Laurena Winifred Kennison was born on April 24th, 1930 to Harry Alvin and Edna Winifred (Weaver) Kennison in Wallowa, Oregon. She was named after her Uncle Billy Kennison’s wife. (Billy had passed away in 1922.) Laurena was the youngest of three children, joining her sister Shirley and her brother Harry in the family.
When Laurena was only four years old, her dad passed away of a sudden heart attack in December of 1934. The family struggled on until 1940 when Laurena’s mom married Trell Coleman. Laurena was almost ten years old at the time and Trell was a wonderful stepdad.
(Laurena, age 13)
Laurena went to Wallowa High School, graduating in 1948. I think that the first photo above is her senior picture. I love that her signature is on it.
As soon as Laurena graduated from high school, she married Ray Thomas Vance. The wedding took place on the 23rd of May, 1948. Laurena was eighteen years old.
Nine years later the couple was blessed a son, Kenton.
(Ray and Laurena celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary.)
The couple had moved to Alaska fairly early in their marriage, I believe.
I did find two little mentions of her in the Sitka, Alaska newspaper.
From the Sitka Daily Sentinel, Sitka Alaska – September 1, 1982
Laurena Vance will speak on the importance of nutrition in the treatment of alcoholism.
Then, May 5th, 1983:
Discussion leader will be Laurena Vance, SCAODA outpatient supervisor.
SCAODA is the State Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Laurena and Ray divorced at some point, but I’m not sure the dates on that either.
Laurena was living in Salem, Oregon when she passed away. She had a form a leukemia and I remember that she had been tired, bone weary, really. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with leukemia only a couple of short weeks before she passed away. She was 72 years old and passed away on the 16th of March, 2003 just shy of her 73rd birthday.
I personally barely remember Laurena and Ray, except for some reason I can clearly remember the raspy sound of my Aunt Laurena’s voice and her laugh. There are a lot of holes that I’m hoping family members can fill in with Laurena’s story. Can you help? Please either leave a comment here or send me a private message. Thank you!
(Laurena is my great-aunt. She is my dad’s mother’s sister.)
“Her hair was naturally curly as was Edna Weaver Kennison’s hair.” ~ Kara Kennison