Laura Wolfson

Obituary of Laura Wolfson

Laura Wolfson passed at home in San Diego surrounded by family and friends on November 8th.

Adored wife of Dr. Herb for 63 years, she is survived by children Audrey Saunders(Robert Hess)of Duvall, WA, Linda Fields of Greenwich, CT, grandchildren Paul and Laura Fields of NYC, grandkitties Nick and Nora, and many nieces, nephews and cousins in New York, Switzerland and France. Preceded in death by sister Mia Frieden and brother Emil “Mike” Thaeler.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland to Emil and Maria Thaeler, Laura attended medical school at The University of Lausanne, where she trained in pediatric nursing and met the love of her life, Herb. They married and crossed the Atlantic to begin their life together in Brooklyn, eventually moving to Port Washington, NY to raise their family. Retirement brought them to La Jolla, CA where they spent 28 happy years.

Laura was a kind and caring soul with an extraordinary sense of humor, and a model of strength and resilience for her family. A lover of all things in nature, music and travel. An avid gardener. She was an excellent cook and homemaker, known for her dinner parties and her salmon mousse. She spoke four languages and was equally proud of her Swiss heritage and her American citizenship. Laura made many enduring friendships over the decades as a student at the UCSD Osher Institute, as well as an instructor in stretch aerobics there in her later years.

The family wishes to thank the many angels of Comfort Keepers and Keepsake Companions for their support and friendship, most especially Carlena Falzarano and Edie Hill, and Interim Hospice for their exceptional services.

Funeral will be private. Announcement of a celebration of Laura’s life will be made at a later date. The family requests that contributions be considered to the charity of your choice.

Mom excelled in so many roles in so many different languages; as a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and grandmother. And in Swiss German, French & English with some Italian and Yiddish thrown in for good measure. Sometimes simultaneously. No one had more nicknames…. Ola, Lorelei, Loretta, Tante, Mamasita and Granma…an alias for each facet of her life.

She was kind, generous of spirit and hard-wired to do good deeds quietly. She had incredible humility. Right up to her last week she continued to express how lucky she was to have lived the life she lived. As she got older, she radiated a light of gratitude; the kind of gratitude that only comes from having passed through some tough, tough challenges.

She was gracious to all and always said thank you.

Mom carried music in her head and in her heart. It was ever-present in our home. She laughed easily and often. Some of my best memories are of her with our Swiss family literally laughing to tears, laughing harder, more tears. It didn’t take much. Ditto with my Aunt Evy and cousin Helene.

She adored all babies, human or otherwise, anything having to do with the garden, and all of the backyard squirrels had German names.

Gorgeous and vivacious, Mom loved a good meal, a good glass of wine and a good laugh…traits that clearly passed through her own Mom and Dad and showed up in droves in Audrey, myself and the grandchildren. Her gifts as a hostess were legendary. Serving up a great meal and creating a welcoming atmosphere gave her tremendous pleasure. Our home sparkled. It wasn’t until I moved to college that I had the courage to test her theory that the house would fall down if a dish was left in the sink overnight.

Mom had an adventurous streak and was always up for stretching the boundaries; transcendental meditation, EST, Judo, modelling, leading an aerobic stretch class at 80+….Herb and Laura headed to the left coast 30 years ago and never looked back.

The UCSD Osher Institute was a central part of their life here. It kept them on their toes intellectually and was the pathway to so many valued and enduring friendships.

To be frank I’m not so sure Mom enjoyed the lectures with titles like”Foreign Affairs Forum: The Indo-Sino Wars of 1962/1967″but she’d go because Herb went. And happily sit in the back of the room joking with Bill Coltellaro. She did enjoy the fine arts, nature lectures, and Memoirs. And was so proud when listed in the course catalogue for the pre-class stretch aerobics. She loved that. WE loved that she didn’t cause any heart attacks to the tune of Abba’s “Dancing Queen”.

Mom took great pride in making a home with all that that entailed. There was a brief attempt at having a housekeeper; of course, as a solid middle-class Swiss gal Laura cleaned the house before the maid arrived, then served her tea. It was a short-lived experiment in being the fancy wife of a doctor…..SO not her style.

Her love and dedication to our Dad knew no boundaries. From their days together in Lausanne some 65 years ago, they held tight. And when the storms blew in, they held even tighter.

Maybe it had something to do with the unbreakable nightly ritual of cheese, crackers, cocktails and conversation on the terrace at 5, promptly. They were voracious travelers, and relived those adventures as they advanced in years, the reminiscences frequently followed by one of Herb’s celebrated power points.

Laura was a good wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, celebrating the family’s successes and supporting us through the challenging times. She welcomed Audrey’s husband Robert as her own son. She was loving to her previous sons-in-law and gracious when they departed. She wrote us beautiful notes in her beautiful, old-school handwriting. She was always so proud of Audrey and my various accomplishments, and always seemed completely astonished at the different turns that those took. As a Granma, she embraced Paul and Laura across the miles and adored them with her whole heart.

Especially at the start, it probably wasn’t easy being the wife of a doctor who kept very long hours, and the mother of 2 in a country where the language and customs were not her own. But she made her way. And left an enduring legacy with a life really, truly well lived.

I suspect I would have been writing this two years earlier were it not for the support of the angels of Comfort Keepers. They played a significant role in creating a safe, positive environment for the last stretch of Mom’s journey. Special thanks to Carlena and Edie, whose dedication and friendship far exceeded the boundaries of their job descriptions. Thank you to Vila of Jewish Family Service for her many kindnesses over the years And to the staff of Interim Hospice, whose guidance and stewardship were invaluable.

Proverbs 31:28-31

A Wife (and mother)of Noble Character

Her children stand and bless her.

Her husband praises her:

There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,

But you surpass them all!

Charm is deceptive and beauty does not last;

But a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

Reward her for all she has done.

Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

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