In Memory of Robert Christopher Lawing


It is with a profound sense of loss and great sadness we announce the passing of Bechtler's former Executive Vice President, Christopher Lawing.

Charlotte – Robert Christopher Lawing, 48, died surrounded by family on June 2, 2020 after a valiant ten-year fight with cancer.

It has been said that the measure of a man is the worth of the things he cares about, and Christopher cared very deeply for the arts. After an early education at Wayne Country Day School, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice and Opera from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration, and a Master of Music in Conducting from Winthrop University.

Christopher shared his love of the arts through a lifetime of mentorship and philanthropy. Shortly after high school, he worked with StageStruck: The Young People’s Own Theater in Goldsboro and sang in the choir for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

He gave North Carolina youth educational opportunities and instruction in music, art and drama by creating the Gaston School of the Arts Playhouse in Gastonia. He produced, coordinated, and directed several plays – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Annie were two of the most memorable.

Christopher settled in Charlotte where he met his devoted husband, Matthew Robbins.

There, he continued his dedication to community leaving a profound mark with outreach initiatives serving as the School Programs Manager for NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Education and Outreach Associate at McColl Center for Art + Innovation and longtime Music Director for Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church.

Christopher played an integral part in building the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. He instituted numerous programs like Jazz at the Bechtler; Low to No Vision, a program for the blind; the Jail Arts Initiative, a hands-on art making course supported by the Mecklenberg Sheriff’s Department; InReach, for adults with developmental struggles; Modernism + Film, an architecture and design documentary series; Music and Museum, a chamber music series; and Museum Memories, for adults with early onset dementia. His work was recognized with the North Carolina Art Education Association Museum Educator of the Year award in 2011.

Throughout his professional endeavors, he remained an inspiration to those around him. Acclaimed saxophonist and friend Ziad Rabie wrote, “My heart is speaking to let you know that my legacy as a jazz musician will always be intertwined with our friendship and your belief in me. You gave me the platform and the guidance to succeed and thrive.”

He was preceded in death by his father, Robert “Heavy” Lawing.

He is survived by his loving mother, Nell Simpson Lawing, his husband, Matthew Robbins both of Charlotte. His brother Tom Lawing and sister-in-law Jackie Lawing of Waxhaw, his sister Cathy Henderson of Denver, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, cousins, and extended family and friends.

Love and heartfelt gratitude go to the caregivers at Hospice & Palliative Care, Charlotte Region, the Levine Cancer Institute, Charlotte especially Dr. Asim Amin and his staff, who headed the immunotherapy clinical trial which extended Christopher’s life an additional nine years.

Christopher was eternally grateful, he signed off his last note with, “God bless all the warriors and caregivers and all my family and friends whose continued well wishes and prayers help me maintain the fight!”

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Christopher Lawing to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, 420 South Tryon, Charlotte, NC 28202. A celebration of life service at Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church to be determined.

Thank you for helping the Bechtler honor the legacy of Christopher Lawing.


ex © 2020 Bechtler Museum of Modern Art All images and content copyright. All rights reserved. Credits: Design: MODE. Artwork Photography: JoAnn Sieburg-Baker, David Ramsey General Photography: Eric Bahrs, Mitchell Kearney, Gary O'Brien, Nancy Pierce, Maxim Vakhovskiy Copywriting: Pam Davis Charlotte Skyline Photo: courtesy of Visit Charlotte School of Paris: John Boyer (Copy), MODE (Design)
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