Good-bye Larry ‘Whitey’ Hauxwell: Colorful character kept the Leader’s press running for 56 years

Hauxwell operating the old sheet-fed press used by Leader until the 1960s. He began working for the company in 1956.
Hauxwell operating the old sheet-fed press used by Leader until the 1960s. He began working for the company in 1956.

It’s hard to imagine the Oxford Leader without Lawrence “Whitey” Hauxwell.

For nearly six decades, the 1957 Oxford High School graduate operated the press and was as much a local institution as the newspaper he printed.

On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, Hauxwell passed away at his home in Oxford. He was 77.

As a high school student, Hauxwell began working part-time for the Leader on April 16, 1956.

With the exception of a brief period when he got the itch to move to California, Hauxwell spent his life working here and we’re awful glad he did.

He started as a printer’s devil (an apprentice) and soon became the one and only pressman, making himself indispensable to two generations of the Sherman family, owner of the Leader since 1955.

“There’s not enough that I can say about him,” said James A. Sherman, Sr., publisher of the Leader from 1955-93. “We succeeded greatly due to his work ethic and attention to detail.”

Nobody knew the press like Hauxwell. He was as much a part of it as it was of him. Whatever needed to be fixed, adjusted or tinkered with, he had the magic touch to keep this relic of the 1960s and 70s humming along.

One had to marvel at Hauxwell’s speed, energy and precision as he whirled around the five-unit Goss Community press, ensuring everything ran smoothly and the finished product was something to be proud of.

Hauxwell truly had printer’s ink running through his veins – and that’s probably because he was usually covered in the stuff, from head to toe. Sometimes you wondered if any ink had actually made it onto the pages.

For years, Hauxwell came and went as he pleased. He wasn’t tethered to a time clock. He didn’t need to be. He was the epitome of dependable. He always got the job done and did things the right way – his way.

Sherman said Hauxwell was a “wonder” as a worker.

“He came to work running. He never stopped except to look around and see what else he could do,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better employee. He was always there.”

Hauxwell kept printing this paper, along with the Lake Orion Review, Clarkston News, Ad-Vertiser and Penny Stretcher, until his health prevented him from doing so. The last edition under his supervision rolled off the press on Aug. 29, 2012.

After that, printing was outsourced and things were never quite the same around the old plant.


Something was definitely missing on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The air was no longer filled with the sounds of the press and Hauxwell’s distinctive voice echoing through the building.

It’s been just a little too quiet since then and now, Hauxwell’s passing has made it quieter still.

Even though he no longer printed papers on the big press, Hauxwell continued on at Sherman Publications by doing some smaller print jobs. In April, he celebrated 60 years with the company.

Although the paper itself was black-and-white (with a smattering of red) during his long career, Hauxwell himself was a most colorful character.

He could be a bit cantankerous and somewhat gruff at times, but always in a lovable way like the curmudgeon with a heart of gold that Hollywood’s so fond of portraying.

He was not at all shy about expressing his opinions and you always knew exactly where you stood with him because he told you.

In an April 2006 tribute to Hauxwell on his 50th anniversary with the company, Sherman summed up the essence of the pressman’s character by describing him as “honest and faithful; fun-loving and true; good-hearted and outspoken; generous and forgiving; and devoted to his job and his paycheck writers.”

It’s no secret Hauxwell loved a cold beer and could often be found enjoying some suds while perched atop a bar stool at Oxford American Legion Post 108. A generous guy, he always insisted on buying rounds and actually got mad if you reached for your wallet.

During his life, Hauxwell enjoyed a number of hobbies, ranging from the typical manly pursuits, such as fishing and hunting, to more unique ones, such as collecting snakes and smoking meats.

He was a member of the Orion/Oxford Eagles and a good friend of Post 108.

Hauxwell was preceded in death by his younger brother William “Billy” Hauxwell and his parents, Paul and Alona.

He is survived by his wife Brenda. Although married for only six months, they were together for 21 years.

Hauxwell is also survived by his daughter Sheri (Randy) Greenwood; grandchildren Kristi (Justin), Kody and Kolton (Sarah); great-grandchildren Hunter, Lilli and Drake; and siblings Max Hauxwell, Jackie (Richard) Book and Gayle (Bruce) Thomas.

Family and friends will gather at Oxford American Legion Post 108 (130 E. Drahner Rd.) to share their memories of Hauxwell and celebrate his life on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 12-5 p.m. There will be opportunities to speak between 12 and 1:30 p.m. followed by a meal at 2 p.m., according to Brenda.

Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home in Lake Orion is handling the arrangements. Reflections may be shared online by visiting


2 responses to “Good-bye Larry ‘Whitey’ Hauxwell: Colorful character kept the Leader’s press running for 56 years”

  1. Whitey worked with my Dad from 1956 until 1978. To say they were co-workers at the leader does not come close to explain their relationship. I know Whitey looked up to my Dad but I believe my Dad would do anything in the world for Whitey. He was unquestionably a super worker but if he was your friend you had a world class man at your side. RIP sir, you certainly deserve it.

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