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Lori Lamb Legacy Grant

Lori D. Lamb
(1959-2010)

Understanding why the life of Lori Lamb is deserving of memorializing by establishing a community-supported fund entitled The Lori Lamb Legacy Grant, to motivate and assist Macksville High School scholar-athletes, is best explained by excerpts from the Eulogy Larry Fenwick delivered at her funeral. The following words are from the eulogy, with photographs shared by her family and friends.

As the first-born of the “Three Lamb Girls,” Lori presented a challenge to the untried parenting skills of Doug and Linda. At the age of nine months, her independent spirit turned meal time into a battle ground. After a few weeks of this meal-time mayhem, her mom handed Lori the spoon. The screaming stopped. Obviously she wanted to do it herself.

She began Kindergarten at the age of 4, since there was no way Lori was staying home if her cousin and best buddy, Robb, was going. But, in the First grade, she decided that she wasn’t going anymore. Stomach aches were frequent until she finally decided that she better go to school.

Lori was a good student, but it was in competitive sports that she found her love. Girls Basketball was just coming into its own as she entered High School at MHS and she became a strong, physical player. She also played volleyball and went out for track, even though she could never run. Lori was competitive to the core and she hated to lose.

Years before her graduation from MHS in 1977, Lori’s blood had gradually turned PURPLE. KSU here she came!!! Lori remained loyal to her beloved “Cats,” and even after a bad year, she would say, “Next year will be the year of the Cats.” Faith in her mighty “Cats” never wavered, and as a Football season ticket holder she followed the team for many years.

During her junior year at K-State, she tried out for the Girls Softball Team as a “walk on” and not only made the team but also earned her coveted letter and a K-State letter jacket. This was a one year run, as it became evident that ball playing, maintaining good grades and finally graduating were not going hand in hand. Lori graduated from KSU in 1982.

After graduation, from high school and college, Lori remained a passionate fan. She loved her Mustangs, but the tattoo on her ankle was a “K-State Wildcat!” Among the things she treasured most as she battled cancer were the encouraging letters from legendary K-State football coach, Bill Snyder.

Her first job after college was in the Valley Center School District, where she remained for ten years teaching Physical Education and coaching. Friendships with former players and teachers lasted even longer.

The old adage “You can take the kid off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the kid” applied to Lori, and after teaching for 10 years, she asked her Dad if he could use her on the farm. He said “yes,” and she came home. For the next 13 years she was Doug’s right hand girl and for the past 5 years was manager of her parents’ farm.

Lori learned about fertilizers, spraying, and ordering seed by exercising her motto: “If I don’t know, I’ll find someone who can tell me,” and she was successful as a result. She farmed as she gardened—with care for growing plants. This talent went back to early 4-H years and continued at her home on the Rattlesnake Creek, where she produced vast amounts of produce to share with family and neighbors. Many deep friendships developed as she delivered her produce.

The evening after Lori’s death, Doug proudly told me how she studied to learn about crops and then applied what she had learned to improve production, just as she also took classes to become a certified Master Gardner. I couldn’t help but see the close association between her talent for growing crops and her gift for nurturing students—and, I might add--friendships.

Lori’s move to the farm still allowed her to continue coaching, this time basketball. She coached high school girls’ basketball at Macksville and Skyline, before returning to coach junior high at Macksville. She loved the kids and was devastated when her health would no longer let her coach.

One of the highlights of her coaching career was taking her Skyline Thunderbird team to the 2A state tournament and coaching a game in Bramledge Coliseum. They didn’t win, but they made it there and she coached a game at KSU! Her great final adventure was a trip to the Final Four, a trip won by Courtney Garcia. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if K-State had won just one more game and she could have watched them play in Lucas Oil Stadium.

The legacy of an outstanding teacher can never be measured, because the influence she has on her students will go on through them to touch the lives of countless others. MHS Head Basketball Coach Kuckleman acknowledged Lori’s legacy in a particular group of young men who went on to win the State Basketball Championship in 2006. As their junior high basketball coach, Lori had taught them not only the fundamentals, but also the passion she had for the game. When those boys graduated, Lori agreed to serve on the Championship Season Fund committee established to help the team with their higher education. That was just one example of how Lori was willing to volunteer her time when someone needed help, and a perfect example of the impossibility of measuring her legacy to all her students.

