Margaret Lawrence's passing was not going to go unnoticed. During the last moments of her life at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center on June 22, a sudden cold front pushed through a stifling curtain of heat that had draped across the Treasure Valley. Within a few hours, a wave of thunder shook the Boise Foothills and lightning ripped the sky. Many of Lawrence's friends who had not received official word of her passing said they knew--or at least sensed--that Margaret was gone when the storm erupted. In fact, some acquaintances said they were unaware of the severity of Lawrence's hospitalization, but suspected that she had few days remaining after the Hollywood Market on Eighth Street was unexpectedly closed just six weeks prior.
What happened between May 9, when the iconic Boise North End market was shuttered, and June 22 remains unknown to many. Dozens of North Enders told BW that they were told Lawrence had become ill. Some guessed that she hurt herself in an accident, and most said that her age, 95, had finally taken its toll. But individuals who said they knew Lawrence best said up until May 9, she was still operating the market, seven days a week, much like she had for decades.
Eccentric? Yes. Colorful? Absolutely. But incompetent?
"She was sharp as a tack," said John Weber, who knew Lawrence for more than 50 years.
"She hadn't lost her mind," said Allen Derr, veteran Boise attorney who counted Lawrence as a former client and close friend.
Each person BW spoke with conceded that Lawrence struggled with mobility and had difficulty making change at the store; however, Derr, Weber and many more close friends of Margaret said her mental capacity was no less than it had been years before.
But in court documents obtained by BW, petitioner Reed Hansen claimed that Lawrence "suffered from mental confusion," "an inability to appreciate her mental circumstances" and could not "effectively communicate to others her mental or physical needs." In the two-and-a-half page petition, Lawrence was labeled "incapacitated" no fewer than 12 times. "An emergency exists," read the petition. "No other person appears to have authority and willingness to act in the circumstances."
The petition was accepted on April 25 by Idaho Magistrate Christopher Bieter (brother of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter) and a temporary guardian was appointed to oversee Lawrence's personal and professional affairs. The order was to remain temporary until a public hearing on July 19, but after Lawrence's death, the hearing was canceled.
The court order set in motion a series of events that led to the closure of the Hollywood Market on May 9, followed by Lawrence's admission to an assisted living facility and two trips to a psychiatric hospital before being transferred to St. Luke's, where she died.
Reed Hansen is the owner and president of Impact Directories, publishers of white- and yellow-page phone books throughout the Treasure Valley, as well as communities in Washington. Hansen is also a member and faith-leader in the Warm Springs Avenue Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I was a bishop of a ward that Danny was in," Hansen said, describing the relationship with Margaret Lawrence's son, Daniel. "I go back farther with Danny than with Margaret."
Danny, 62, has cerebral palsy.
"He has mobility problems," said Hansen. "But I think he's capable of handling his own affairs to some degree."
Danny walks with short, shuffling half-steps and almost always has a smile. He spends his time visiting with friends at the LDS chapel or at the Hollywood Market. In fact, Danny made sure to attend a candlelight vigil outside the store on June 25, where he swapped remembrances with many of his mother's former customers and friends.
"Margaret took very good care of Danny over the years," said Hansen. "But maybe she was too careful in protecting him. She was pretty controlling. She kind of managed his life to the point where he didn't get too much of a chance to really blossom."
Hansen said that eight years ago, Margaret asked him to serve as an adviser to Danny after she passed away.
"I sat in on all of their financial meetings," said Hansen. "She accumulated a fair amount of resources so that Danny would have money when she was gone."
While Margaret and Danny lived simply, her estate is considerable. Everyone BW spoke to said Margaret owned a minimum of nine and as many as 11 properties in addition to the Hollywood Market. Most of the properties were rental homes, including at least one duplex and one triplex in Boise. Additionally, Margaret was well-known for her thrift.
"She probably saved 80 cents of every dollar she made," said Jason Haroian, who said Margaret was probably his best friend.
"I can tell you that back in the 1990s, Margaret negotiated a $1.3 million deal," said Weber. "She sold 360 acres of prime farmland out in Kuna to an investor. She wanted cash and she got it."