A grandson of one of the city's first physicians, Dr. David Henry Lawrence, Theodore Merchant "Buddy" Lawrence was born in Corpus Christi. He left home at an early age and found employment on the King Ranch, where he participated in cattle drives. He later worked as a professional hunter.
In 1880 Lawrence married Cora Eugenia Garrett. They became the parents of six children. Lawrence began farming in the 1880s and in the following decade became interested in vegetable truck farming. This was the site of his home and vegetable farm. He is credited with being the first to ship vegetables from Corpus Christi in 1894. As a partner in the Roark Produce Company, he helped build the truck farming industry in the area.
In 1902 Lawrence was appointed County Commissioner for Precinct One, which included Corpus Christi. He served until 1908 and was elected to the position in 1910, serving continuously until 1932. During his years as a Commissioner, county road systems were modernized and the first causeway over Nueces Bay was constructed. In tribute for his contributions, the County Commissioners Court changed the name of Chemical Plant Road to Buddy Lawrence Drive in 1933.