Dr Virgil Bryan Lawlis

Dr Virgil Bryan Lawlis

Sylvester, Fisher County, Texas, USA
Death 22 Dec 2014 (aged 89)
Texas, USA
Burial Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 140535164 · View Source
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Dr. Virgil B. Lawlis passed peacefully into the arms of the Lord, December 22, 2014 at age 89.

Virgil was the youngest child of George and Fannie Lawlis, born August 17, 1925 on a cotton farm in Sylvester, Texas, where he grew up with brothers, Frank and Ovid, and sister, Frances. Upon graduating high school at the ripe old age of fifteen, he left home to study animal husbandry at what was then known as McMurry College in Abilene. When World War II broke out, he dutifully and proudly joined the U.S. Navy. Being short on medics and realizing Virgil's great intelligence and attention to detail, the Navy sent him to study medicine at the University of Texas where he serendipitously met his beautiful wife, Marjorie, who was also studying to be a physician. They married straight out of college and together, they bore the trials, tribulations and triumphs that only medical school can provide.

They lost no time in starting their family and were the proud parents of six children, the births of whom span the time from their days in medical school to their days practicing medicine in Austin. Virgil moved his family there in the late fifties to begin what no one could have known would become such an icon in Austin's history. The Austin Diagnostic Clinic, begun all those years ago with just two hardworking physicians, soon grew to house the largest group of Internal Medicine practitioners in the state. He was meticulous in the care of his patients and kind to those with whom he worked. He set a standard for care that his partners, family and friends still comment on to this day. His retirement from his practice in 1990 was a loss for many.

Not one to tarry, Virgil immediately embarked on his second career, raising and breeding Registered Black Angus cattle on his ranch near Bastrop. No doubt using his medical training, he was able to breed some of the finest Black Angus in the country. He won awards for having the highest percentage of his herd registered, at one time owned the number one bull in the country and was a charter member of the Foundation Angus Alliance. He enjoyed more than twenty years working on the ranch and was fortunate to be able to live out his final days on the land he loved so much, surrounded by some of the very cattle he'd help bring into this world.

Virgil was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 63 years, Dr. Marjorie Lawlis, their son, Mark Lawlis and their daughter, Janet Ann Lawlis.

Virgil is survived by his children, Grover Klarfeld (Nate), Bryan Lawlis (Patty), Steve Lawlis (Kim), Diane Lawlis, several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family and friends.

Visitation will be held at Marrs-Jones-Newby Funeral Home in Bastrop, Texas. Funeral services will be at Calvary Episcopal Church in Bastrop.

Coffee, tea and water will be available in the parish hall before the service. A reception in the parish hall will follow after the service concludes.

The family will gather privately and Dr Virgil B Lawlis will be laid to rest next to his loving wife, Marjorie at Forest Park Lawndale in Houston, Texas.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to the Henry Gardiner Scholarship Fund at Kansas State University or to Episcopal Relief and Development.

(Marrs-Jones-Newby Funeral Home)


Virgil Lawlis, a founder of the Austin Diagnostic Clinic, died of natural causes Dec. 22. He was 89.

Friends and relatives said that Lawlis, a former gastroenterologist who treated lawmakers and university officials, never turned away patients because of an inability to pay. During the years of segregation, Lawlis was one of the few in the city who treated African-Americans, said George Lowe, a friend and colleague.

“Virgil was one of the first that I know of that was an egalitarian,” Lowe said. “He took care of all comers. If someone had no insurance or no money, he would see them and not send them a bill.”

Lawlis grew up on a cotton farm in a rural town outside of Abilene and was studying animal husbandry before he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. Friends said he scored so high on a test during the war that the government sent him to study medicine at the University of Texas.

While at UT, he met a fellow medical student, Marjorie Grover, whom he married in 1946.

The Lawlises moved back to Austin, and in 1956 he became the first partner Henry Renfert took on at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic.

Friends said Lawlis continued to make house calls and phoned patients with lab results long after such practices went out of style. He taught other physicians to assuage patients’ anxieties and never to fault them for their frailties.

“Patients called him Dr. Virgil. When you can be called doctor by your first name that’s something special,” said friend and former colleague Charles Felger.

Among his most notable patients were former UT football coach Darrell Royal and former UT President Stephen Spurr.

Austin Diagnostic Clinic was one of the first in the city to offer specialty care. Lawlis and fellow founding doctors took an extra year of training to pass their specialty board exams. Former colleagues lauded Lawlis for introducing the latest technology in gastroenterology.

Now, the clinic is a group of more than 120 doctors and providers, offering primary care and 22 specialties.

After retiring from medicine in 1990, Lawlis devoted his time to raising certified black Angus cattle. He sold off his ranch in Elroy to buy 400 acres in Bastrop on the Colorado River. There he experimented with artificial insemination and embryo transplantation to improve his livestock. He traveled to Kansas to learn from cattle ranchers there, worked on cattle auctions for the Luling Foundation and read up on the latest ways to grow the best grass for feed.

He would meet friends at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa across the river from his ranch to offer advice on raising cattle as he noshed on his favorite Angus burger.

“He was a Renaissance man. There was nothing that didn’t interest him,” Felger said.

Lawlis’ son Stephen, a physician in Georgetown, said he passed on “his honesty, his integrity, his commitment to family and his patients and his wife” to his six children.

Marjorie Grover Lawlis died in 2009; Virgil Lawlis is survived by his children Grover Klarfeld and Bryan, Stephen and Diane Lawlis and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be at Marrs-Jones-Newby Funeral Home, 505 Old Austin Highway in Bastrop.

Funeral services will be at Calvary Episcopal Church, 603 Spring St. in Bastrop.

Submitted by LadyFox.

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  • Created by: Buen Retiro
  • Added: 27 Dec 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 140535164
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Virgil Bryan Lawlis (17 Aug 1925–22 Dec 2014), Find a Grave Memorial no. 140535164, citing Forest Park Cemetery, Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Buen Retiro (contributor 47800467) .