Annette Long Bills Lawrie

Posted 5/30/23

Mrs. Annette Long Bills Lawrie passed away at the age of 98 on Monday, May 22, 2023, while with her daughter and son-in-law in Slidell, Louisiana. Born in Lewisburg, Tennessee in September 1924, she …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Annette Long Bills Lawrie


Mrs. Annette Long Bills Lawrie passed away at the age of 98 on Monday, May 22, 2023, while with her daughter and son-in-law in Slidell, Louisiana. Born in Lewisburg, Tennessee in September 1924, she was the daughter of Harold Long and Emalene Edith Warwick Bills. Annette was a life-long member of First Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg where she was organist for 60 years until her retirement in July 2015. She served as an Elder on the Session of First Presbyterian Church; and in 2018, the Session recognized her as Organist Emeritus. She met her husband Howard Martin Lawrie in 1950 in Chicago, IL while he was in graduate school at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. During that time, she was accompanying voice students from Northwestern University and the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Howard and Annette married August 5, 1950 at First Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg and were married almost 55 years until his death, January 14, 2005.

Annette is preceded in death by her parents, husband Howard and sister Edith Bills McClelland. She is survived by a daughter, Melinda Lawrie (Jim) Epperson of Slidell, LA; two sons, William Harold (Bill) Lawrie (Mandy Wachtler) of Nashville, TN and Warwick Wilsey (Wicky) Lawrie (Dee Dee Hollis) of Nashville, TN; grandchildren Miles Lawrie of Lewisburg, TN, Alyson Lawrie of Nashville, TN, Jim Epperson, Jr. of South Daytona, Florida, and Andy Epperson of Albuquerque, New Mexico; great-grandchildren Barclay Epperson and Campbell Epperson of South Daytona, FL; nephew Tim McClelland (Margaret Carpenter) of Knoxville, TN, nieces Marion McClelland of Columbus, Ohio and Shai Marshall of Lexington, Kentucky.  She is also survived by a first cousin in North Carolina, great nieces and nephews, and many dear and treasured friends.

As a child and young woman, Annette studied piano and organ for many years with Mrs. Ada Hursh, who was organist at First Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg, TN. She loved walking to the church with her dog “Sparky” to practice; and in her last years as organist, Annette would take her dog “Gabby” with her when she practiced for the coming Sunday. Annette graduated from Marshall County High School in 1943 and attended Maryville College. She graduated from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, IL in June 1948 with a Bachelor of Music degree in organ where she was also a member of Mu Phi Epsilon professional music fraternity. She enjoyed sharing stories of her time in Chicago and being at the conservatory, such as her orchestration class under Leo Sowerby, who was often referred to as the “dean of American church music.” 

During her ten years in Chicago, she attended Fourth Presbyterian Church and was a member of the evening choir. From Chicago, Annette and Howard moved to Jackson, Tennessee where they were organist and Minister of Music at First Presbyterian Church. They moved to Lewisburg, TN in 1955 upon Mrs. Hursh’s retirement as organist. Annette was a member of the Robert Lewis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution as well as other local clubs and organizations.

Annette taught piano and organ to countless children in the Lewisburg area and played for numerous weddings, funerals, MCHS graduations and cantatas, many of which were directed by her husband Howard. In addition to being a church organist and teaching, her love of music was expressed through accompanying choirs, school choruses, community choruses, and soloists. She was well known for her musical ability as well as her involvement and commitment to the Lewisburg and Marshall County communities.

Annette was a much-loved lady in the Lewisburg community. She was the consummate professional yet very modest about her God-given talent and accomplishments. The greatest joys in her life came from being a loving, giving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and aunt. She also loved and found great happiness in the four-legged members of the Lawrie family throughout the years.

Visitation will be held Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Bills-McGaugh & Hamilton Funeral Home (755 Yell Road), and on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church preceding the service. A celebration of her life and music will be held Sunday, June 4th, at 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Lewisburg with The Reverend Robert H. Montgomery officiating. Pallbearers are Jock Floyd, Terry Jackson, Roy Lambert, Bob Phillips, Nick Phillips, and Mike Spence. Burial will follow at Sunset Park.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in her memory to First Presbyterian Church, the Marshall County Humane Society or another pet/animal charity of your choice.


Bills-McGaugh & Hamilton Funeral Home is honored to serve the family. Condolences and memories may be extended online at