After a two and a half year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Historic City News was informed that 58-year-old Laurie Bennett Ellis of St. Augustine died Saturday, March 22, 2014, at the Haven Hospice Care Center in Orange Park.
Before moving to Florida, she taught school in Kelso, Washington, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Bow, New Hampshire. She was employed by the St Johns County School District; for four years at the Center for Arts at Murray Middle School, and, for the last four school years at Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Rawlings Elementary School.
Laurie Ellis was born on September 23, 1955, in Brookline, Massachusetts to Carol Bennett and the late Irving “Jack” Bennett. She grew up in North Easton and graduated, magna cum laude, from Curry College. She earned her master’s degree from Tufts University. She served on Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s Reading Initiative Task Force.
She is survived by her husband, Peter, of St. Augustine; her son, Jared D’Amico, also of St. Augustine; her mother, of Concord, NH; three sisters, Kim Zueli of California City, California, Karen Mark of North Easton and Kris LaBrake of Concord; a cousin, Dr. Pam Burke of Reading, Massachusetts; four nieces; three nephews; and many dear friends, including Dr. Mary Jones of Harrisburg, SD, and Patsy Butler-Gratzfeld of Sioux Falls. Her husband and son were her principal caregivers.
Before her death, she gave money to PVPV/Rawlings Elementary to start a book collection that she hoped would encourage students to develop a lifelong love of reading. She also established a scholarship in her name for high-performing students who want to become teachers.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2 at Christ Episcopal Church, 400 San Juan Dr, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082. A mass of Christian Burial will be held in her hometown of North Easton, Mass., at a later date. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery in St. Augustine.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to: ALS Research, In care of Dr. Kevin Boylan, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Road South, Jacksonville, FL 32224.
The family thanks Haven Hospice, Mayo Clinic, the ALS Association of Florida and the Council on Aging for their help; as well as their neighbors, people in the St. Johns County School System, the St. Augustine Record, and their many friends for their support and kindness. St. Johns Family Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.