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Life Story / Obituary
With an enduring spirit and a servant's heart, Lucille Helene (Preston) Denney-Laur lived a life filled with service, family, and adventure. Lucille was intelligent, strong, and outspoken. She never hesitated to give her gifts and talents in service of others nor share her strong opinions. She was loving, a hard worker, and a dependable source of support for all who knew her. Lucille loved adventure, especially when traveling with loved ones or playing a game of golf. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, nurse, and friend, Lucille lived a wholehearted life, inspiring many along the way. Surely, Lucille will long be remembered and so very missed.
The 1920s were an age of dramatic social and political change. Post-war peace, a booming economy, rising wages for most Americans, and falling consumer prices gave rise to a higher standard of living for most. The world quickly changed with the inventions of wash machines, vacuum cleaners, the band-aid, and the first automobile with a combustion engine. Tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts marked this roaring decade when a person’s success was largely determined by their ability to identify their desires and then work to make them a reality. Locally, this vibrant decade grew even brighter in Lowell, Michigan, as Vernon and Emma (Hesche) Preston welcomed their daughter Lucille into their family on January 5, 1924.
The eldest of the Prestons’ seven children, Lucille grew up on the family’s farm near Lowell. Along with her siblings, Calvin, Edith, Ken, Shirley “Sarge,” Ruth, and June, Lucille walked to a one-room country school for her early education. She also helped with chores. The family raised corn, hay, and livestock while also tending a small orchard and large garden. Family life was centered on faith, and the family attended the Methodist Church in Lowell. Lucille was smart and a very good student, proudly graduating from Lowell High School. She continued her education by attending Butterworth Nursing School and later earned her master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Like many in her generation, Lucille answered the call to serve her country during World War II. As an Army cadet, she hoped to be stationed somewhere warm. Instead, she was stationed at Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek. Tragedy struck when her brother Calvin was killed in action. As she had been very close to her brother, his loss and the realities of war majorly impacted her.
While working at the Army hospital in Detroit, Lucille met her future husband, Thayer Denney, while riding the bus. Instantly drawn to Thayer, a wounded veteran, it didn’t take long for the pair to begin dating and set their hearts on sharing the future. After marrying, Lucille and Thayer were blessed to welcome four sons to their family. While Richard, Ron, Mike, and Roger were her heart’s delight, Lucille was always a nurse. She was a loving mother, but her parenting always came from a nursing perspective. Lucille worked the second shift at Butterworth hospital, in the Emergency Room, surgical department, and as a charge nurse in administration. Her schedule meant she was always home to greet the boys when they arrived from school. She also administered the boys’ shots and expertly nursed all their ailments. While raising their family in Standale, they first attended Valley Avenue Methodist Church and, later, St John’s Church. When her son Dick served in Vietnam, her heart ached with worry. Her deepest fears, rooted in the loss of her brother, were softened when Dick safely arrived home after completing his service.
Sadly, Thayer was diagnosed with colon cancer. With signature style and skill, Lucille took great care of him, ensuring his needs were met and that he was as comfortable as possible. Despite her heroic efforts, he died in 1984. Years later, fate gifted Lucille another chance at love with her long-time friend, widower William Laur. She and William married on Dick and Joy’s back deck in 1992 and enjoyed many traveling and golfing adventures. They made an adventure of driving the entire east coast to Florida. Unfortunately, Bill had many health issues and died in 2010.
After retiring, Lucille continued to use nursing skills and serve her community. She volunteered at the hospital, hospice, and Beacon Light nursing home in Marne. She also enjoyed having more time to golf and travel. She golfed three days a week, well into her 90s! Her passion for finding lost golf balls doubled her enjoyment of playing the game. Over the years, she enjoyed many memorable trips visiting national parks, driving the east coast to Florida, and traveling to Hawaii. She also enjoyed epic trips to Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands. She even traveled at the age of 94 to Australia to visit her granddaughter. Lucille’s long life was no accident. She worked hard at being healthy. She exercised regularly and consciously ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. She participated in the exercise group at her church too.
Whether camping, hiking, canoeing, or visiting lighthouses, Lucille embraced every moment with strength, curiosity, wonder, and gratitude. Lucille confidently faced life’s hardships and fully celebrated its joys. In doing so, she proved a powerful role model for how to live a full and heart-centered life filled with love, generosity, and care. And while life certainly feels less certain in the absence of her steadfast companionship, we will find much comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward.
Lucille H. Denney-Laur, age 99, passed away March 4, 2023, with her loving family by her side. Lucille was born January 5, 1924, in Lowell, MI, to the late Vernon and Emma (Hesche) Preston. Also preceding her in death are her husbands, Thayer Denney and William Laur; grandsons, Robbert Denney and Matthew Denney; and great-grandson, Justin Kaczmarczyk; siblings, Calvin Preston, Edith Zerfes, and Shirley “Sarge” Preston. A member of Faith United Methodist Church, Lucille is survived by her sons, Dick (Joy) Denney of Baldwin, Ron (Cathie) Denney of Lake Odessa, Mike (Linda) Denney of Rockford, Roger (Shelly) Denney of Lawrenceville, GA; 16 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren; and 3 great-great-grandchildren. Also surviving are her siblings, Ken Preston, Ruth Cannon, and June Plume; and many nieces and nephews. According to her wishes, cremation has taken place. Memorials may be made to Emmanuel Hospice. To read more of Lucille’s life story and leave a memory or condolence, please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.