Laurie Geraldine Charlotte O'Connell, 88, formerly of South Hadley Falls and East Sandwich, MA, died peacefully at her home in Mount Vernon, WA on June 24, 2013. The family would like to express appreciation to Dr. Janet Hansom, Hospice of the Northwest (especially Anne and Doug), Home Attendant Care (Debbie, Kelly and Alba), and friends who helped her through her last years and days.
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Laurie was born Laurie Kemmis in Sydney, Australia in 1925, the daughter of Gerald and Charlotte Kemmis. Charlotte died before Laurie was a year old; her father later married Violet, who raised Laurie as her own.
During WWII, Laurie met John Findley, Jr., of Marblehead, MA, who visited Sydney on leave from his Army Air Force base in New Guinea. An adventurous young woman, Laurie left Sydney by ocean liner in 1946 for San Francisco, CA, where she and John were married in a civil ceremony at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The couple subsequently resided in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. They had three children - John (now of Montague, MA), Geraldine Sue (who died in Greenfield, MA in 2010) and Liz (now of Conway). Laurie and John divorced in 1973.
Laurie married Daniel J. O'Connell, of South Hadley, MA, in 1978. Laurie and Dan subsequently lived in East Sandwich, MA. They moved to Mount Vernon, WA, in 2000.
Though she became a naturalized citizen of the united States, Laurie remained enduringly Australian in her outlook and lifestyle. Following many years as a homemaker and active parent, she enthusiastically undertook a succession of jobs in banking, real estate and public relations. She was a choir member, an avid dancer, an occasional golfer, a quilter and a community volunteer. Laurie was a tireless fan of Australians in the PGA and progressive women in politics. She particularly enjoyed the company of others and did so with great humor and energy. She valued her participation in the work and communities of the South Hadley Falls Congregational Church many years ago, and more recently of the Skagit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Mount Vernon, WA).
Laurie was predeceased by her parents; husbands, John and Dan; her sisters, Zoe and Roslyn; and her daughter, Gerry.
She leaves behind daughter, Liz, her husband John Meier and their sons Kyle and Colin Findley-Meier, and her son John and his partner Ruth Fressenden and their son Cooper Findley. Laurie also leaves step-daughters Christine O'Connell and her husband Mark Reese of North Carolina, and Mary Elfmann and her husband Leroy Elfmann, of Minnesota. In addition, she leave behind her niece Penelope Westgarth, nephews Douglas Westgarth and Roger Westgarth - and their families - all of Australia.
A Celebration of Life will be held in Mount Vernon at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of the Northwest Foundation, P.O. Box 1376, Mount Vernon, WA 98273, or to Skagit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 500 W. Section St., Mount Vernon, WA 98273.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on June 29, 2013