Laurie Batchelar Culbertson passed away quietly in her bedroom early Sunday, January 15, 2023. All three kids – her life’s work – were present to see her off. Galactically appropriate.
Born in Squirrel Hill, Laurie graduated from Ellis School and Wells College in Aurora, NY. She was an excellent athlete and active in sports all of her life particularly tennis and swimming. She dated her husband of fifty five years while in high school. After marriage, she taught English in Waterloo, NY and at Winchester Thurston in Pittsburgh. Later, she attended Chatham University and taught at Hillel Academy.
A founder of the Fox Chapel District Council, Laurie led many initiatives in the district including Festival 87. She also served her church and was instrumental in racial reconciliation efforts and mission work. A group of black and white women came together in that effort, and became lifelong friends. Laurie loved bringing grandkids together at New Smyrna Beach, hosting get togethers where everyone participated in constructing giant sand castles. Locally, her family was referred to as “the Diggers”. Coca-Cola, compassion, and strays of all kinds punctuated her lifestyle. She was also an enthusiastic canoeist –tripping with her family in Algonquin Park, Ontario, and paddling on the Allegheny River.
The focus of her life for the last twenty years has been her grandchildren. Whether celebrating a graduation, a first birthday, a piano recital, or a swim meet, Gramzie was there. She was proud of them, and her favorite place to be was in her red chair listening to the cacophony of Minecraft, the guitar, a Steelers game, and teenage conversation.
During her final days, a steady stream of friends came to share with her, virtually transforming her residence from a somber place into a house party; the process of teaching us that the people who “don’t want to be a bother” are the ones who should “come on over”. Life is about community.
Laurie leaves her husband, John, three children: Libby (Johannes), Jay, and Lolly (Paul), five grandchildren, Oskar, Will, and Topher Ernharth, and Reed and Phoebe Errickson, and her brother, David Batchelar (Cari). She was preceded in death by Laura S. and John P. Batchelar (Larry and Batch) and her brother, John P. Batchelar (Jackie).
A memorial service will be held at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, January 24th at 10 am.
A lover of the outdoors and a believer in experiential education for young women, the family requests that donations be made in memory of Laurie to Camp Ak-O-Mak www.campakomak.com the outdoor girls’ camp that influenced the lives of her daughters and granddaughters.
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