Melinda Foss Lafleur Hawman passed away last year, Nov. 25, 2013. She was born Nov. 26, 1936.
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Mindi's friends are invited to join her family for a memorial picnic gathering from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at the Chena Wayside pavilion, the campground on University Avenue next to the bridge. A potluck dish would be welcome.
Mindi was defined by her spirit of adventure and broad horizons. She established herself in two professions - teaching and nursing, traveled extensively, raised her family, volunteered in many organizations and made lasting friendships wherever she went.
She was interested in everything except computers. She never met a recipe she wouldn't try and loved to gather disparate groups of friends and family for lavish dinner parties or simple luncheons. She loved a coffee date, a road trip, colorful people, a good joke, ice cream, daily newspapers, a word puzzle or the chance to share a book.
She was a constant knitter, known for freeform, wildly colorful works of art. The same talent showed in her beadwork; she had designs published in national magazines and was the cover designer for one. She was a mentor to many of us but refused to take credit for it.
We all remember her as a giver, who put family and friends above all else, even herself. She was generous with her time, her books, handmade gifts and any help she could offer. She tended to hide her considerable intellect but was an independent thinker and an innovative teacher.
She was born and grew up in Los Angeles, and after graduation from Scripps College in 1959, she and her husband, Ray LaFleur, moved to Alaska. They traveled to Mexico, where their son, Miguel, was born in 1961. After their return to Alaska, she and Ray taught school in Tanacross, Selawick and Kaltag from 1962 to 1965.
Daughters Germaine and Lucia were born during this time. Next came her years at the Two Rivers one-room schoolhouse, when driving to work on the old Chena Hot Springs Road was a daily challenge. When she transferred to Fairbanks, she taught at Joy, Denali, Barnette, University Park, and finally Woodriver Schools. She loved Alaska and its people.
After their Musk Ox Subdivision cabin burned in 1969, the family traveled by freighter to Portugal for the winter, then returned to Fairbanks and rebuilt. They spent winter 1973 in Mexico. Ray died in 1976.
Mindi married Gerald Hawman in 1979 and added his children, Kevin, Arno and Laurel to her family. After she retired from teaching, she entered UAA nursing school and received her degree. For years she volunteered for Red Cross and traveled to many disaster sites, including New York after 9/11, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Missouri, South Carolina and the Virgin Islands. Gerry died in 2005.
Mindi is survived by her children, Miguel LaFleur, Germaine LaFleur, Lucia LaFleur, Kevin Hawman, Arno Hawman and Laurel Hawman Einck; brother, Philippe Foss; sister, Jennifer Poudevigne; grandchildren, Giselle, Danielle, Rhiannon, Jessica, Eric, and Emory; and a huge circle of devoted friends.
Published in Daily News-Miner on June 15, 2014