He received 23,130 of the 77,570 votes cast by the programme's listeners.
His widow, Frances, said she was deeply moved by the award although she believed her husband, a modest man, would have been highly embarrassed.
"One realises the dreadful things are in the minority, that most people were appalled at what has happened," she said on the programme.
"That is very comforting because when one is faced with what we were faced with on that Friday night the world becomes an evil place, but now one can see that it isn't - that it is mostly good."
She said the Government had not gone far enough in its response to the tragedy on 8 December and she called for a forum involving politicians, churchmen and ordinary people to try to re-evaluate where society was going.
It should try to provide a framework of guidance to get away from what her husband called the "obsessive drive for personal possession" and back to spiritual values.
"It is not enough to get rid of knives. That won't get rid of violence. We have really got to attack it on a much more basic level. The time is long overdue."
The award was welcomed by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Basil Hume.
"I am very moved that the personality of the year should be Philip Lawrence," he told the programme. "He was a good husband, a good father, indeed a good man."
Runner-up in the poll, for the second year running, was the Prime Minister, who received 18,260 votes. Assassinated Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was third, the Princess of Wales fourth and the Labour leader, Tony Blair, was fifth.
Harry Greenway,MP for Ealing North, said the Philip Lawrence Memorial Fund now stood at pounds 37,000.
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