Christopher Leo Lawless
PVT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co B
Born 1917 in CT, Died 2007
County of residence at enlistment: Fairfield County, CT
Other residence(s): Bridgeport, CT; German Flatts, NY; Trumbull, CT
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: commercial artists
College education after the war: Académie Fernand Léger (Paris)
Chris Lawless was born on June 11, 1917 in Bridgeport, CT, the oldest of five children. His father was a clerk at the Remington Arms munitions factory in Bridgeport.
By 1930 the family was living in German Flatts in central New York state, and Chris' father (also Chris) was secretary at a cash register plant in Ilion, NY. It was likely the Remington Cash Register Company, a subsidiary of Remington Arms.
Young Chris graduated from Ilion High School in 1934. Not too long after that the family moved back to Connecticut, where Chris Sr. took a job as an investigator/social worker for the welfare office in the city of Bridgeport. Chris Jr. had first worked as an assembler at GE, but by 1940 had gotten a job as a commercial artist/sign painter. When he registered for the draft, on October 16, 1940, he was working as a poster designer for Murphy, Inc. an outdoor advertising firm.
In April, 1941, Chris Sr. was the victim of a homicide. He had been reported missing by his family on April 4, his car was found abandoned in NY on April 7, and his body found by teenagers on the banks of the Housatonic River on April 15 with signs indicating his skull had been fractured with a hammer. His briefcase, containing his welfare reports, and his wallet were both missing. Five years later, a Hartford Courant article described his murder, and noted that it remained unsolved.
It must have been a blow for the family when both Chris and his brother, two years younger, enlisted, leaving their mother alone to manage a household with three teenage children. Chris enlisted on November 7, 1942 and was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion. He saw service in Europe with the unit during the war.
In 1950, likely through the GI Bill, he had the opportunity to study modern painting for a year or two at the Académie Fernand Léger in Paris. His mother had died in June, 1950, and perhaps that provided the impetus to pursue the dream of his youth; he left for Europe two months later. Fellow Ghost Army veteran Albert Landry was at the Académie at the same time.
After he returned, he took up his art career with gusto. He had his own studio in Connecticut for a few years, and also worked as art director at Moore & Co. in Greenwich. In 1957, he took a position as VP and art director at Ormsbee Associates, an advertising agency in Milford.
In 1961 he married Bessie Eliopoulous and they took up residence in Trumbull, CT.
In 1963, Chris left Ormsbee and opened his own commercial art studio in Bridgeport; a business he ran successfully until his retirement in 1981. His obituary reports that "he loved jazz music, golf, travel, and the beauty of nature, always taking the scenic route. He was a generous soul who accepted everyone and saw good in everything."
He died on February 16, 2007 at the age of 89, and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Bridgeport, CT.
1940 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1946 article in the Hartford Courant (CT) re the unsolved murder of his father
1950 shipboard manifest; NY to Antwerp, going to France for "indefinite" period
1951 shipboard manifest, LeHavre to Montreal
1961 marriage record
1961 article in the Bridgeport Post (CT) re his marriage
1963 article about his career
2007 Find a Grave record
2007 obituary in Connecticut Post (Bridgeport CT)