Laurie Bennett Ellis, 58, of St. Augustine, Fla., died Saturday, March 22, 2014, at a Hospice Care Center, two and a half years after she learned she had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Mrs. Ellis was a school teacher who loved what she did, was proud of her students' successes and grateful that she was able to continue teaching for two school years after her diagnosis. She taught for eight years in Florida. Before moving to Florida, she taught in Kelso, Wash., Sioux Falls, S.D., and Bow, N.H. Mrs. Ellis was featured in an article in The St. Augustine Record on August 4, 2013 that showed her love of teaching and her determination to teach as long as she could. In that article, her class's parent liaison, Kim McGowan, said of her, "Words could never express properly how thankful and lucky we were to have the fortune of having you as our children's teacher. The dedication, love, spirit, encouragement, support and honor you have demonstrated will never be forgotten." Mrs. Ellis was born on Sept. 23, 1955 in Brookline, Mass., to Carol Bennett and the late Irving "Jack" Bennett. She grew up in North Easton, Mass. She graduated magna cum laude from Curry College and earned her master's degree from Tufts University. She served on Gov. Charlie Crist's Reading Initiative Task Force. She is survived by her husband, Peter, of St. Augustine; her son, Jared D'Amico, also of St. Augustine; her mother, of Concord, N.H.; three sisters, Kim Zueli of California City, Calif., Karen Mark of North Easton and Kris LaBrake of Concord; a cousin, Dr. Pam Burke of Reading, Mass.; four nieces; and three nephews. Her husband and son were her principal caregivers. Before her death, she gave money to her school in Florida to start a book collection that she hoped would encourage students to develop a lifelong love of reading. She also established a scholarship in her name for high-performing students who want to become teachers. A memorial service will be Saturday, April 12, at Immaculate Conception Church, North Easton , at 11 a.m. with a reception to follow. Memorial services are also planned in Florida and South Dakota. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to: ALS Research, In care of Dr. Kevin Boylan, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Road South, Jacksonville, FL 32224. St. Johns Family Funeral Home in St. Augustine, Fla.. is in charge of the arrangements.
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St. John's Family Funeral Home & Crematory
385 SR 207 St. Augustine, FL 32084
Published in The Enterprise on Mar. 30, 2014