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Mary Wood Laula

1918 - 2009, Santa Barbara

On Sunday afternoon, March 8th, 2009, Mary Wood Laula passed away peacefully with seven of her family members, including her three children, at her side. Mary, who was 90 years old, had been a Santa Barbara resident since 1980, when she moved from Michigan to be closer to her children and grandchildren.

Mary was always cheerful and graceful, and she loved her family more than anything. She kept her family together around holidays, birthdays, and other special events. She loved good conversation, laughing, eating together, a glass of wine, and just plain celebrating. Mary had a great love for games. She had a sharp mind, and enjoyed playing bridge with her friends at Samarkand. She loved a good game of poker or gin rummy, and most recently Rummikub. She could shout out the answer to a word jumble faster than most, and she was an avid Lakers fan.

The family loved the sound of Mary's laugh. She enjoyed and savored the moment, had a great sense of humor, and always had something thoughtful and relevant to say. Mary had a certain dignity; she was always impeccably dressed with great casual style. She was a wonderful and delightful person, and will be dearly missed.

Mary was born October 29th, 1918 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved to Detroit, Michigan at age two with her parents and older brother. She graduated from Cooley High School and Wayne State University, both in Detroit. She and her late husband, Jack Laula, raised their children in Birmingham, Michigan. At age 47, Mary began graduate studies at the University of Michigan. She received a Masters Degree in Education and in 1970 began a ten-year career as a high school guidance counselor in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She loved working with teenagers and was recognized as a gifted, compassionate counselor and advisor.

Mary is survived by her son Dick Laula and his wife June Laula, her son Otto Laula and his partner Meganne Forbes, and her daughter Molly Laula and her partner Kim Klein. Mary's grandchildren are Jessani Laula Johnson and Luke Tierney. Jessani and her husband Scott Johnson are the parents of Mary's four great-grandchildren: Hannah, Will, Jack and Katey Johnson. Mary leaves behind her sister Virginia Shilson of St. Louis, Missouri, and her sister Kate Donohoe of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and also her dozens of friends among the residents and staff of the Samarkand Retirement Community where she lived for the past 17 years.

There will be a service for Mary at the Samarkand Chapel on Friday, March 27th, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. Mary thoroughly enjoyed the athletic exploits of her great-grandchildren; in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to a charity of choice, or the local non-profit youth team, Santa Barbara Tides Baseball Club (sbtides.org).

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