Obituary: Katherine Ann Lawrence Oct. 27, 1947 – Nov. 25, 2019

KATHERINE ANN LAWRENCE Oct. 27, 1947 Nov. 25, 2019

Katherine Ann Lawrence, age 72, passed out of this world at her home on November 25, 2019, following a stroke in late September.

Her final days were spent in her beautiful home, cared for by her husband, sons, mother, sister, brothers, and close friends, We loved her very much, and it has been so terribly hard to say goodbye.

Kathy’s story began in New Haven, Connecticut, where she was born, the second of six children, to Stephanie and Stephen Sydoriak on October 27, 1947, the second of what was to be six children.  Her parents, first-generation Ukrainian-Americans were then graduate students in physics at Yale University. In 1948, the family moved to Los Alamos, where her father, Steve did cryogenics research at the Laboratory.

Kathy grew up in the Western Area, attending nearby Mesa Primary, then Pueblo Junior High, and finally Los Alamos High School, where she graduated with honors in 1965. In Junior High, she became engaged in creative crafts: dolls, dollhouses, period rooms with miniature furniture, and Ukrainian Easter Eggs. With considerable research, she made the doll clothes to exact period specifications. Her work became outstanding, winning prizes at local and state exhibitions. Kathy also became the driving force behind the annual Sydoriak family musicals – writing, organizing, and whispering forgotten lines to her younger siblings.

Unfortunately, Kathy inherited a severe life handicap in the form of clinical depression.  Her parents worked with several psychiatrists over the years to help her overcome it and succeed in life, but it continued a major struggle. After high school, she focused her energy and talent into the world of miniatures. In 1966 she volunteered at the then-developing Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe, where she restored retablos and bultos. She made miniature copies of these works, which sold at the museum shop. She later worked with Alexander Girard at his studio, restoring materials for his fantastic folk dioramas and displays, which she helped set up at the museum. In her own workshop, she also created a detailed scale model of the beautiful Santuario de Chimayo altar, which was commissioned by a collector friend of Spanish colonial-arts-scholar E. Boyd.

In 1966, Kathy met her husband George, then a recently-arrived young Los Alamos Lab physicist, in the International Folk Dancing group led by Don and Alice Liska.  Kathy and George felt an immediate attraction that quickly extended beyond dancing. They were married on October 4, 1968, honeymooning in San Francisco.

Soon after moving into a newly-built home in White Rock, they had two sons, David and Stephen, in quick succession.  Kathy turned out to be a wonderful full-time mom, and while depression always hovered in the darkness, she persevered with great courage.  With George’s and her family’s support, she raised her two children into the amazing and successful human beings that they have now long been. All too soon, David and Stephen were away in college at UCSD, giving Kathy more time to focus on the crafts she loved. Taking up quilting, with the help of increasingly sophisticated sewing machines, she became a master quilter, piling her energy into a growing number of projects, many of which became sensational gifts to family members.

In 1993, when new residential lots became available near the Guaje Pines Cemetery, Kathy jumped at the opportunity to build her dream home in the forest. She took the lead in working with a local designer to come up with a beautiful house with a big wooded yard  – perfect for living, crafting, and family gatherings.  She and George have loved being there for the past nearly 25 years.

Kathy’s battle with depression caught up with her in the new century, and led to declining physical health. Decades-long antidepressant meds caused deterioration of kidney function. Although this was turned around in 2006 by a transplant from son David, a sequence of other health problems followed over the years, resulting in various physical handicaps.  But 2012 marked the arrival of wonderful grandson Dmitri, sparking a passion for internet gift searches at birthdays and Christmas.  Quilting continued in the face of the handicaps, and despite everything, this was a mostly happy time.

Kathy, our much loved wife, mother, and daughter is survived by: her husband George Lawrence of Los Alamos, NM; son David Lawrence of Boulder, CO; son Stephen Lawrence of Salt Lake City, UT; mother Stephanie Sydoriak of Los Alamos, NM; brothers Sid Sydoriak of Los Alamos, NM, Eugene Sydoriak of Spokane, WA, Walter Sydoriak of Ashland, OR; sister Chris Sydoriak of Longmont, CO; and grandson Dmitri Lawrence of Salt Lake City, UT.

A memorial celebration of Kathy’s life will be held at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos on Saturday January 18, 2020, at 2:00 pm.