Laurie Richards was born in St. Thomas hospital. The same year Gary, her husband, was also born there. Coincidently, they didn’t live far from each other growing up and even went to the same high school. But they never met until both had returned to the Donelson area after being away to college. When Gary moved back to the area, he decided to worship at Pennington Bend church of Christ. He noticed that before and after services young adults would gather around one end of the foyer. There was always laughter which often was stimulated by one young lady. Gary thought to himself, “Is she a celebrity?” Later she did became his shining star. They began dating after riding an Inner City bus together. Later they married and soon after became houseparents for Happy Hills Boys Ranch in Ashland City. They later returned to Donelson until the 90’s when they bought a lot in Mt Juliet. They built a house and made their home here. Laurie looked at the sleepy town of MJ back at that time and said, “It is going to take forever to get to Wal-mart.” Laurie always kept us laughing. Laurie could be described in many other ways, such as frugal, a good crazy, calming, great cook, quick wit, off the wall, cool head, optimistic, clever, selfless, wise, faithful, and persistent. She was a perfect mother whose care was complete and deep. She strove to take away fears and insecurities. She loved Curt and Cayman with all her being. She was a loyal and devoted wife. Gary said, “She has always been my Rock of Gibraltar.” Gary and Laurie enjoyed going to Hawaii last year as they were married 30 years. This year they looked forward to a flight out west to see Mt. Rushmore and other sights. They had always enjoyed going to Gatlinburg twice a year. That was Laurie’s escape. Each morning they hugged, kissed, and told each other “I love you.” Monday, July 1, was no different as they parted ways. But later that morning Laurie would apparently become unconscious while driving causing a fatal single car accident. Laurie had courageously battled diabetes and several other illnesses leading to many prescriptions and doctor appointments. She would work in her kitchen singing in her beautiful alto voice “Living by Faith” or “This World is not my Home.” One of her favorite passages was Matthew 6:25-37 where Jesus teaches in the sermon on the mountain to not worry. Jesus taught and Laurie believed that God takes care of the sparrows and beautifully clothes the lilies of the field. Her faith resulted in a woman who was truly grateful for the small things in life. And when someone would start to worry, she would say, “Now worrying does what good?” Or, “Can you change it?” She had such faith because she knew The One who held her future. We have such comfort because she knew Him.
Michelle Myers has known Laurie for most of Michelle’s life. I want to give you a few lines from a beautiful two page letter in which she described Laurie. “Laurie loved everything. She appreciated God’s gifts in the every day small stuff and did not take them for granted… She appreciated the love God had shown her and had gotten her through many storms of life… Laurie was a friend! She was thoughtful, really thoughtful! When I was a young bride she shared recipes with me and showed me the ropes of how to organize my home… She had so many friends throughout her life and I watched her bless them as well…. Laurie was fun! No one could tell a story like Laurie. Laurie’s description of events was always better than seeing it live. Her laugh was priceless and contagious… Laurie was a teacher. She began teaching Sunday school at a young age. She invited me to teach with her when I was a young teenager at Pennington Bend and I learned so much from her… Laurie was a wife and mother. It was her most important role and she loved it. She loved her family… I hope when I get to heaven, Laurie will be there waiting for me to show me the ropes. I look forward to hearing her beautiful summary of how wonderful it all is in “Laurie-like” words!”
To Gary, Curt, Cayman, and all the family. We pray for you and hurt with you. But thank God that our grief is accompanied with great hope! Christ’s grave is empty! Life defeated death! We shall meet again.