Robert Lawton, 90

Robert Lawton, 90

Robert “Bob” Lawton, 90, passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 11th, 2021, surrounded by family, at Concord Hospital-Laconia.

Bob was born on March 2, 1931 in Akron, Ohio, and later moved with his mother Doris and his brother John back to Lowell, MA, where the family was originally from, and lived with their grandparents Dennis A. Long and his wife Mary.

Bob enjoyed visits to Lake Winnipesaukee every summer as a young boy and in his 20s he moved to the area permanently.

Bob attended Norwich University in Vermont, where he majored in chemistry and later joined the army and served in the Chemical Corps stationed in Pusan, South Korea at the end of the war.

Bob later worked for the telephone company, but soon decided that he did not want to pursue a career in chemistry, but wanted to do “something fun.”

In 1952, Bob borrowed $750 from his grandmother and with the help of his brother John, opened the Weirs Sports Center on Lakeside Avenue, an indoor mini-golf above Tarlson’s Arcade.

The Weirs Sports Center was a summer success and in 1964, Bob and John purchased 21 acres on Rte. 3 in the Weirs and expanded their operation and named it Funspot, which they built up over the years and is today, in its 70th year, the largest arcade in the world at 70, 000 square-feet.

Working at Funspot was Bob’s love and passion for the rest of his life and he could usually be found somewhere in the building or at the Funspot maintenance shop working on a new project, fixing up an old one, plowing the parking lot in the winter, mowing the lawns in the summer or, what he considered the “greatest joy of his life,” meeting and greeting customers, many who visited Funspot themselves as children and were now bringing in their own children and grandchildren.

In his later years, Bob would meet and greet customers, old and new, on Saturday afternoons at Funspot’s D.A. Long Tavern. Bob’s pockets were always full of Funspot Gift Cards and tokens that he joyfully gave away to the kids.

Unfortunately, it was because of the COVID shutdown in 2020 that saw Bob, for the first time in 68 years, not at Funspot on a daily basis.

When Bob wasn’t at Funspot, he was pursuing some of the other loves of his life.

Bob had a passion for politics and in the 1960s was elected to the NH House of Representatives and served several terms along with his mother, Doris and later his son David in the 1990s. “Live Free Or Die,” long the state motto of New Hampshire, appears on license plates today as the result of the first bill introduced by Bob in 1969 in the legislature.

With an insatiable love of New Hampshire history, Bob and his son Tim, began the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society in 1985 with artifacts they both had discovered while diving in the big lake. In the early 2000s the Historical Society purchased the Bridges Motel property on Rte. 3 in the Weirs opened its museum, which still flourishes today.

In 1992, Bob began The Weirs Times weekly newspaper which was fashioned after the original Weirs Times, which was published in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Bob always felt he had the newspaper business in his blood as his grandfather, D.A. Long, was the publisher of The Lowell Telegram for years. The focus of the Weirs Times was, and still is, about New Hampshire history, people and politics. Bob could be found, by himself, every Sunday for eight hours or more, in the offices of The Weirs Times cutting and pasting up each page for the next week’s issue, a tedious task he did every week until 2001 when computer programs made the task easier, Bob continued to proofread the paper every week right until the last few months of his life.

Bob’s life was a life well lived, doing the things that gave him the most happiness as well as happiness to countless others. It was also a life of success through hard work, determination and always moving forward. He lived the American Dream, the country he loved so dearly.

Bob was predeceased by his brother and business partner, John Lawton, who passed away in 2003.

Bob is survived by his daughter, Donna Carlucci and husband Ken; daughter Sandra and husband Brad Franklin; son Timothy; and son David and wife Eva Ashton. Also by grandchildren, Starr Lawton, Matt Bernard, Alison Bernard, and Nick Bertholet; as well as great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at the D.A. Long Tavern at Funspot on Wednesday, November 17th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to FUNDs4Paws.org at P.O. Box 5441, Weirs Beach, NH 03247.

(2) entries

Kevinq

Sandra and Tim, my sincere condolences on the passing of your father. He was a fixture at Funspot and a Weirs icon. He certainly had a good life served up a huge helping of fun for all those that have passed through the doors. I'm sure he is remembered fondly by many.

KSorell

As a young person growing up in the Lakes region you couldn't help but know Funspot. What an amazing place to grow up and watch this transformation growing up here in Meredith all my life. As if that wasn't special enough you were made to feel like family whenever you saw Bob. He was like everybody's grandfather .... A big huge smile and a pocketful of gift cards. He always was a very genuine and very kind. I've also been honored to know two of his grandchildren. Matt and Starr. Both of whom are pretty wonderful human beings. Sandra and Brad have always been so kind to me and I'm lucky enough to call them my neighbors. What an incredible life Bob has lived. You cannot help read that obituary and be a little jealous of anyone who lives a life exactly the way they want to. What an inspiration! Thank you Bob and the whole Lawton family for sharing Bob with us in this little snippet of his life but also sharing your grief....we mourn with you. Bob has certainly given us this beautiful legacy of fun and a life lived with joy and I know you will continue that .

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