Betty Lou Smith Lawton, age 91, a long-time resident of Washington, D.C., passed into Spirit
peacefully at the home she shared with her daughter in Frederick, MD on June 4, 2021.
Betty Lou was one of four children born to Clifford and Lee Russell Smith in Waterloo, IA. She majored
in Art at the University of Northern Iowa, relocating to Washington, D.C. after graduation, where
she met and married William F. Lawton, Jr., her husband of nearly 60 years. Among her other
endeavors, Betty Lou taught art at Bertie Backus Junior High school, worked as a graphic artist
for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and concluded her working career as
a Purchasing and Procurement Specialist for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Along with 19 friends, Betty Lou co-founded the Roaring 20's Social Club, meeting monthly for
over 40 years. A lifelong artist, she helped found the first Black art sorority, Theta Sigma Upsilon
in 1979 and exhibited her paintings in many Washington, D.C. area art shows.
Betty Lou was predeceased by her beloved husband, William Jr., parents, brother Clifford C.
Smith and sister Yvonne C. (Smith) Simms. She is survived by her sister Deanna (Smith) Johnson,
sons William III (Cathy) and Eric (Pamela), daughter Suzanne, grand-daughter Alexis, and two
great-grandchildren. She will forever be remembered as a loving wife and mother, a caring
sister, a kind and generous friend, a gracious, youthful and energetic aunt, and a stylish and
talented professional woman.
A private interment service is forthcoming.
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