Her willingness to help was also called upon after the terrible storms of May 2007 and 2008. Practicing what the Bible tells us, “to love your neighbor as yourself,” she and Barb were frustrated by feeling that they couldn’t do enough and couldn’t fix everything for everybody.

Because Lyn and I lived away from this community for several years, we didn’t know Lori as a child, and our first recollection of her was at an alumni banquet soon after she had graduated. We were sitting with a group of friends our age, and nominations were being made for alumni officers. When someone in our group was nominated, we heard a voice from the far end of the table where the most recent graduates sit saying, “I think we need to get someone young elected.” A little shocked that someone was implying we weren’t young, we looked down to see who had made the remark. Of course, it was Lori. I believe that is how she found herself serving as an officer, a post she held most of her adult life. She originated the alumni newsletter, for which she was editor and staff, struggling to get the 10th issue in the mail in the final weeks of her life. We may realize how much she did for her community only when she is no longer there to do it for us.

Lori loved to have fun and applied that philosophy to the most mundane things. She even told her Mother once that harvest was fun! Her cousin Susanne remembers helping make pickle relish. Grinding the cucumbers and onions made everyone cry, and when Aunt Linda’s disgruntled helpers complained, Lori appeared in diving mask and snorkel. The fun was on and the task soon finished.

One morning near Easter 2007 we were having coffee with Doug and Linda. Lori was there, and when the conversation turned to hunting Easter eggs as children, Doug and Linda started pointing at Lori. She then confessed that she was pretty annoyed when her nieces decided they were too grown up to hunt eggs any longer—since she had continued to join in the children’s hunt and still wasn’t ready to stop.

Lori’s child-like exuberance and whole-hearted joy included playing all kinds of games. Most recently, perhaps, her competitiveness focused on hitting a little white, dimpled ball, and when walking the course became too difficult for her, she got a golf cart, silver and PURPLE of course--and she kept playing.

Lori was a talented writer. She wrote the Mustang Sports Column for the St. John News and other papers for several years.

One very special friend helped Lori through many long, hard days of chemo just by being there. Lori found a little black & white puppy on her front lawn one evening, and it was love at first sight. Miss Daisy became her 40 pound lap dog, and Lori’s story about Miss Daisy won a writing contest that resulted in Daisy being named “Pet of the Year.”

When Lori posted the story on her web site later, she wrote: “…the contest was limited to just a one-page story. I intended to include a paragraph about how Daisy gets the most out of every minute of her day and how much I love to watch her do just that and wish I could be more like her.” In fact, I think most of us would think the words Lori wrote about Miss Daisy are really a pretty good description of herself and our feelings about her. Both before and after her diagnosis, Lori seemed to squeeze every minute out of her days, and most of us would wish we could practice her enthusiastic approach to life.

After her diagnosis in August of 2008, Lori attacked her treatment with the same determination that she did everything else. Dr. Jennings told her parents that her competitive spirit was what kept her going for a year longer than most people with her type of cancer.

Lori appreciated the nurses and doctors who helped her in that battle. Like everyone else she encountered, Lori did what she could to brighten their days. Dr. Eastes just happened to be a KU fan, but she didn’t hold that against him…..too much. An upcoming K-State/KU game led to a bet between the two of them, and Lori’s wager required her to wear KU blue and red to all her treatments the week following the game, if the ‘Cats lost. Unfortunately they did. Lori decided that if she had to wear KU colors all day, she was going to do it up right. She found the ugliest, gaudiest KU t-shirt possible and accessorized it with red & blue Mardi Gras beads. But, the final touch was a red feather boa, from which she clipped a stash of feathers so she could molt in the treatment chair of every doctor’s office she visited that day.

Although Lori hated to lose, her battle with cancer was one she wasn’t able to win, and although she may not have done everything she wanted to do, she crowded a lot into her brief fifty years. We all hated seeing what Lori had to deal with her last months, but it may have been her final gift to all of us. She gave us the opportunity to give back to her the love she gave so generously to her family, her friends, and her community all of her life.
 

 

In conclusion, from all of us who loved Lori…
“You did it your way, Lori. Now may you rest in Peace.”

 

The Lori Lamb Legacy Grant has been established to carry on the service and generosity Lori began during her brief life and extend her legacy for students into the future.


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