Laurie Joann Johnson Beers, 68, of Nye, passed away peacefully at home, on July 29, 2018. She is survived by husband, John A. Beers; daughters, Alexandra (Peter), Erika (Matthew) and Kristin (Lindsay); grandchildren Benjamin, Madeline, Avery, Elias, Bowie, Colby and Jarod; and siblings Scott and Kristin.
Laurie graduated from Pennsylvania State University. Most of her professional career was with York Graphic Services/TechBooks/Aptara in York, Pennsylvania. After moving to Nye, Laurie was the contract postmaster for five years. She also was elected to the Board of Trustees of Beartooth Electric Cooperative.
What mattered most to Laurie was family, friends, exercise, reading, hiking, sewing and work. She was surrounded in life by a wonderful family and great friends.
As a child, Laurie rode her bike through the neighborhood, relentlessly assaulting telephone poles with her rubber knife and fearlessly exploring the construction site that would become Queensgate Shopping Center. Laurie, like her father, was extremely accident prone and some of her injuries became legendary in our family. During one unauthorized visit to the Queensgate construction site, Laurie stepped on a nail that went through her sneaker and into her foot. Hopping back in shock, she planted her other foot directly on another nail. There was a reason her parents told her not to go to the construction site, and this was it. But her sense of adventure couldn’t be dampened.
Continuing the adventuring that began in her youth, Laurie and John backpacked across Europe in 1970. They moved to Scotland in 1971, where they bathed from a tin pan heated on the stovetop out of necessity while John was enlisted in the Navy.
They moved back to the States and spent some time along the South Carolina coast in 1974 while John was still enlisted in the Navy. In 1978, they moved back to Pennsylvania, where they had their first child, Alexandra. During her pregnancy with Alex, Laurie and John bought a Ward log house kit, hired a crane, and constructed their new home together. One of her children lives in that home today with her own children.
It wasn’t sustainable for John and Laurie to stay in Pennsylvania, so they moved to New Jersey in 1980. In 1982, four years after Alex was born, they discovered Laurie was pregnant with twins in her eighth month of pregnancy (it might surprise some younger mothers that ultrasounds were not routine in the ’80s…). After the twins were born, Laurie decided she wanted to raise her children in the log home she and John had built, so she moved home without her husband, who stayed in New Jersey for his job. There was no central air, no heat. Just a well, a wood stove, and grit. Her car would get stuck at the bottom of the driveway in the snow and she would carry two kids at a time. She would make those kids safe, hurry back for the third, and then make a fire to warm the house. She was fierce. And kind and willing to change in a thousand ways when met with new challenges.
John came home during the weekends until the advent of the Internet made telecommuting possible, and, during all of that time, Laurie managed their family with kindness and determination while he was gone. She taught her children to build fires and be fearless, to explore their world, ask questions, and find a way to make a life for themselves no matter the circumstances.
That same sense of adventure that was woven throughout their lives brought Laurie and John to Montana in retirement, where they were enriched by new experiences and friends.
During one of our last conversations, she said she had hoped to live another 15 years and, one day while having tea, just fall over. No pain, no prolonged suffering for her family. But that’s not what she got. And, frankly, she was a badass through every second of the hard hand she was dealt. And we were grateful for as long as she could find some sliver of joy in a life that was, at the end, dominated by pain and the desire to be free of that. Life is unpredictable that way.
At the end of our lives, I believe it’s the most human impulse to review our lives and consider our impact. My mother told me that I can honor her best by being a good person for the whole rest of my life. I am off now to try and meet that bar with compassion and love and patience and thoughtfulness. I hope you will try, too.
If my mother or her story has touched your life, please consider donating to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance OCRFA.org.