In memory of

Laurie E. Skillman, age 57, of Helena

May 31, 1960 – November 7, 2017

Laurie was born in Milton, Pennsylvania. She was the third of four daughters for Tom and Virginia (Corky) Powell. She became a veterinarian technician, a phlebotomist in the US Army for 4 years, and then got a degree as a Medical Technologist at Bloomsburg College.  That led to a position in the Microbiology Lab at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where she met her eventual husband, Don Skillman.  Laurie became a published expert on mycobacterium and fungi, and eventually became the “Teaching Tech” at Walter Reed, educating everyone on new diagnostic strategies to identify dangerous germs.

In 1994 Don and Laurie moved to Denver.  Their son, Andrew, was born there.  In 1996 it was on to El Paso where their second son, Ben, was born. Laurie worked in the Microbiology Lab in the Army Medical Centers in both cities. In 2001 they moved back to Maryland and Walter Reed.  Helena, Montana has been their home since 2006.  Here, Laurie has worked in the Montana State Health Lab.

Always, Laurie was deeply involved in her church and totally dedicated to her family.  The boys are both in college (“killing it”) with bright futures. She loved her stepson Brad and his wife Laura.  She found amazing and special delight in our granddaughter, Stella. Although her life was much too brief, there is still far too much to include in an obituary. She hiked almost every day with our labradoodle (who was born on her birthday!), she read hundreds and hundreds of silly romance novels, and she had a cup of hot tea with me every morning.  Laurie sent beautiful and intricate homemade cards to scores of people on every occasion.  Nearly all have been cherished and saved by the recipient. She decorated the entire house for each holiday, planted flowers everywhere, and loved to sing in the church choir.

My cherished companion for over 25 years, Laurie suffered an unexpected and devastating hemorrhagic stroke on Nov 6.  She donated her heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys to unknown strangers. This is just a sprinkle of the incredible and wonderful person that Laurie was, and an illustration of the grace and thoughtful giving that radiated from her life. In addition to all those mentioned above, Laurie is survived by three sisters, three brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and a big bunch of nieces, nephews, and the next generation after them.

Whenever I sent a card or letter to Laurie, it was signed at the bottom with the words “Forever and Ever”.  It felt like a nice sentiment to remind her of how long I planned to love her and to be with her.  Much to my horror and relentless anguish, I discovered that “Forever and Ever” can come to an unexpected, numbingly painful end far, far too soon.

For Laurie, I ask you to look to your left or look to your right, and tell the person or people sitting with you how much you value their friendship, how much joy they bring to your life, and how much you cherish being with them. Do this often, constantly even, wherever you go – for yourself as well as for the recipient of your words.  You can never know when it might be your last chance to say, “I love you, Forever and Ever.”

A funeral service will be held at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 14th at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 512 Logan St. A reception will follow the memorial service at the church. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Mission Team Fund at St Paul’s United Methodist Church, 512 Logan Street, Helena, MT. 59601. Please visit Please visit below to offer her family a condolence or to share a memory of Laurie.


Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Caroline Dorworth Fukuda says:

    Laurie was an angel on earth. No doubt, she is soaring in the heavens. I will miss her handmade birthday, Christmas, and other cards. Her notes were reminders of her care for her friends and family.
    She still hoped to visit us in Thailand. She left this world way too early in her years.
    We are all better people for knowing Laurie.

    Don, Brad, Ben, and Andrew, my sincerest sympathy.
    You will always carry the love and care that your mom was known for.
    With love,

  2. Angela Behr says:

    I am so sad and am still in shock knowing that Laurie has passed. She was always so helpful and kind and we became good friends in the choir at St. Paul’s. I sat next to her knowing she would help me with the music. I will miss her and with a heavy heart pray for Don and sons. She left them way to early. I will sing at her memorial service and honor her at St. Paul remembering her kind and loving nature.

    Love Angela Behr

  3. Tom Naegele says:

    Don & Family,
    My Prayers of Love and Support to you all. A Beautiful soul is with Our Lord and I Celebrate the Blessing of having Laurie in my life. Peace & Tranquility

  4. Janice Glass says:

    Elizabeth, Emily and I are all heartbroken for you. We feel so lucky to have known Laurie and experienced her kindness. She loved her family deeply and was so proud of you, Andrew and Ben.

  5. Suzanne (Morris) Middleton says:

    My heartfelt sympathy to you, Don, and your sons and extended families. Laurie and I worked together as she trained me in the TB lab at WRAMC in the early 1990’s. She was an incredible teacher and I learned so much from her. She turned me on to country music, which she had tuned in on the radio in the TB lab. I never liked any sort if country music until Laurie made me listen to it every day for the 3 months I trained under her. She left much too soon, however what she leaves behind is more than most people have if they lived to be 100. My prayers are with your family.

