Laurine Schneider Speltz

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Growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, Laurine Schneider Speltz carved out a place for herself in the then-male-dominated medical profession, but subsequently found another calling that drew even more deeply on her formidable energy, vision and intelligence as the wife of a sole veterinary practitioner, and the mother of eight children.

Laurine was born on Nov. 11, 1921, in Minneapolis and died at the age of 91 on Oct. 24 at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester. The fourth daughter of Clara Seiverling Schneider and John Peter Schneider, one of the founders of the Nicollet Clinic in Minneapolis, now the Park Nicollet Clinic, she was raised with seven siblings, all deceased except for her sisters, Mary Schneider Reese and Barbara Schneider Carney.

As a teenager, Laurine decided to study to become a medical technologist, at the time a brand-new profession for women. After earning her Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, from the University of Minnesota, Laurine ran the blood banks at Minneapolis General Hospital, now Hennepin County Medical Center, and at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She also worked for the University of Chicago in 1944-45 to help develop a blood test for radiation sickness. Only later did she learn that this research was being conducted in conjunction with the development of the atomic bomb, that is, as part of the Manhattan Project.

Her marriage to Dr. Jerome Conrad Speltz in 1947 was the beginning of a challenging new life and a partnership that lasted 65 years, until his death on Oct. 26, 2012. Together Laurine and Jerome decided that Jerome would establish a mixed veterinary practice, for both large and small animals, in Winona. Laurine's organizational skills and financial acumen were fundamental to the success of the practice: While running a busy household with eight children, she managed all of the accounting and customer-service aspects of the business with superb efficiency.

With their joint savings Laurine and Jerome purchased three contiguous buildings near the foot of Center Street in 1956, one of which housed the Speltz Animal Hospital. With Laurine overseeing construction jobs, they restored these historic structures in the mid-1970s and early '80s, creating several commercial spaces and apartments.

Proceeds from the sale of the buildings were given to Iowa State University to establish the Jerome and Laurine Speltz Scholarship for second-year veterinary students. Laurine and Jerome also were instrumental in the restoration of Holy Trinity Church in Rollingstone in the 1990s.

All of these accomplishments, impressive as they are, only go part way in explaining why others, once they got past her initial shyness, were drawn to Laurine. Perhaps it was the creativity and resourcefulness — the sheer energy — that informed all of her activities. She relished solving problems, and this, in combination with a sincere interest in others, her solid common sense grounded in a firm grasp of reality, and her wicked sense of humor made her both a good conversationalist and a reliable source of guidance and comfort. Her love of beauty and order, manifested in countless ordinary ways — her decoupaged art prints; the clothes she sewed for her daughters; her many home improvement projects, from spring cleaning to refinishing  woodwork, made life richer.

It is these qualities and values that Laurine passed on to her children, chiefly by example, and that contributed to her children's success in their own chosen field of work — whether that of engineering, education, the law, science, business or technology. She was a true example of selfless love and found no greater pleasure than seeing her children thrive.

Survivors include daughters, Laurine M. Speltz (Denis Ryono), Ann Speltz (Stephen Fedo) and Paula Roe (Roger Roe); sons, Jerome J. Speltz (Lisa Winkelmann Speltz), Louis Speltz (Vicki Bailey), Joseph Speltz (Deann Gehlhaart Speltz), John Speltz (Ellen Fuchsel Speltz) and Michael Speltz; grandchildren, Elena Roe Sparling (Kenneth Sparling), Madeline Roe, Elizabeth Speltz, Amelia Fedo, Sydney Speltz, Tanner Speltz, Katherine Speltz, Jonathan Speltz and Nathan Speltz; and great-grandchild, Everett Sparling.

Funeral services will be Tuesday at Holy Trinity Church in Rollingstone, with viewing at 11 a.m. and a funeral mass at noon. Memorial donations may be made to Holy Trinity Church (83 Main St., Rollingstone, 55969) or the Winona YMCA.

Please share a memory of Laurine at her online guest book at Hoff Celebration of Life Center in Goodview is assisting the family with arrangements.

Published in The Post-Bulletin on Oct. 26, 2013
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