Laurie Stephan was a wonderful person to know and to love. She lived her life with a positive outlook that supported her during life's greatest challenges. Selfless and kind, she was well loved by her family and made many lasting memories over the years. Her endearing personality and her compassion for others will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Her story begins on June 10, 1937 in Frankville, Iowa while the nation was still recovering from tough economic times. Dolores "Laurie" was born along with her twin brother Donald to Daniel and Dorothy (Kneeskern) Russett bringing great joy and hope into their lives. They were always proud to have raised such a respectful and well mannered daughter.
As a child, she learned how to be resourceful as well as grateful at an early age. Born to a large family, there was never a dull moment in the Russett household. Studious as well as ambitious, Laurie was a proud graduate with the Class of 1955 from a local high school in Calmar. Following high school, she attended Winona Teachers College in pursuit of her dream of becoming a teacher. To help supplement her living expenses, she took a nanny job for the children of Dr. Van Alstine. Her natural way with children made her a good fit. The Van Alstine family thought she would like to attend a nice rural church nearby and brought her to a service at Hebron Moravian Church near Altura. It was at church that she met the man who would steal her heart forever, Gerald Stephan. They hit it off right from the start and began dating. Happily in love, they married on August 4, 1958 and made their home next door to the church. The Van Alstine family's twin girls she nannied for were flower girls in their small wedding ceremony. Laurie continued her education at Winona and later graduated. Together they raised five wonderful children who were their pride and joy!
Balancing her role as a mother, Laurie taught music at St. Charles and Lewiston High Schools and substitute taught for several years. She was passionate about her students yet always put her family first. Busy with lesson planning, recitals, and concerts, she also was active in her own children's busy schedules. Laurie cared about her students and always looked out for their needs. Nurturing and supportive throughout her teaching career, she always looked for the goodness in her students even the challenging ones. Relishing her years as a mother, Laurie was immensely proud of each of her children's many accomplishments and wanted nothing more than to share in their every success.
In the Spring of 1980, Laurie suffered an aneurysm. She was lucky to have a surgeon who performed a rare procedure to give her more time. Expected to live another five years, Laurie remarkably lived another forty-one! Although she was fortunate to have survived, she lost some of her spunk and began to naturally slow down as a result. Following her retirement from teaching, Laurie took a position with Herff Jones in Lewiston for five years. She and Gerald were grateful to be blessed with grandchildren and spent their years enjoying their many special celebrations and events. It was easy for anyone to notice how much she cherished each addition to the family.
She and Gerald had a special love for one another and enjoyed many happy years together before he passed away in 2012. Laurie being very independent moved to an apartment in St. Charles in 2016. She treated everyone with kindness and generosity, a legacy she leaves behind to her abundant family. Laurie wanted nothing more than the very best for her many special friends and loved ones. May they always look back fondly on her rich collection of memories and may their lives reflect the joy and laughter she shared with so many over the years.
Dolores "Laurie" Stephan, 84, of St. Charles and formerly of Altura, died Thursday, July 29th of a brain aneurysm, at Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Mary's Campus Rochester. Laurie was an active member of Our Savior Moravian Church in Altura, where she served as music director for forty years and was involved in the church circle. Survivors include her five children: Miriam (Terry) Sanguins of Denton, MT, Melanie Fischer of Panama City Beach, FL, Chaplain Merlin (Renee) Stephan of Highland Park, IL, Mark (Lisa) Stephan and Mitch (Sara) Stephan both of Altura, 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren with number ten expected in January; all boys, and three siblings, Randy Russett, Beverly (Curt) Ruston and Kathleen (Allen) Gerber. In addition to her husband Gerald, Laurie was preceded in death by her infant brother; Merlin, and siblings Jan, Don, Keith, Marilyn, and Allen.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 4, 2021, at Our Savior Moravian Church in Altura with Reverend Barry Lehman officiating. Burial will follow services in Hebron Moravian Cemetery. A visitation will be at the church Tuesday, August 3rd from 5-8 p.m. and one hour before services at the church on Wednesday. Pallbearers will be Seth Sanguins, Sam Stephan, Zach Stephan, Drew Wilkins, Cyril Pyfferoen, Josh Ehlenfeldt, Flint Schaaf, Tony Cates and Mitch Hardy. Honorary pallbearers will be Bethany Hardy, Casey Cates, Skylar Stephan, Kayla Wilkins, Brooke Pyfferoen, Ame Schaaf, Abby Ehlenfeldt, Serena Sanguins and Sidney Sanguins.
Please share a memory of Laurie at www.hofffuneral.com. Hoff Funeral Service of St. Charles is assisting the family with arrangements. Laurie's family extends its sincere gratitude to the staff of Mayo Clinic for the 41 years of care, since Laurie's aneurysm in 1980, as well as to the St. Charles Ambulance and Police Department.
"Miriam and be Stephan family, I just wanted to share my heartfelt condolences with you all. While I never met your mother she sounded like an amazing very talented kind lady. Miriam now I know where you got your musical abilities and talents from. Keep your memories close to your heart , with my thoughts and prayers Sandy (Giles) Melville"
"My deepest sympathies to you all on the loss of your dear mother, Laurie. She was indeed a fine woman. May our Lord bless and keep you today and always."
"I was sad to hear of Laurie\'s passing. She was an amazing woman of faith and devoted to her church and family. I pray that God will bless you and give you comfort as you mourn. "
"My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. May you cherish the wonderful memories you had with her
"So sad to see this. Growing up in Altura, I remember Laurie as my Sunday school teacher and the church choir director in the 1960s and 70s. I loved hearing her sing! She always had a kind word and a smile to share when I returned to visit church after moving away in the 80s. More recently, it was fun to reconnect and follow her on FB. She made such a difference. My sincere condolences and prayers to the entire Stephan family. "
"We lived next door and will always cherish our visits together. Such wonderful life stories and the love she had for her family. She will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."
"Our deepest prayers go out to all of you during this time. Laurie or as dad (Mel) would say, \"Delores\" was always welcoming and ready to visit when we came to the farm as I was growing up. She so loved her family and will be missed dearly."
"Marlow and I offer our heart-felt sympathy to the Stephan family. Laurie was always kind and gracious when we would visit together. We will miss running into her and sharing conversation."
"Such a classy and friendly lady. She was always a pleasure to visit with. Many memories of her and the Stephan family. My sincere sympathy to you all. Shelly Beyer "
"Sara & family
This trail of life is never easy..
Hugs to all of you at this time..
I understand the pain you are all going through.."
"An outstanding vocalist, teacher and musician has joined the ranks of the Church Triumphant. I will never forget her clear soprano voice in services throughout Winona County over many years. Blessings and Peace to all Laurie\'s family. Sincerest sympathy,
"I have good memories of singing in the Girls\' Choir at Hebron Moravian Church under Laurie\'s direction. She was a caring leader and a fine musician. My deepest sympathy to the entire family."
"Laurie sang at our wedding 52 years ago; beautiful song of Ruth and The Lords Prayer. She continued to influence our family as choir director. Prayers for all her family"