Luci Dawson

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  • "This was what you hoped...I feel like I knew her after..."
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Luci Dawson

Luci Dawson was a force. She was feisty, funny, and oh, so entertaining. She had an iron will, a determined outlook, and energy to spare. She was ambitious, professional, creative, and an altogether modern woman who could be gentle, caring and supportive while bravely standing her ground. She was four feet ten inches of saucy, sparkly, sincerity with a keen eye, an astute mind, and a subtle wit. She was…a force.

And on Sunday night, February 18, 2018, that Force left this world and all of us a little worse off for her departure, but greatly enhanced by her presence and her love.

Luci is the daughter of Peter and Susan Calderaro (nee Scola) who predeceased her. She is survived by her sister, Carol (nee Calderaro) and brother-in-law Jim Karol; her brother, Pete Calderaro and sister-in-law Barbara; their children, Kimberly Calderaro, Peter Calderaro, Matthew Calderaro, Julie Schoemaker, Robert Anderson, Michael Anderson, Andrew Anderson; and their spouses and children.

During Luci's hospice journey, her family and friends were able to share many cherished memories. The entire family is deeply appreciative of the loving care that her friends and caregivers provided during this last month.

We who were fortunate enough to call her sister or friend knew her well. We want you to know her too.

Luci was born in Chicago, IL and attended Our Lady of Pompeii Grammar School, graduated from St. Scholastica Academy High School, and then St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Evanston. As a psychiatric nurse, she practiced for several years. Then she was tapped by the prestigious Chicago firm of Bertrand Goldberg who saw the potential for someone with her nursing expertise. She traveled all over the country for them, applying that deep knowledge to help design innovative healthcare facilities.

Luci later moved to San Francisco, CA and continued to use her nursing background as a consultant in the building of medical facilities. In California, the Chicago girl met a Chicago boy, Patrick, and fell deeply, madly in love. She described him as a "long cool drink of water" and even though he was 6'3" to her 4'10," they were perfectly matched. Luci often described their wedding day as the happiest day of her life. They were devoted partners in life and marriage as they settled in Point Reyes, CA.

She moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the 90's after losing her husband much too soon. Her family came and celebrated her 50th birthday with her and watched her re-start her life, just as you'd expect this strong independent woman to do. Heartbroken by her unimaginable loss, she nonetheless took on the challenge, as she always did, and created a meaningful, happy New Mexico life full of fun, friends, family, several careers and more than her fair share of green chile.

In Albuquerque, she developed a highly successful bookkeeping business. That, however, did not replace her volunteer work and organizational participation. She was very active in many organizations including NAWBO, serving as Executive Director for several years. Her love of animals motivated her to offer many forms of assistance to Animal Humane. For a time, she also ran the fabulous I Love Luci Candy Company. She loved it â€" a fun company based on a pun! When the time came to expand the business to full time, she opted out, explaining, "I can't live another day with chocolate always in my hair!" Everyone still Loved Luci even without the chocolate.

Luci relished nature and was an avid gardener, adapting quickly to the xeriscapes of New Mexico. She enjoyed horseback riding, fishing and hiking, and the beautiful Sandia Mountains. An excellent health-conscious cook, her kitchen always yielded food that tasted good and was good for you. She rescued many pets during her lifetime and almost always had furry friends underfoot, following her around as only the adoring do.

She was a voracious reader with eclectic taste and her Kindle was her constant companion. Because she read the newspaper cover to cover every day, she always knew what was happening in the political world and could discuss a wide range of topics with knowledge and insight and sometimes a bit of chagrin and wrath. There were so many interesting and admirable sides to Luci and she made sure you saw them all.

She volunteered at the University of New Mexico Chaco Canyon Research Department and other organizations over the years, always finding ways to improve systems, coordinate efforts and leave them better than she found them. She seemed to do the same for those she loved, leaving them better than she found them, too.

Her close friends admired her honesty and loyalty, and adored her acerbic wit. She could lay you out one minute with a very frank observation and have you laughing with her the next. She had a quick, agile mind and would often label people with pet names. One of her life-long friends remembers that they always called each other Cuckoo 1 and Cuckoo 2, apparently without ever knowing or caring which was which. I guess if you're a Cuckoo, it doesn't really matter?

She loved to laugh and appreciated the absurd, including terrible puns. She culled cartoons from diverse sources and sent them regularly to friends and family, just for fun. And then to feed the other side of her brain, she'd complete the Sunday New York Times puzzle…in pen!

For years, she had regular get-togethers with groups of friends where they would discuss big things and small, happy and sad, and she always had wisdom and welcome advice. The Lunch Bunch laughed hysterically and drank tequila and drew amused attention from others in the restaurants, where they were regulars. More than once, a manager had to ask them to be quiet, and that wasn't even the time Luci wore a stuffed animal as a hat to make them laugh! We should all get to experience being shushed by a manager because we're having too much fun!

All of us who loved her are so honored to have known her, to have learned from her, and to have shared that very unique Luci light. While our hearts are broken, we imagine her now swirling around the dance floor with her husband Pat forevermore. It was always her special wish and now it's our special hope for her.

Those who cared for her and about her want to thank ONPOINTE Hospice and Homecare for all the many ways they supported and assisted Luci through her final days. We would also like to give a special acknowledgment to Dr. Jerome Halle, who did the unimaginable. This dentist made, not one, but three house calls to fix Luci up so she could chew. Toward the end, when she was going through her list of people to say good-bye to, she whispered, "Tell Dr. Halle again, thank you for my teeth."

We would also like to thank her wonderful neighbors who helped her maintain her fierce independence. Over many years, they selflessly assisted when she needed a hand.

She appreciated everyone who visited, wrote, emailed or called. Lots of love poured into Luci's little failing heart and she soaked it all in and whispered, "thank you."

Luci supported the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity, the Roadrunner Foodbank, the Barrett Foundation, and the Albuquerque Animal Humane Society. They were all close to Luci's heart so contributions honoring Luci would be greatly appreciated. Luci would strongly suggest that we remind you that you can donate your time and energy to these wonderful charities too.

Luci insisted on no funeral or memorial or celebration of life. "I celebrated every day I was alive and with you all, so it is unnecessary." Practical to the end, which came much too soon for all who loved her.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Mar. 4, 2018