Christopher Lawler, 54, Washington Twp. teacher

Christopher Lawler
Christopher Lawler
Posted: August 22, 2014

When he found that he had advanced bile duct cancer and had to stop teaching at Washington Township High School in March 2013, Christopher Lawler set up a scholarship for students there.

The college scholarships are for Washington Township seniors "who demonstrated a passion to make a difference for other students," said Douglas R. Venzie, his life partner.

"Basically," Venzie said, the awards are meant "to promote the students who understand and create an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity."

On Saturday, Aug. 16, Mr. Lawler, 54, of Cherry Hill, an English and American literature teacher at Washington Township from 1984 to 2013, died of cancer at the Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice Inpatient Center in Mount Holly.

Mr. Lawler was given the Governor's Teacher Recognition Award in 2003 and Washington Township High named him its teacher of the year for 2003-04, Venzie said.

"He always wanted to be a teacher, because he was influenced by teachers as a teenager," Venzie said.

"He found English one of the subjects that teaches life lessons," he said, a subject that could "impact the lives of the young."

Born in Maple Shade, Mr. Lawler graduated from Maple Shade High School in 1978.

He earned a bachelor's in English at Rowan University in 1982 and a master's in English at Rutgers-Camden in 1996, and later earned his educational supervision certification there.

At Washington Township, Mr. Lawler was an adviser to the chapter of the National Honor Society.

"When he was diagnosed with stage four" cancer, Venzie said, students held a fund-raiser to honor him.

"He decided he was going to give back the money," he said. So Mr. Lawler set up a philanthropic foundation and "from the foundation, he has since awarded thousands of dollars in scholarship money."

Besides those scholarships, Venzie said, the foundation "has also committed and will continue awards to local hunger programs, literacy programs, and cancer research."

Besides Venzie, Mr. Lawler is survived by five brothers and three sisters.

A life celebration is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Westin Hotel, 555 Fellowship Rd., Mount Laurel.

Donations may be sent to the Christopher Lawler Foundation, Community Foundation of South Jersey, Box 446, Haddonfield, N.J. 08033.

Condolences may be offered to the family at

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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