Laura Kay Ward, 73, unexpectedly gained her angel wings on Jan. 18, 2021, after battling several illnesses.

Born in Maywood, Calif., to Robert and Helen Ward, Laura grew up in Whittier, Calif. She spent her younger years surfing by day and dancing by night at the Harmony Park Ballroom and The Whisky a GoGo in Hollywood. She rocked out to favorites such as Dick Dale, Janis Joplin, and The Doors and often hung out with the stars offstage. This sparked a lifelong eclectic love of music and brought her to innumerable concerts. At home, songs would always be playing from her diverse collection of records (especially reggae).

Laura’s adventurous spirit and appreciation for different cultures led her to travel to many tropical places. A favorite story was that a one-week trip to Hawaii once turned into her living there for a whole year. She loved Central America, especially Costa Rica, and her favorite place in the world to visit was Belize.

Always considering herself a “hippie at heart,” she fittingly spent years in the colorful houseboat community of Sausalito before settling down on the coast in El Granada. Between HMB and Princeton, she spent most of her life on the Coastside, loving its beauty, beaches, community of friends (and the foghorn).

Her affection toward animals guided Laura to rescue many who were injured or abandoned. Anything from saving a kitten trapped in a storm drain, to adopting a dog that was waiting in a veterinarian’s office to be euthanized for behavioral issues. Friends often brought her pets they could no longer care for, and while living in Princeton she created the Rainbow Chicken Farm. It served as a haven for many creatures “great and small” along with her spectacular vegetable and flower gardens.

Laura wore many hats before she retired. She started at the top of the Occidental skyscraper in Los Angeles followed by China Peak ski resort. She cleaned houses (some belonging to celebrities such as Neil Diamond), painted commercial buildings (including Cunha School), co-founded a thrift shop, nannied, did property caretaking, personal caregiving, volunteered with animal rescues, and cooked in several restaurants (her macaroni and cheese casserole was incredible and she made the best white chocolate cheesecake).

Above all, her absolute passion was plants. You could spot her gardening anytime, hands ungloved and decorated in rings and fresh soil. She was known for her amazing green thumb, and “Aura’s Gardening Service” created hundreds of local gardens (residential and commercial). With her talent and famous organic compost she could turn any yard into looking like The Secret Garden.

Laura was a descendant of pioneers who crossed the plains by wagon train in the 1800s. She took pride in her ancestors’ historical involvement in bringing the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across America.

She loved her children more than anything and her “pioneer blood” will live on in her son Matthew Boone (Thay), daughter Pearl Riddell (John), and grandchildren Vegas, Cash, John, Scarlett, Zoe, and Connor.

A celebration of life will be held later this year (COVID-19 restrictions permitting). In the meantime, you may plant flowers or visit the beach in Laura’s memory. Please share any stories or photos to moonbaymama@gmail.com

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