Laurie Lynn (Hamer) O'Brien passed away in the arms of her husband Thursday, Nov. 20 after eight years of courageously battling cancer. Laurie was born Dec. 21, 1958 in Helena to parents Russell and Janice Hamer. She attended elementary school in East Helena, middle school at CR Anderson in Helena and graduated from Helena Capital in 1976. She graduated from Western Montana College with a B.A. in business and a B.S. in elementary education and completed a master's degree from Lesley University.
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While in high school she was on the cross-country team, track team, and played basketball for the Bruins. Laurie was mischievous and was always looking to tease or play jokes on her friends. She was the only female in her high school auto mechanics class and was "said" to be responsible for pulling fire alarms to empty the school. But she denied it with a big smile. In college she participated in track and basketball, and was an ambassador for recruiting new students. This is where she met the love of her life, Bud O'Brien. They were married in 1982.
In the fall of 1981 Laurie joined the teaching staff at Quaw Elementary in Belgrade and taught third grade there for 29 years. Laurie's classroom always contained a menagerie of critters; box turtles, a tarantula, hermit crabs, aquatic turtles, three large fish aquariums … and kids. Throughout her teaching career Laurie had multiple accomplishments. Among them were attending the National Science Convention in Boston, sleeping in a teepee at an Outdoor Science workshop in Choteau, and being selected to attend NASA Education workshop in California. Laurie also coached 5th and 6th grade boys basketball, was an assistant volleyball coach when Belgrade captured the state title in 1991, and served as an officer for the Belgrade Education Association.
Laurie and Bud did not have children but their nephews, Russell and Bradley Milam, were like their own. Uncle Bud would coach their t-ball teams and Aunt Laurie was the team mom organizer of snacks. They both attended all the boys' midget football games, high school games, and rarely missed a track meet following them throughout their collegiate track meets.
Laurie loved to scrapbook, read, 4-wheel, tend flower gardens, and golf. She volunteered at the Peace Lutheran Church serving lunches to Belgrade High students and volunteered at Sack's Thrift Store in Belgrade organizing books.
Laurie is survived by her husband, Robert O'Brien, her parents, Russell and Janice Hamer of Helena, Mont. Two sisters, Reene' (Gary) Milam of Bozeman, and Valerie Eickmeyer of Helena. Nephew, Russell (Susie) Milam of Cohagen, Mont. and their children, Hannah and Addison. Nephew, Bradley (Ana) Milam of Las Vegas, Nev. and their children, Alexia, Adajah, Jayson, and Ariana. Nephew, Brandon (Stephanie) of Polson, Mont. and their son, Nicoli. Nephew, Cody Eickmeyer of Helena, niece, Andrea Eickmeyer of Helena. Mother-in-law, Margie O'Brien of Florence, Mont. Sister-in-law, Rose O'Brien of Chicago, Ill., Mary (Donnie) Soito of Boise, Idaho and their children, Robbie and his son, Conner, and Katie Soito. Brothers-in-law, Keith (Shannon) O'Brien of Florence and their children, Chad and Carly, Kevin (Debra) O'Brien and their children, Rosie and Mickie.
Laurie is preceded in death by her nephew, Christopher Milam and father-in-law, Robert O'Brien.
Memorials may be made to the Cancer Community Center, 102 S. 11th, Bozeman, MT 59715.
A celebration of her life will be Thursday, Dec. 4 at 4:30 p.m. at the Peace Lutheran Church, 203 Jackrabbit Lane, Belgrade.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 30, 2014