Laura Mae Carpenter Kreider, 77, died peacefully on May 9, 2019. Laura Mae was married for nearly 58 years to Lester M Kreider who died on January 1, 2019. She is survived by 3 children: Jay (Kimberly Belzner); Rose; and Pearl (Michael Smith); and three grandchildren: Stacy (James Durborow II); Joshua; and Niko.
Laura Mae was preceded in death by her three brothers: Stanley (Thelma Landis); Sidney (Lena Kurtz); and Sterling (Rachel Wenger).
Laura Mae was the daughter of the late Leroy R. Carpenter and Mary G. Musselman Carpenter Graybill, and was raised on the family farm in Manheim, PA. Laura Mae's father died when she was 11, and she moved to Bareville when her mother married Floyd Graybill. After graduating from Lancaster Mennonite School, she and Lester married in 1961, before going to Washington, DC for Lester's 1-W/VS service. She worked as a nurse's aide at Washington Hospital Center.
During their 16 years in Baltimore, MD, Laura Mae was a stay-at-home mother who canned produce they raised in their garden and sewed clothes for her daughters and herself. She was an active member at Baltimore Mennonite Mission which later became Wilkins Avenue Mennonite Church. She was part of a women's Bible study, taught Sunday School and summer Bible school, and participated in a women's prison ministry. In 1979, the family moved to Lancaster county, where she was an active member of Erisman Mennonite Church. She enjoyed working with preschool children in their LIFT program. Later, she treasured her time with her grandchildren.
Laura Mae loved music and made sure her children learned to play the piano as well as another instrument, in addition to singing in the chorus at school. She often played the piano while the family sang together. She organized regular family gatherings, where her children and grandchildren enjoyed her homemade whole wheat bread, strawberry jam, and creamed corn, along with many other treats. Laura Mae loved learning, developing various skills such as flower arranging and calligraphy. She often saved newspaper articles she thought family members would find interesting. Each family member looked forward to these 'clippings,' as her knowledge of their interests showed her care for them. Her family and friends will miss the love and support she expressed through her encouraging phone calls and cards. Laura Mae was active in the prayer shawl ministry and gave generously to many charities.
She enjoyed connecting with childhood friends, when she once again joined East Petersburg Mennonite church in which she was raised. She greatly appreciated the support of the East Pete community during her and Lester's illnesses this past year. Laura Mae dealt with chronic back pain and osteoporosis for decades before her health declined rapidly following surgery in April for a broken hip.
In the days before she passed, she told multiple visitors that she wanted to go home and wanted to see Lester. Over the nearly 60 years between their first and last dates, they fell in love, laughed together, prayed together, sang together, and supported each other through health and sickness. Their first date was around 1959 on a Sunday evening at Carpenter's Mennonite church. Their last date was lunch at Oregon house followed by some time at the model train display on Christmas day 2018.
We are deeply grateful to the staff at LGH, and Landis Homes, especially Cedar House and Conestoga House, for their expert and gentle care for Laura Mae and her family over the past months.
A memorial service will be held at Landis Homes West Bethany Chapel, 1001 E. Oregon Rd., Lititz, on Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m. There will be two opportunities to greet the family: Friday, May 17 6-8 p.m. and Saturday, May 18 2-3 p.m., both at the West Bethany Chapel. Interment will be held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Mennonite Central Committee, Eastern Mennonite Mission, and Camp Andrews, Holtwood, PA.