Neil Lawton

Born in Hampton, IA
Born on May 5, 1953
Departed on Dec 1, 2022

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Neil Edward Lawton was born on May 5, 1953 in Hampton, IA, the third son of Maurice and Margaret Lawton. He passed away from cancer on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at the Oldorf Hospice House in Hiawatha, with his loving wife by his side.

He was raised in Ackley and graduated from Ackley-Geneva High School in May of 1971. Throughout high school he was active in extracurriculars, playing baseball, football, and basketball, running track, performing in plays and speech competitions, and participating in vocal and instrumental music. 

Following high school, Neil attended the University of South Alabama, Ellsworth Community College, in Iowa Falls, and Wayne State College. He received his master’s degree in history from the University of Northern Iowa in 1984. His time at Ellsworth was especially meaningful. It was there that he met the love of his life and best friend, Denise Lenhart. Neil and Denise met while performing as husband and wife in a college theatre production, then were actually married in 1976. They spent nearly all of their married life living in Inwood, IA. 

Neil and Denise’s forty-six years of marriage produced countless memories of their life together as well as two amazing children, Blair and Keely. They were also blessed with two wonderful-daughters-in-law, Becky and Marissa, and three almost perfect grandchildren, Grace, Eleanor, and Alaric

Aside from his family and friends (four-footed and human), the things most important to Neil were the forty-two years he spent teaching history and sociology and coaching at West Lyon High School. He often stated that some of the best people he ever met were among the students, parents, and staff at West Lyon. Following retirement, Neil and Denise moved to Cedar Rapids, IA in the summer of 2022.

Neil was a lifelong fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the New York Yankees, and was an avid reader and collector of books. He is survived by his wife, Denise, one brother, Terry, one sister, Beth, two children Blair (Becky) of Anamosa, Keely (Marissa) Bismarck, ND, and three grandchildren. He is also survived by his beloved cats, Big Boy (Neil’s best friend ever-except for Denise) and Baby, who have lived with Neil and Denise for the past fourteen years. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, James, and a sister, Gayle.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, December 11, 2022 at 1 PM at the West Lyon High School Gymnasium with a visitation starting at 11 AM. A livestream will be available at

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to the West Lyon High School in Inwood, IA.