A light goes out in Paradise

Elizabeth Laurie

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Elected officials from towns around the Avalon are mourning the loss of a municipal colleague following the death of Paradise councillor Elizabeth Laurie on Monday at the age of 44.
Laurie was first elected to council in 2009, and in the 15 years since served a number of roles including as deputy mayor, and chair of various committees, including finance. Most recently, Laurie chaired the Town’s 10-year municipal plan committee.
The Paradise native grew up on Laurie Road in the town’s north end. Long before her term on council, the mother of two spent time volunteering with community groups.
Mayor Dan Bobbett referred to Laurie as a “pillar of our Town,” as well as one of his dearest friends.
“She provided me with honest and thoughtful advice, she challenged me when I needed it, she supported me during life’s hardships, and our families celebrated life’s milestones together,” Bobbett said in a statement (see page 6) following Laurie’s passing. “She lived life to the fullest and shared that joy with all around her.”
In a gesture of respect for Laurie’s family, the Town of Paradise cancelled its regular public meeting Tuesday. But her passing did not go unremarked in other council chambers throughout the region.
In Mount Pearl, the council observed a minute of silence in Laurie’s honour.
“I think we should acknowledge our colleague,” said Mayor Dave Aker. “We know how difficult this job is in terms of managing our health, our family lives, and our professional lives.”
Councillor Mark Rice also took a moment to reminisce on moments they’ve shared as professionals.
“She was a phenomenal person with such a young family with two young kids left,” said Rice. “Breaks my heart. I just want to pass my sincere condolences to her family and friends.”
Members of the Conception Bay South Town Council also shared stories in memory of the Paradise councillor.
Mayor Darrin Bent said he regarded Laurie as an inspiration in dignity and ferocity in how she “fought the disease right til the end. I think it sets a template for how to do it, and she will be missed,” he said.
Councillor Melissa Hardy said Laurie would glow whenever she walked into a room.
“You see this person walk in doing so much good for so many people and really just wanting to make a change for the world. It’s really hitting everyone hard,” she said. “She never backed down. Right to the last day, she did not back down.”
Deputy Mayor Andrea Gosse has a close connection to the Laurie family, having been “dear friends” with Laurie’s sister Paula for 35 years.
With the Chamberlain’s Pathfinders group happening to be in the gallery for a visit, Gosse reminisced on how Laurie’s “passion for community” started during her time in Girl Guides.
“That’s where it started,” she said. “She started as a Guider, and she was a trailblazer for women. It brought her to municipal politics. She was a strong advocate for equality, inclusion, and women in politics. Everything she did was forging a path for young women like the group we have tonight… There’s more doors open for you because of someone like Elizabeth Laurie. And she’s going to be greatly missed.”
Elizabeth Alexandra Marie Laurie was born September 26, 1979. Prior to serving on council, she worked in Alberta for a while as a construction surveyor. Later, and while a councillor in Paradise, Laurie worked full time for the provincial government as an engineering project coordinator. She is survived by her daughters Laurie and Grace, her husband Harold Furlong, her father James Laurie, sisters Paula Parsons, Pamela Rixon and Donnalee Braaten, mother-in-law, Sharon Furlong and a large circle of relatives, friends and admirers.
Laurie’s funeral Mass was set for Thursday at St. Edward’s Roman Catholic Church in Manuels.

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