Laurie Ann (Lowry) Di Pietra passed away February 1, 2018, from ovarian cancer. She’s survived by her husband John Di Pietra and her two boys, Austin and Greyson Honaker.
Laurie was born November 26, 1955, in Belleville, KS, to Neva and Clyde Lowry and grew up in Topeka, KS, with her brother Marty and two sisters Lyn and Jan.
Growing up, Laurie found joy in school and sports at Shawnee Heights. Breaking gender norms before it was cool, Laurie could twirl with grace and wink with beauty at one moment and pummel her competition the next. She excelled at everything, whether dominating highschool volleyball (state champions) and club softball (gold medals galore), serving in student council (Treasurer), or being crowned Queen of Courts her senior year.
In November of 1970 her life changed forever when she decided to put all her hope and trust in Jesus Christ after watching The Cross and Switchblade at a Youth for Christ event. From that day on, he became her all in all.
In college she lived with close friends, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Washburn University, worked with Youth for Christ, and spent her free time partying with the singles group at Topeka Bible Church, where she was baptized and married.
Six different men asked Laurie for marriage. Dozens of others knew they didn’t stand a chance. She eventually fell in love and got hitched in 1982 and had two boys by 1988.
In everything, but especially as a mom, Laurie embodied strength. A single mother of two boys, she provided with one arm and nurtured with the other. In her eight years as a family service associate with Penwell Gabel she won numerous awards and brought comfort to families with her characteristic compassion and kindness. She also founded a widow’s group at the funeral home, which became her legacy and helped many people during the most difficult time in their lives. It was that group, not her successful career, that Laurie was most proud of. She founded a second group in El Dorado, KS.
Although Laurie experienced significant hardship as a mother, struggling against late-stage cancer and divorce, she faced it all with dignity and laughter. She sang Hakuna Matata to her boys, making it their family motto. She never stopped making corny mom jokes, dancing like a dork, and singing “O’sole Miooooo!” in operatic vibrato—no matter what she went through and no matter how much it made her adolescent boys cringe. Laurie’s smile conquered all. It was a smile of victory, one that knew come what may, she would overcome. And if she couldn’t, that Christ has overcome for her.
In 2002 she met a handsome Italian American, John Di Pietra, who swept her off her feet romantic-comedy-style and married her in 2007. John called her his energizer bunny, as she bounced around the house taking care of his every need even before he realized he needed it. Laurie got joy from giving him joy. At their little house on a prairie (Towanda, Kansas) they owned two horses and an Australian Shepard named Fancy. In 2014, they moved to Kansas City, closer to Laurie’s family, where she lived until the end.
Laurie was born a fish whisperer. If the weather was warm, you’d find her reeling in the biggest fish in any body of water available. She took pride in one-upping her dad, the master fisherman of the family. She spent long days on her parent’s houseboat on Lake Perry catching crappie and in the Black Hills snatching rainbow trout from clear bright streams.
She enjoyed visiting the Black Hills with her hubby and family, hosting her boys for dinner, going to shows and exhibits, learning the truth behind ‘true-story’ movies, water skiing, watching KU and the Chiefs, riding her horses, trying her luck at penny slot machines, bird watching, playing ping pong, trying new restaurants with her sis and mom, celebrating holidays with the family, reading, learning, and traveling. Laurie basically loved everything in life, because she always saw the beauty and joy in everything and only dwelled on the good.
Laurie was the bane of corporations everywhere. Armed with every coupon available, she left stores with armfuls of items reduced by 75 percent or more. It’s likely she never paid full price for a single thing. But her purchases were always for others, because she considered others over herself at all times, even in the simplest ways. If you ever mentioned to her that you liked a particular snack or product, the next time you saw her she’d drop it in your lap. She’d always make a big deal about the small things you cared about. And whenever you were around her, you'd discover that you were brimming with joy, because hers overflowed and filled you up.
The way she spent her final days perfectly reflects her character, which she maintained until the end. She had the rare opportunity of knowing she was about to die. Not only did she not lose her smile and good humor, but of all the things she could have done for herself in her final days, she spent her free time writing dozens of letters to family and friends, ensuring that bills and budgeting were taken care of, making sure the funeral arrangements were in place, and generally worrying that people were happy and comfortable (and well fed!) when they visited. When she had every right imaginable to finally think of herself, she only thought of others.
And that’s the essence of Laurie: a woman who spent her life living for others and joyfully loving God with all her heart.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
Laurie loved flowers, but she loved Jesus and people more, so she’d like you to donate to one of these organizations in lieu of flowers: Youth for Christ, Salvation Army of KC, Medical Missions, church of your choice.
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