  6. Alice Ann Hartzel Parsons says:

    Don & Family,
    I’m so sorry for your loss of Laurie. We grew up together in Milton. We were also cousins.
    I last saw her when her Mom died. I always looked forward to receiving your Christmas letter wrapped in a card Laurie had made. She left us far too soon, but so glad she was able to help others even in death. May God wrap all of you in His arms & bring you some comfort that she’s’ in Heaven & you’ll see her again.
    Sending Love & Prayers to all of you.
    Alice Ann Hartzel Parsons

  7. Perry Brown says:

    Don & Family,
    As I came into St. Paul’s for Wednesday night dinner with two pies I promised Laurie for the auction and was told she had passed, one could have blown me over with a feather. It was a great pleasure to have known such a LADY. Her time on the trip to Israel that I was a part of, and being around her on various church activities will be a cherished memory.
    May those good memories live on.
    God be with you,
    Perry L. Brown

  8. Marlene Caravello says:

    Laurie started out as a customer of mine many years ago (I do classes on card making and also sell the products to make cards), but Laurie was never just a customer to me. I immediately felt a kinship with her. She felt more like a younger sister to me. She was always smiling and friendly to others…always wanting to help in anyway. Her cards were amazing and her enthusiasm for making cards was passed on to all of us (Laurie belonged to our card making club of local ladies). She will be missed but never ever forgotten! We all loved Laurie! Everyone shares in my wishes that the family’s memories of Laurie bring them comfort and peace and that the passing of time heals this wound.
    Our thoughts and prayers are for Don and the family,
    Marlene Caravello

  9. Donna Jackson Turcott says:

    Dear Don and Family, We first met Laurie when we joined St. Paul’s and took the Amazing Grace class with you and Laurie. We were always impressed by her gentle nature and kindness to all the people she met. We could tell that she loved to sing and appreciated the bond that she had with others in the choir. Over the years she was one of those friendly faces that we looked forward to seeing each Sunday. We will miss her.
    Our prayers are with you,
    Gary and Donna Turcott

  10. Beth McLaughlin and Kevin McRae says:

    Don and family,

    We were very sad to read about Laurie’s untimely death. She was such a lovely neighbor – always taking the time to stop and let the girls pet the giant labradoodle (who seemed to be walking Laurie). We are so very sorry for your loss and have you in our thoughts.

    Beth McLaughlin, Kevin McRae and family

  11. Francie and my lil 10yr old son Russell Faubion says:

    Dear Don and family I am Laura’s cousin her mother and my mother were cousins . We went to the same schools and graduated Milton area high school .We have Many childhood memories one being at a campsite Fort Boone my grandparents discovered and all of us camped there throughout our childhood. I felt drawn to her And her family with Our faith in our dear Lord God And has had huge imprint throughout my adult life and now with my 10 year old son. I know our God has his loving arms wrapped around her and holding her with love and Solace and peace. God-bless you all .

  12. Don /Ruth Keller says:

    We are so sorry hear about your wife and pray you will have comfort with your memories.
    You are in our thoughts.

  13. Dwight and Roxanne Hiesterman says:

    Dr. Skillman and family,
    My wife and I extend our sincere condolences to you and your family. We pray that God will wrap his comforting arms around you in this time of sorrow to help your family and those close to your wife Laurie.
    Peace and blessings,

  14. Tamara Hintz says:

    I was sadden and shocked to hear about Laurie’s death. I had just seen in church a couple weeks ago and she seemed happy, healthy, and smiley. I didn’t know her well but when I lost my Dad this summer. She stopped me in stairwell at church and asked me How I was doing and that she was sorry to hear about my Dad passing and I thought that was so thoughtful of her.

  15. Laurie was a complete stranger to me, however if an obituary can ever be “great”, what a great one Laurie must’ve deserved! It sounds like she truly lived her life to the fullest, doing what she loved; considerate of and giving to others.
    May happy memories give this family strength in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you for sharing Laurie’s life! Those who knew her are certainly richer because of it!

  16. Shelley Stiles says:

    I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Words cannot begin to express the pain you must be feeling with Laurie’s untimely death. God promises that soon he will “swallow up death forever and wipe away tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8). We have the hope of being reunited with our loved ones again right here on earth by means of a resurrection promised to us in Acts 24:15. What a joy it will be to be able to see and hold our loved ones once again! Until that time, keep close to your hearts all your cherished memories to help sustain your grief. May the “God of All Comfort” be with you in this time of great sadness. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

  17. Marci & Steve Lynn says:

    Dear Don and Family,
    We have been traveling and only recently became aware of Laurie’s passing. Please accept our heart felt condolences for your tremendous loss.

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