Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Memorial honors life of staff member Laura Ealy

Laura Ealy, a custodian in Maxey Hall with 18 years of service to the Whitman community, passed away suddenly on Nov. 25. The cause of her death is not known.

Laura’s vibrant personality and lively spirit will not be forgotten.

Friends and family members flooded Maxey Auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 2, for a memorial service held in her honor. Reverend Adam Kirtley, the Stuart Coordinator of Religious and Spiritual Life at Whitman, officiated. Many of Laura’s friends introduced themselves as cousins or other relatives, demonstrating Laura’s unconditional love for others. Her immense impact on all of those with whom she interacted was apparent simply by surveying the scene at her memorial service.
Seattle Seahawks jerseys, sweatshirts, and hats replaced the typical funeral garb as the outfit of choice. Laura was an avid Seahawks fan, to the point of superstition. She always wore the same Seattle Seahawks jersey when cheering on the football team. In fact, she was buried in that jersey: and her Levis.

“Not just jeans: Levis. She was very particular,” said Laura’s close friend, Ginni Delavan.

Laura had recently begun playing football herself, through her fantasy football team Walla Blue. The fantasy football team became something of an obsession: Laura was competitive by nature.
The Walla Walla Women’s Invitational Pool League served as another outlet for her competitive tendencies. Her close friend Laura Webb guesses that she had been a member of the League for more than 15 years. At the time of her death, she was in her second year as League President.
Tracy Jones, a member of the Pool League, described Laura’s skill as a mediator.

“Oh boy, did she resolve some conflicts!” said Jones, emphasizing Laura’s diplomatic manner.

“She would stand up and say something when the rest of us couldn’t” commented Debbie Remillard, a fellow Pool League member.

Laura was born on Feb. 8, 1962 in Marengo, Iowa. She lived with her family in Iowa and then in Wisconsin before moving to Walla Walla in 1975. Walla Walla has been her home ever since.

She worked at Macy’s and then at D & K Cannery before arriving at Whitman in 1990. She started off working in Cordiner Hall and was later promoted to assistant custodial supervisor of Cordiner Hall.
Several years later, she gave up her post in Cordiner to work as a custodian in Maxey Hall. She made the switch so that she could work the day shift instead of the night shift: she wanted to be around people. Her daily shift in Maxey lasted from 4 A.M. until noon, giving her ample time to make friends.

“She was really happy in Maxey because she was around students and faculty. She felt appreciated,” explained Delavan.

Teresa Swiger, another member of the Pool League, agreed.

“Laura liked her job so much because she got to take care of people: she liked giving,” she said.
Lori Bettison-Varga, the Provost and Dean of Faculty at Whitman College, emphasized Laura’s dedication to Whitman and her immense pride in her work.

“This was more than just a job. Whitman was more than just a workplace: it was an integral part of her identity and life,” she explained.

Laura will be remembered for her outgoing personality, strong opinions and special quirks. Most importantly, though, she’ll be remembered for her generosity and the profound impact she had on everyone she met.

“She was one of those people that always wanted everything to be right: not just for one person, but for everybody,” explained Nina Hill, one of many that mourns Laura’s death but also celebrates her existence.

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