Laura Lou Bemus was not just a terrific educator, but an amazing sharing and giving person.
Her kids and ours grew up together, so we saw through more than 3 decades how this unique individual handled herself, her beliefs, her drive and always, always- building on her self-eternalized vision of how to make family life, classrooms or, in our case, the nationwide Kids Read Now program better. Better for all kids, parents and educators.
She was affiliated with Kids Read Now as a consultant for nearly all our ten years of serving children. Gently prodding us to change and expand what we did and how we could better reach, serve, and build reading skills for students.
Some know that when a good friend died unexpectedly, just after her husband passed; leaving Laura and Brad as (surprise!) guardians of her five kids, she didn’t dawdle, but buckled down and accepted them and their unique needs as a challenge of love and grace on top of her three.
Others know that she worked tirelessly in the background to assure Greenville schools had quality new facilities and the operating budget to better educate their rural community.
Our neighbors in Vandalia and Greenville know how diligently she worked the system to get every available nickel out of federal, state and local funds and budgets to constantly improve the services and educational results of ‘her’ kids; and that’s how she viewed every child in the districts she served.
We know how crisp, clear and cogent she could be presenting to educators from across the state, sharing her knowledge, experience, tricks and techniques so other administrators could work to be the best versions of themselves that they could be.
Despite these many ups and downs, and years of dealing (silently) with chronic knee pain; when her last battle of the body started; her faith and belief in God and his power and the potential for a better tomorrow never faltered; in fact it grew and flourished as the battle grew more and more intense. Through surgeries, painful treatments, and many ups and downs; her smiling outlook shone through; to us and to the hundreds of supporters on her Friends of Laura Bemus Facebook page where motivating messages of support from friends, family, colleagues and families of students kept up a steady tempo of positivity.
Over the years, at dinner with Brad and Laura; we could discuss kids, grandkids, students, schools and more in a never-ending round robin of news, issues and reflections on how this or that happened and how, as she said, it always happened as God intended and would work itself out.
But this. This is a very personal and painful time that deeply challenges our faith.
Cancer is the ultimate scourge that took my mom and sister, both younger than Laura; and has torn apart so many other lives. All we can do now is pray for her peace and love; as it does and will shine through. Forever.
Kids Read Now will welcome gifts in her honor, as we want to offer the Laura Bemus Summer Reading Classroom Scholarship grant to Greenville; where every student in one first grade class will get nine new books mailed home; books that have and will continue, we hope, to trigger and ignite the love of reading that was so near to her heart and soul.
Leib and Barb Lurie
Co-founders, Kids Read Now