Billie Jean Lawson (1940 to 2021) wanted an obituary that was unlike those you usually read in the paper or online. We hope we have done her proud.

Billie was a bobcat. Her life began in Bristol, Tennessee. She was a fierce presence, an iron-willed mountain woman. She was known for holding her ground any time she felt she was right or if she believed someone else needed a champion.

A friend commented that Billie was a bobcat and, in many ways, she was. Billie was solitary and territorial. She was intensely protective of her clan. She would go toe-to-toe with anyone to protect her daughters Kim (Jim) Cortez and Cindy (Ben) Kluck-Nygren, her grandchildren James Keith Cortez, Kristine (Alex) Tracy, and Riley (Devan) Nygren-Scott, her late husband Werner Lawson, and her former husband and friend of nearly 70 years, Stanley Kluck. She was just as protective of her packages of mini powdered doughnuts.

While Billie’s diminutive stature may have fooled some into thinking she could be easily swayed, they quickly learned otherwise. She spoke her mind freely, loudly, and with conviction. She didn’t hesitate to let you know where you stood. But Billie would also stand up with you – or for you – if she believed you needed her protection. Billie embraced life and lived on her own terms. Her presence commanded the attention of everyone in the room. There was no experience she wouldn’t try and anyone who encountered her left with a story.

While living in Chicago, her pastimes included taking her grandchildren on day trips throughout the city, enjoying boxed wine and cigars on her patio with friends, traveling through Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and making connections everywhere she went. Once she moved to Arizona, she and her husband crossed the border into Nogales to dance and drink margaritas at local restaurants. Her friends in her later years included some of the local firefighters who would stop by to drop off hamburgers and chat.

Throughout her life, Billie took great pride in her strength and stubbornness. She refused to allow illness to defeat her or deter her from living life. To the surprise of no one who knew her, Billie chose to shuffle off this mortal coil in her own time. Her daughters, sons-in-law, and grandson were on hand for the final steps of her journey.

Billie will be remembered by all who have been in her company.

Public services will be announced at a later date. The family asks anyone wishing to celebrate Billie’s memory to consider supporting (non-bobcat) animals by donating to The Animal League of Green Valley, where Billie had volunteered for many years. The Animal League of Green Valley, attn: Jane Vazquez, 1600 W. Duval Mine Road, Green Valley, AZ 85614 520-625-3170.

Better than a comments section

Discuss the news on NABUR,
a place to have local conversations

The Neighborhood Alliance for Better Understanding and Respect
A site just for our local community
Focused on facts, not misinformation
Free for everyone

Join the community
What's NABUR?