James H. McLawhorn

July 29, 1950 - May 16, 2010

07/29/1950 - 05/16/2010

Past Services

Sunday May 23, 2010
7:00 am - 8:30 pm

Monday May 24, 2010
11:00 am

Additional Information:

The Rev. Richard Wynn will be officiating the service.

Wednesday May 26, 2010
11:00 am

Mr. James ‘Jimmy’ H. McLawhorn age 59, died on Sunday, May 16, 2010. Jimmy was a native of Bertie County and graduated from Bertie High School and also graduated from Wake Technical College. He was the son of the late Martha Smith McLawhorn and Henry M. McLawhorn. He was a member of the St. John’s Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jimmy was also a mason.

Survivors include four sisters; Retta Doggett and her husband Gene of Washington, North Carolina, Ada Brinkley and her husband Linwood of Roxobel, North Carolina, Dottie McGregory and her husband Damon of Olympia, Washington and Virginia Sue Dawson and her husband Wayne of White’s Cross, North Carolina, two brothers; Rev. Willie McLawhorn and his wife Diane of Conway, North Carolina and Richard McLawhorn of Oakwood, Georgia. Also surviving are fourteen nieces and nephews along with four grand nephews.

Notify of
14 Condolences
Inline Feedbacks
View all condolences
13 years ago

Enjoy this video of Jim zooming along on Fayetteville Street Mall with Abby in the lead.

Video by NANS222



13 years ago

May 26, 2010

A voice for the needy goes silent

BY JOSH SHAFFER – Staff Writer

Most every day, Jim McLawhorn would speed up to you in his motorized wheelchair, frail as a man made of paper and toothpicks, and croak out a story of outrage with air he took straight from an oxygen tank. And all during his harangues about blocked wheelchair ramps and sidewalks with no curb cuts, you couldn’t help but notice the Yorkshire terrier perched in his lap, rising periodically to lick his face.

For at least a decade, McLawhorn was as much a fixture on downtown streets as the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh. Racing up to you in his baseball cap, tubes in his nostrils, white beard grown to his chest, he looked like a messenger of doom accompanied by an adorable, 3-pound pooch.

If he thought you could help, or that you were responsible, he would list the thousand indignities sickly human beings endure in their last days. He’d pull folded documents out of his pockets to show what a raw deal you get with disability, or public housing. He’d point out the buildings where he’d been shooed away for bringing Abby inside, and tell stories of bus drivers who rolled past his stop rather than pick up an old man and his dog.

Now that he’s gone, and gone gently, downtown Raleigh’s needy will have to rant in meeker voice.

“Jim could be a thorn in your side if he wanted to be,” said his brother Willie, a pastor in Northampton County. “I’m sure the folks in City Hall knew that. He would kind of ride around in his wheelchair and look for places that weren’t up to code. We’re proud of what he did.”

McLawhorn died at 59 last week, apparently in his sleep. His family took him back to Roxobel, the small town near Ahoskie where he grew up, second in a family of seven, working tobacco fields, playing baseball and fighting with his older brother.

Alone with his dog

He never married, never had children. A massive heart attack struck in his mid-30s, and he hadn’t worked much since. For a long time, he lived at the Sir Walter Apartments with Abby, who kept him calm. He developed such a fondness for his tiny friend that he started a Web site in her honor.

“We – and when I say ‘we,’ I mean me and Abby – thought about it, and I decided I wanted to show people that she’s special,” he told The News & Observer in 2001. “And I wanted to show that I love her. She’s my wife, she’s my baby, she’s my girlfriend.”

The wider world first met McLaw horn one year later, when he successfully lobbied City Hall to change a decades-old law banning dogs on Fayetteville Street Mall – an ordinance aimed at keeping the pavement pristine, even after 5 p.m., when it was empty.

Even after the change, he kept a copy of the new law in his pocket and waved it at police officers who stopped him.

McLawhorn wasn’t a fan of downtown festivals, which meant trucks and tents in his path: “Once we get out of Sir Walter, we can’t go nowhere,” he told The N&O.

Or of the new convention center, which caused the old building to get blown up just outside his window: “There are a lot of people in the Sir Walter with breathing problems,” he told a television reporter. “I’m one of them.”

He could be a hard man to know. He pestered bureaucrats. He called reporters until they wore down and publicized his protests. But McLaw horn knew he’d be too easy to ignore if he didn’t badger, persistent as a bill collector, spurred on by a tiny, fur-covered ally.

Nan Snyder
13 years ago

Jim and Abby visited often with me and my cat Mitzi. Abby and Mitzi would play hide and seek and race and chase around the rooms over and under furniture and in general entertain themselves and us at the same time. Often Jim and Abby would come to Sunday dinner and then we would walk to City Market and have ice cream for dessert. He always shared his with Abby too. We had many walks together around downtown Raleighm Jim and Abby were popular with so many we met along the way. We will all miss those meetings.

Lyn Buck
13 years ago

I met Jim on Fayetteville Street Mall many years ago. Abby was just a pup and immediately drew my attention. I am sure that little girl made Jim many a friend. Jim and I began to develop a friendship that day.

I looked forward to my lunch breaks and the opportunity to see and talk with both Jim and Abby. They made my day much happier. I did not say more healthy. Those hot dogs and milk shakes we shared surely took a toll on both of us.

As our friendship developed Jim enrolled Abby in one of my dog obedience classes. We were learning how to walk on a loose leash. Jim gave me a funny story I still use today when I am teaching. Every time Jim’s big foot would move Abby would run to the end of the leash. When Jim’s foot stopped moving she would hug his leg. She must have felt like I would feel if the “Jolly Green Giant” was walking next to me. There was never a truer love than the two of them shared. I am blessed to have the little dog in my care and thank Jim from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to ensure her health and happiness.

David Jones (Turner)
13 years ago

Mac lawhorn Family, I met Jim when her was trying to find him the most perfect lil Yorky to brighten his life. He and I talked many times before her got me convienced to let him have my lil Abby. Well from then on we were great friends . Jim would stop by for me to see Abby when he was going to visit family. He was a good guy and i thought a lot of him. We became friends because of a lil girl named Abby. He never changed her name and he loved her like I did. God Bless and keep you all during this loss and all your days to come. If Ada Brinkley reads this I am David from Weldon NC Kathy B Turner’s step son. Sincerely and God Bless

jim fox
10 years ago

just found out

jim will be missed greatly


Michael Carmichael
13 years ago

Jim was an old and dear friend. We worked together in a great political campaign. Jim loved people, and he had many friends. We had a vigorous email correspondence, and I last saw him about six weeks before he passed away and went beyond the golden horizon. We have lost a great friend, and I will always remember him fondly.

Ada Brinkley
13 years ago

Our family has suffered a great loss. We will miss him.

Damon McGregory
13 years ago

Information found here helped me find out more about my Brother In-Law.


Sonia Anderson
13 years ago

On behalf of the staff and residents we send our heart felt condolences. Both Jim and Abby girl will be missed.