Laura M. Birkenhead

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Jan. 2, 2013

Laura M. Birkenhead, 96, of Wilkes-Barre, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.

Born in Philadelphia on May 9, 1916, she was a daughter of the late George and Mattie (Rodgers) Howell. She was a graduate of Atlantic City High School and Wyoming Seminary Dean School of Business.

She retired from R.J.R Nabisco, where she was employed as a secretary. She previously was employed by the former First National Bank of Wilkes-Barre, where she worked as a teller and secretary.

She was a member of Wyoming Valley Presbyterian Church, formerly Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she was a Sunday School teacher, a member of the choir for 40 years, a member of the Webster Class, having served as the president in 1958 and 1991, and was an ordained Elder. She was also a Girl Scout leader.

Laura was very dedicated to volunteering and serving her community. After retiring, she volunteered at the American Red Cross, Nesbitt Memorial Hospital and was a driver for Meals on Wheels until she was 88 years old.

Laura volunteered at the YWCA, where she served on the board of directors from 1961 to 1970 and was the only two-term president of the board of directors. She also served as the chairwoman of the HPER Committee and served as the treasurer of the Finance Committee from 1964 to 1966. She was a member of the Joint Action Committee in 1965, the Nominating Committee and was the corresponding secretary in 1963. She also was a member of the Capital Fund Campaign.

She was a member of the Mozart Club, where she served as financial secretary from 1961 to 1962, president from 1986 to 1988 and treasurer from 1990 to 1992. She was formerly a counselor of the Junior Mozart Club. She also was a member of the Wilkes-Barre Ballet Guild, where she served as vice president from 1966 to 1967 and president from 1968 to 1969.

Laura served as the president of Henry M. Hoyt School PTA and was a board member of both Friends of the Osterhout Free Library and Wyoming Valley Woman's Club. She served as co-chair of Citizens for Council Manager in 1966.

She was a member of the League of Women Voters, where she served on the Juvenile Court Study Committee, the Municipal Government Committee and Voter Services

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ronald Birkenhead, who passed away in 1988; and brothers, Chester and Kenneth Howells.

Surviving are her loving son, John Birkenhead, and his wife, Christine, Wilkes-Barre; and her loving daughter, Judy Birkenhead, College Park, Md.; grandchildren, Richard Birkenhead, Wilkes-Barre, and Victoria Birkenhead Smith, Shavertown; great-grandsons, Tyler and Zachary Smith; and many nieces and nephews across the country.

Services will be private and at the convenience of the family from Kniffen O'Malley Funeral Home Inc., 465 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre.

To send Laura's family words of comfort and friendship, please visit

Funeral Home
Kniffen O'Malley Leffler Funeral and Cremation Services, INC.
465 Main St
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
(570) 823-7157
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Published in Times Leader on Jan. 4, 2013