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Obituary: Lorraine Laird: March 8, 1920 – June 11, 2014

Mary Lorraine Lardner Laird was born in Auburn, California, on March 8, 1920. She

was the fifth of twelve children born to Amonda Johnson and William Branson Lardner,

Jr. As a third generation Californian, Lorraine was proud of her family roots, especially

so of her grandfather Bill Lardner who was a teacher, attorney, California State

Senator, and one of the founding fathers of the City of Auburn. Early in life Lorraine

learned many important lessons that come with living, working, and sharing life in an

agricultural-based community during The Depression. When asked, Lorraine would

remember the tough times her family experienced as “not so bad, because we didn’t

know at the time, and only found out afterwards that we were poor.”

Lorraine attended local schools and graduated from Placer High School in

1938. Always a top student, she was active in student government, the Commerce

Club, played bass clarinet as well as being the drum majorette in the marching band.

She went on to earn her AA degree from Placer Junior College in 1940, where she

pursued business and journalism classes, and enjoyed activities with the Women’s

Athletic Association and Ski Club. She graduated with honors.

In high school, Lorraine worked as a soda jerk at Sather’s Restaurant to help with family

finances. After college she was a secretary and bookkeeper for PG&E.

Lorraine had five good-looking sisters that attracted a number of suitors to the house.

Many times she would joke that, “We didn’t need a phone for getting dates, guys would

just come to the house hoping that one of us girls would go out with them.” One such

guy, Dean (Diz) Laird of Loomis, saw Lorraine as “the prettiest girl in town,” and the

young couple started dating in high school. They married on December 5, 1942, in

Reno during Diz’s 15-day leave granted after completion of flight training as a Navy

fighter pilot.

Being a Navy family, the Lairds relocated their home 20 different times prior to 1958.

The task of moving and settling in, getting their three children, Diane, Michael and

Andrea, adjusted to leaving old friends and starting new schools became a way of life

for Lorraine until being transferred to Coronado 56 years ago.

At age 55, Lorraine was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and given 21/2

months to live. Seven months later the doctors could not believe she was still alive

and free of all signs of the disease. Lorraine’s will to live was only surpassed by Diz’s

determination to cure his wife and keep her by his side.

Over the past 50 years, Diz and Lorraine traveled extensively. They visited China,

Egypt, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Russia, Australia, Japan, the UK, Korea, France,

and traveled through the Panama Canal. As a proud “Acette,” Lorraine would

accompany her husband on trips organized by the American Fighter Aces that took

them to international venues where combat airmen gathered to share their military


Throughout her long life, Lorraine was accomplished at many things, but most of all

she excelled at being a “Navy Wife” and incredible mother. She was a gourmet cook,

seamstress, interior decorator, homemaker and excellent bookkeeper. She supported

her husband’s career and encouraged her children’s dreams. She was a loyal and

devoted friend. But what Lorraine enjoyed most was her wonderful large family, an

opportunity to gamble, and shopping for anything on sale! She was as kind as she was

glamorous, and if you had the privilege to be in her company for long, you’d discover

her wicked sense of humor. Lorraine was as stylish as any movie star and as funny and

direct as Maxine of Hallmark fame.

Once while attending a function at the Hotel del Coronado, the president of the New

York Life Insurance Company complained to Lorraine that the noise from North

Island’s flight operations were interfering with his ability to socialize during cocktail

hour. Lorraine assured the annoyed guest that she would call the base commander and

insist that he stop the interruption immediately. Within five minutes, the noise stopped

and all the planes had landed. Lorraine never confessed that, after many years living

under the flight path, she knew precisely when air ops ended on Saturday nights!

Her family and friends will greatly miss those twinkling eyes, quick wit and smile!

Lorraine is survived by her husband of 711/2 years, Cdr. Dean Laird; two younger sisters,

Claire Vanderbilt and Lynette Weeks; her children, Michael Laird (Clare) and Andrea

Laird Achelis (Scott); eight grandchildren, Christopher, Gregory, Daniel and Jonathan

Miller; Sherryn Laird Henrikson; Michele Laird McCormack; Eric and Dean Achelis; and

6 great grandchildren.

A celebration of Lorraine’s life will be held on Monday, July 21 at 2 pm, at the Coronado

Golf Course Clubhouse.

Coronado Times Staff
Coronado Times Staff
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