Laurie was born in Milton, Pennsylvania. She was the third of four daughters for Tom and Virginia (Corky) Powell. She became a veterinarian technician, a phlebotomist in the US Army for 4 years, and then got a degree as a Medical Technologist at Bloomsburg College. That led to a position in the Microbiology Lab at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where she met her eventual husband, Don Skillman. Laurie became a published expert on mycobacterium and fungi, and eventually became the “Teaching Tech” at Walter Reed, educating everyone on new diagnostic strategies to identify dangerous germs.
In 1994 Don and Laurie moved to Denver. Their son, Andrew, was born there. In 1996 it was on to El Paso, where their second son, Ben, was born. Laurie worked in the Microbiology Lab in the Army Medical Centers in both cities. In 2001 they moved back to Maryland and Walter Reed. Helena, Montana has been their home since 2006. Here, Laurie has worked in the Montana State Health Lab.
Always, Laurie was deeply involved in her church and totally dedicated to her family. The boys are both in college (“killing it”) with bright futures. She loved her stepson Brad and his wife Laura. She found amazing and special delight in our granddaughter, Stella.
Although her life was much too brief, there is still far too much to include in an obituary. She hiked almost every day with our labradoodle (who was born on her birthday!), she read hundreds and hundreds of silly romance novels, and she had a cup of hot tea with me every morning. Laurie sent beautiful and intricate homemade cards to scores of people on every occasion. Nearly all have been cherished and saved by the recipient. She decorated the entire house for each holiday, planted flowers everywhere, and loved to sing in the church choir.
My cherished companion for over 25 years, Laurie suffered an unexpected and devastating hemorrhagic stroke on Nov 6. She donated her heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys to unknown strangers. This is just a sprinkle of the incredible and wonderful person that Laurie was, and an illustration of the grace and thoughtful giving that radiated from her life.
In addition to all those mentioned above, Laurie is survived by three sisters, three brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and a big bunch of nieces, nephews, and the next generation after them.
Whenever I sent a card or letter to Laurie, it was signed at the bottom with the words “Forever and Ever”. It felt like a nice sentiment to remind her of how long I planned to love her and to be with her. Much to my horror and relentless anguish, I discovered that “Forever and Ever” can come to an unexpected, numbingly painful end far, far too soon.
For Laurie, I ask you to look to your left or look to your right, and tell the person or people sitting with you how much you value their friendship, how much joy they bring to your life, and how much you cherish being with them. Do this often, constantly even, wherever you go -- for yourself as well as for the recipient of your words. You can never know when it might be your last chance to say, “I love you, Forever and Ever.”
A funeral service will be held at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 14th at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 512 Logan St. A reception will follow the memorial service at the church. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Mission Team Fund at St Paul’s United Methodist Church, 512 Logan Street, Helena, MT. 59601. Please visit Please visit www.retzfuneralhome.com to offer her family a condolence or to share a memory of Laurie.