|Death: ||Jul. 4, 2009|
Laurie Anne Mezzalingua, an outspoken advocate for breast cancer survivors, died peacefully at her parents home in Fayetteville surrounded by her family on July 4, 2009. She was 41 years old. A beloved daughter, sister, aunt and friend, Laurie courageously battled breast cancer for twelve years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29 in 1997. She refocused her career to fight this disease and became a passionate advocate of patient support. Her leadership skills were quickly called into action when she became president of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for two years and served on its board for six years. She also chaired the Race for the Cure event twice. Her involvement was so forceful that the national office in Dallas took notice and in 2005, honored her with the National Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Outstanding Volunteer Award. Armed with this experience and an understanding of how to serve others through this volunteer work, Laurie set her sights on philanthropy, establishing the Saint Agatha Foundation, named for the patron saint of breast diseases. The Saint Agatha Foundation benefits breast cancer patients "who cannot afford their illness" as Laurie said. In the four years since its inception, Laurie distributed over two million dollars, to help serve those in need. This foundation is her legacy and is funded in a way that will continue to impact lives for decades to come. Prior to her diagnosis, Laurie was active in PPC, her family's business. She served in a variety of roles and was most proud of founding president of Kajola Kristada, a manufacturing company based in the Carribean on the island of St. Kitts, W.I. It remains today the largest manufacturer on the island. Her work in St. Kitts led to the family's involvement in immaculate Conception Roman Catholic church in the island capital, Basseterre and the 600 student K-11 school, by funding a building to house a library and learning studies programs appropriately named by her family, The Laurie Mezzalingua Resource Center. From this initial building came a commitment from Laurie and her family to build a new school on the existing property. When completed in 2011 the campus will have eight completed buildings and tuition assistance. She had an unusual gift of expressing herself in her speeches and in her writing with grace, feeling and clarity. Many had an opportunity to be stirred by her words. She was named 2005 Citizen of the Year by Temple Adath Yeshuran, and was the 2006 commencement speaker at Manlius Pebble Hill School. At both occasions she spoke movingly about the ability to see the remarkable in her cancer diagnosis. She said "There is more beauty, triumph and truth in an infusion room than you will ever see on a stage, in a stadium, or in a song." Born in Manlius, NY on June 10, 1968, Laurie was the third child in a family of six children. A lifelong leaner, she was a 1986 graduate of Manlius Pebble Hill and Boston University ion 1980 where she double majored in Chinese History and Communications. She loved music all her life and most recently studied piano, she played her first recital in 2005. She was a self taught and gifted video editor who created landmark moments of her family and friends' lives as moving tributes. Her favorite subjects were her nieces and nephews. She was a favorite among her family and friends to be godmother to their children, earning that honor six times. She loved the authenticity and kindness of children and connected with them at levels not ordinarily seen. This enthusiasm led her parents in 2005 to gift a building which houses all of the Pre-K and Kindergarten programs on the Manlius Pebble Hill Campus and was named the Laurie Mezzalingua Early Education Center. She was loved as she was loving. "Everything she did was from the heart", said Msgr. Yeazel, her pastor at Holy Cross Church. "I would visit to provide support in her final days, and she would ask "What can I do for you?" Her sense of humor and compassion resulted in instant connections with people she knew and those she just met. Most referred to her as "my younger sister". Laurie's devotion to God and her enduring faith brought her peace. Her daily prayers always began with an expression of gratitude for all her blessings and acceptance of her disease. She was comforted in the knowledge that she would be welcomed by her family and friends who went before her. A highlight of her recent life were her pilgrimages to Our Lady's Shrine in Lourdes, France where she traveled and volunteered helping the sick with the Order of Malta. Her departure on the Fourth of July was symbolic. She was an elegant and independent woman who charted her own course in life. She had the courage to challenge her western doctors for more than they were able to give, the grace to accept their limitations, and the will to proceed into alternative Chinese therapies which gave her six more years. She led a beautiful life. Laurie is survived by her parents, Daniel and Kathleen Mezzalingua; three sister, Karen, Kristen and her husband, peter McKenna, and Tracy; two brothers, John and his wife Kimberly and Daniel; nine nieces and nephews; several aunts, uncles and cousins. She also leaves her two loyal and dear friends, Gail Cawley and Kathryn Lahey. Her funeral will be a celebration of Laurie's life and will be Friday, July 10 at Holy Cross Church, 4112 E. Genesee St., DeWitt, NY. Interment will be at Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Fayetteville. Calling hours will be Thursday, July 9 from 4 - 7 pm at Holy Cross Church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to saint Agatha Foundation, c/o Convergent Wealth Advisors, 150 N. Radnor Chester Rd., Suite 100, Radnor, PA 19807.
Published by the Schepp Family Funeral Home and in The Syracuse Post Standard on 7/7/2009
Immaculate Conception Cemetery
New York, USA
Created by: Frank K.
Record added: Jul 07, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 39188508