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Laurie's Story

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Laurie Riddell Geary died peacefully surrounded by her two sons at her home overlooking Gloucester Harbor on April 30, 2017, after a long battle with non-smokers lung cancer. Originally from La Jolla, Calif., Laurie lived in Gloucester, Mass., since 1975. She lived and travelled all over the world.

Laurie attended Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia where she was a member of the synchronized swim team and bravely participated in the beginning of the civil rights movement in Virginia. She later graduated from the University of Virginia and received a Master's Degree in Education from Boston University.


Professionally, Laurie worked as a high school teacher in both English and Spanish; a trainer/facilitator for Outward Bound Professionals; a trainer for the Teacher Education Institute and a consultant for Right Management. She later became a certified life coach, helping others in career transition and then a cancer coach, helping others in cancer management.
As a community educator, Laurie brought many programs to Gloucester over the years including Parent Effectiveness Training, Stress Management, Self-Esteem Building, Conflict Resolution, Peer Leadership training, the Rape Crisis Hotline and Sexual Abuse Support, Living with Cancer and others.


Laurie was known as a connector, always an educator, and a coach. She was a role model of courage and strength, always maintaining a positive, indomitable spirit while dealing with a challenging terminal disease for nine years, often astonishing doctors in the process. She loved to dance (always with a partner, Zydeco, especially), sail, kayak, windsurf, ski, hike, bike, travel and be a loyal, cheering supporter of her family’s activities and her many friend’s activities.

Laurie was an avid reader and also an author of the books A Guide to Getting It: Self Esteem, Gear Up with Games and Dancing Through Cancer. She also authored the blog “Dancing Through Cancer” and her Carepages, both followed by many throughout her cancer journey.

Laurie is survived by her sons, Derek Geary of Gloucester, Mass., and Scott Geary of Orinda, Calif.; her daughter-in-law, Lisa Geary; three beloved grandchildren, Madison, Taylor and Jack; her sister, Ceci Viall; her nieces, Liza and Samantha; her nephew, Cal; her stepmother, Mildred Riddell; and other supportive relatives. She was predeceased by her mother, Rhoda Riddell; her father, Colonel Robert Riddell USMC; and her brother, Stevie Riddell.

Laurie had a huge impact on a wide swath of people. She taught people how to be more effective parents, to make good choices during transitions, to survive during and after trauma and illness and to find joy in one’s family and friends. Her cancer journey continues to give strength to many.
A celebration of her life, lived to its very fullest, will be held at the Beauport Gloucester Hotel on June 19, 2017, at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to lung cancer research. Laurie liked to educate people that more people die of lung cancer each year than of colon, breast and prostate combined, and yet receives a fraction of the funding.
Published on  May 3, 2017
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