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Lorraine Marie Sipos

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Lorraine Marie Sipos Obituary
Lorraine Marie Sipos (1919-2014) Laurie Sipos, 94, of Greenbrae, passed away peacefully on June 8, 2014 at home with her family beside her. Prior to moving to Greenbrae in 2007 to be closer to her children, she lived in El Cerrito for 57 years. Laurie was born in Virginia, Minnesota to Wallace Bright Westcott and Caroline Olive Westcott (Benson). She was their "million-dollar sunshine baby" with her red hair and a forever sunny disposition that touched those around her until her last day. After the death of her beloved father, when she was 8, the family moved to San Francisco where, inspired by her older brother Al who traveled in Asia, and city adventures with her adored stepfather, Charles Oczko, she developed a lifelong passion for Asian art, history and culture. She was also a US history buff, having descended from the Westcott family who arrived in Massachusetts in 1636. Laurie attended Mission High School and the University of California Berkeley where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in History. During college she met Frank Sipos, a Chemical Engineering student. Their first date was the Cal-Stanford "big game", an event they celebrated throughout their 55 year marriage. They married just before WWII broke out. Frank was commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Army and served for the duration of the war. After returning to the Bay Area after the war, Frank worked as a chemical engineer for Chevron Research and continued in the Army Reserves where he achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel. Laurie delighted in being a mom to her two children and actively volunteered in the community, PTA, Camp Fire Girls and cub scouts. She was a Sunday school teacher at Mira Vista Congregational Church, Herrick Hospital volunteer and a longtime volunteer with the Children's Home Society. She loved the art of Japanese flower arranging. There were always Ikebana arrangements in her home and she lovingly created them for friends and special events. She and Frank loved playing bridge and participated for over 25 years with their lifelong friends. Tragically, in 1976, their 29 year old son Michael (BS Chemical Engineering UC Berkeley 1967, MBA Harvard 1969) who was living and working in Westport, CT, suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident and lay comatose for 4 months. A year later, while Frank continued working in California, Laurie moved alone to New York City where their son was accepted as one of the first patients in a new brain injury program, headed by the renowned Dr. Yehuda Ben-Yishay, at New York University Medical Center's Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. During the two year program, Michael learned to walk, speak, write and regain social skills. Unwavering in their determination that their son reach his fullest potential and live independently, rehabilitation continued for many years with the late Dr. Sheldon Berrol, head of Rehabilitation Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, Dr. Michael Shore, neuropsychologist, and the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley. Laurie was gracious, courageous, generous and loving. She was very loved and will be missed by her son, Michael Sipos of San Rafael, daughter, Peg Sipos of Larkspur, daughter-in-law Melita Figueroa of Larkspur, and her devoted caregivers for many years, Lucy Albano, Grace Veloso and Angela Washington. Laurie also leaves behind her other "sons", Mike's loyal and lifelong friends, who bolstered her spirit in NYC and for 36 more years, despite their own life's challenges: Tom Glassberg of Jackson Hole, WY, Greg Nelson of Wilsonville, OR, Fred Kanter of Mountain Lakes, NJ and Ira Krauss of New Providence, NJ. She is also survived by her nephews and their families. A memorial service is being planned for family and friends in August.
Published in Marin Independent Journal from June 29 to July 1, 2014
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