will be announced. Everyone is welcome.
Gifts may be made in Lawrie’s honor to Key City Public Theatre, 419 Washington St., Port Townsend WA 98368, firstname.lastname@example.org.