Remembering a life of kindness


On their way into Laura Carmichael's funeral at First Baptist Church, Tammy Eddy and her children Laura and Kyle sign one of the guest books. The funeral was held Monday afternoon and many gathered to remember Carmichael, who lived to be 101.

LIBBY GREENE/Special to the Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 11:31 p.m.

Laura Carmichael lived 101 years filled with kindness toward others. It was returned to her Monday as several hundred people whom she touched said goodbye at her funeral.

"The prophet Mohammed once said a person's true wealth is the good that he or she does in the world. By this measure Laura was truly a wealthy person because she did much good," said E.T. York, former Florida university system chancellor.

Carmichael died Wednesday at Haven Hospice, and her funeral was held Monday at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, which she began attending as a young girl when the church was at its original location on E. University Avenue.

Thousands of people have been touched by Carmichael through her clippings — she snipped out good-news Gainesville Sun articles such as profiles, accomplishments and wedding announcements and mailed them to the subjects of the stories.

The Rev. John Fairless of First Baptist asked everyone in the audience who had gotten a clipping from Carmichael to raise their hand. Very few had not.

Carmichael also was active in community organizations. A block of pink-smocked members of the Shands at AGH auxiliary sat in the front of the sanctuary along with a contingent from the Dogwood Circle of the Gainesville Garden Club — two organizations to which she belonged.

She was also a member of the Gainesville Woman's Club and was recognized with The Gainesville Sun Community Service Award in 1976 and as a Santa Fe Community College Woman of Distinction in 1997.

Several speakers noted that Carmichael loved flowers: gardens at the E.T. York Hospice Care Center — to which she provided seed money — are named for her.

"Laura loved flowers," said Dr. Robert McCollough of Haven Hospice. "One of the most delightful things to do was to take some flowers to Laura. As she opened the door, she would say, 'For me?' … and then she would say 'These are the most beautiful flowers I've every seen.' Then you would sit down and she would offer you tea."

"Laura believed and worked in the hospice movement," McCollough said. "And Laura rested her labors in a room overlooking the garden that she helped bring to life."

The effect Carmichael had on others was expressed in letters written by former Gainesville resident Dr. Judy Ahrano, a pediatrician who now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and read by Patrice Moore.

Moore said Carmichael asked that one of the letter's from Ahrano, who was taught in Sunday school by Carmichael, be read at the funeral.

"It meant so much to me over the years of my growing up to have you as a teacher and to have your on-going interest, which was demonstrated by your clippings and your notes," Ahrano wrote. "You are a person I have often thought of and tried to emulate in passing on that special interest to young children and to young adults, which adds a little to the flame of your own inner strength and spirit."

Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com

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