Hospice caring for longtime clipper of Sun articles

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 11:57 p.m.

Laura Carmichael, known to many in North Central Florida for clipping and mailing articles from The Gainesville Sun for more than 50 years, was taken from her home by ambulance Monday afternoon and was under care at Haven Hospice in Gainesville Tuesday.

Details of the exact nature of her ailment were not released, but Haven issued a statement Tuesday afternoon concerning Carmichael, who turned 101 in November.

"Mrs. Laura Carmichael is currently being cared for by Haven Hospice in the E. T. York Hospice Care Center; a place she helped to create with her love and generosity. Her family and friends are overwhelmed by the number of inquiries received regarding her current condition.

"All of those who have loved her as we have will understand that our primary interest is to preserve her privacy and dignity during a very difficult time. When it is deemed appropriate, an official release concerning her status will be made. Rather than visiting Laura, we hope your thoughts and prayers will join ours in support of her."

It was in 1954 that Carmichael first began mailing clippings of obituaries to surviving loved ones, after she had received a similar clipping of her father's obituary. Eventually she shifted to happy news, and the envelopes from Carmichael continued to find their way to new parents, newly married couples and elementary school citizens of the month.

While she often jokingly vowed to retire her clipping scissors when first-class postage reached a dime, she continued to clip away in the 21st century, personally delivering bits of good news to people who were often surprised to have a gift from a stranger waiting.

While she lived modestly, her generosity was well-known to dozens of local organizations to which she quietly made donations. The gifts could be as small as a crisp dollar bill to a student of the month, or a sandwich bag of her famously delicious homemade peanut brittle, or as large as giving away her home and an acre of land near the University of Florida to provide seed money for what was then known as Hospice House.

Carmichael continued to drive her 17-year-old Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera during the day to the grocery store and to regular games of bridge with friends. On Sunday, as usual, she drove herself to services at First Baptist Church, where she'd been a member for 90 years.

A widow, her husband, Alachua County Clerk of the Court J.B. Carmichael, died in 1969. While she never had children, Carmichael had hundreds of friends. When Hospice hosted a 100th birthday celebration in 2005, the event drew a standing-room-only crowd and garnered a proclamation from Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan.

Carmichael, who enjoyed working behind the scenes rather than on center stage, confided at that time, "I enjoy other people's birthdays more than I do mine."

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