Rosemead Kiwanis Club

   "Serving the Community Since 1945"






The Fax of Life

A weekly inspiration, courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of Scott's Valley

July 13, 1997                                                                               Vol. 2,   No. 35


Changed Lives


In 1921, Lewis Lawes became the warden at Sing Sing prison. No prison was

tougher than Sing Sing during that time. But when Warden Lawes retired some

20 years later, the prison had become a humanitarian institution. Those who

studied the system said credit for the change belonged to Lawes. But when

asked about the transformation, here's what he said: " I owe it all to my

wonderful wife, Catherine, who is buried outside the prison walls."


Catherine Lawes was a young mother with three small children when her husband became the warden. Everybody warned her from the beginning that she should never set foot inside the prison walls, but that didn't stop Catherine!


When the first prison basketball game was held, she went ... walking into the gym with her three beautiful kids and she sat in the stands with the inmates.

Her attitude was: "My husband and I are going to take care of these men and I

believe they will take care of me! I don t have to worry!"


She insisted on getting acquainted with them and their records. she

discovered one convicted murderer was blind so she paid him a visit. Holding

his hand in hers she said. "Do you read Braille?"


"What's Braille?" he asked. Then she taught him how to read. Years later he

would weep in love for her.


Later, Catherine found a deaf-mute in prison. she went to school to learn how

to use sign language. Many said that Catherine Lawes was the body of Jesus

that came alive again in Sing Sing from 1921 to 1937.


Then, she was killed in a car accident. The next morning Lewis Lawes didn't

come to work, so the acting warden took his place. It seemed almost instantly

that the prison knew something was wrong.


The following day, her body was resting in a casket in her home, three-quarters of a mile from the prison. As the acting warden took his morning walk, he was shocked to see a large crowd of the toughest, hardest-looking criminals gathered like a herd of animals at the main gate. He came closer and noted tears of grief and sadness. He knew how much they loved Catherine. He turned and faced the men, "All right men, you can go. Just be sure to check in tonight!"


Then he opened the gate and a parade of criminals walked, without a guard, the three-quarters of a mile to stand in line to pay their final respects to Catherine Lawes. And every one of them checked back in. Every one!


                                                                                ---  Tim Kimmel


Did this really happen?  No less than the Christian Science Monitor affirms that it did - , although it should be noted that (according to Snopes) the Warden's home was still on Sing Sing property - just not with as great a level of security as the cellblocks.


Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time. All of its Clubs are independently-run community service groups.