75.4 F
Lake Wales
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

In Loving Memory Of Laura Grace Alexander


“Paddle hard!” is a kayaking term from her youth that became emblematic of the beautiful life of Laura Grace Alexander, 62, of Winter Park, Florida, who went home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on May 26, 2024, surrounded by her loving family and friends.

Born to John and Sarah Jane Alexander of Frostproof, Florida, on September 8, 1961, Laura Grace, or LG (not “algae”, as she would say with a laugh) began cultivating her love of the outdoors, sports, learning, adventure, friends, and family at an early age. Whether playing with the chickens on the ranch, canoeing at summer camp, turkey hunting with her father, working cattle during marking and branding, or catching ever-elusive lobsters in the Florida Keys, she could be found with a smile on her face and a paddle (or net) nearby.

Her curiosity and zest for life flowed throughout high school as she excelled academically, musically, and athletically. Not only was she the valedictorian, but she also sang in the chorus and played the trumpet in the band that performed in Carnegie Hall and across Europe. She was an accomplished athlete, lettering for four years in three sports. Years later, LG was inducted into the Frostproof Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1983, she graduated from the University of North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in English, where she was an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She enthusiastically cheered on the Tar Heels during basketball season and the Florida Gators during football season.

For more than ten summers, Camp Greystone helped shape LG’s character, leadership, and Christian commitment. It was where so many of her passions converged. Laura Grace learned new skills, forged life-long friendships, and most importantly, developed a personal relationship with Christ. Laura Grace thrived in the North Carolina mountains, as a camper, counselor, and instructor for white-water kayaking and canoeing.

After college, LG worked and lived in Atlanta, before returning to Central Florida to teach English and coach basketball at her alma mater, Frostproof High School. In 1987, she led her basketball team to a State Championship. Teaching, coaching, and creating opportunities for learning were common threads throughout her life. Whether she was honing basketball skills, working with a student to edit an essay, or giving tips on catching lobsters, LG had an uncanny ability to inspire others to “paddle harder” and realize their craft. She believed that the world of literature, with all of its eddies and bends, had much to offer students of all ages, that writing was a critical life skill, and that hobbies like lobstering or kayaking brought great joy to the soul.

Later, Laura Grace served as Vice President of Development and Executive Director of the Great Teacher Program for Ligonier Ministries, as a member of the Board of Directors of Mars Hill Audio, as a trustee of the Greater Orlando Leadership Foundation, and as a board member of Atlantic Blue Group, LLC. 

Laura Grace loved navigating life with family and friends. Whether paddling down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon taking Backroads biking trips or watching plays, concerts, and the US Open in New York, her interests were vast, and travels were grand. She loved being outdoors, taking special trips like visiting Zion National Park and climbing Half Dome with her family, but also thoroughly enjoyed stimulating her mind and stirring her heart by curling up with a good book and having great conversations with friends, both old and new. She had a deep love for animals, especially her dogs Sandy, Red, and her loyal companion Rex. 

Perhaps her greatest adventure was being one of the founders of The Geneva School, a Christian classical school in Casselberry, Florida. For 31 years, she poured her time and talent into this vision for the school. Laura Grace wore multiple hats throughout the school’s history including service on the Board of Governors (Vice Chair for two years), as Headmistress, and as Director of Development. Her true love, however, was teaching tenth grade literature, which she did for ten years.  She recently reflected that “There is something amazing about learning, this world, and the God who created it. Geneva is in my blood, and it has been such a wonderful part of my life.”

She was a lifelong learner both formal and informal. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando in 1998. LG left her imprint on things she pursued, and RTS was no exception. Laura Grace was recognized in 2019 as one of the inaugural recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Soon after graduating from RTS, she spent two years abroad pursuing doctoral work in Modern History at the University of Oxford (Christ Church) in Oxford, England.

Within a year of starting Geneva, she became a founding member of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, PCA. She believed that she was called to help both institutions in whatever way possible. She was actively involved in St. Paul’s with Bible studies, choir, and other community groups. LG believed that connection to church and community was critically important to a fulfilled life. She died in faith, believing “that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26).

When Laura Grace was diagnosed with cancer in 1986, she “paddled hard.” She met each rapid put in her path with unflinching grace, remarkable strength, and steady perseverance, and, even on her hardest days, she would be overcome with gratitude at the goodness of God’s blessings in her life.

Laura Grace is survived by her close-knit, dearly loved family: her mother, Sarah Jane Alexander of Frostproof, Florida; her brother, John David Alexander and his wife Cindy of Lake Wales, Florida; her sister, Nancy Alexander Caswell and her husband Lee of Atlanta, Georgia; her six nieces and nephews: Britton Alexander Grimes and her husband Kyle of Saint Petersburg, Florida; Keaton Alexander Griffin and her husband Tom of Lakeland, Florida; R.E. Lee Caswell, Jr, Grace Caswell Marchesini and her husband Jack, and Sarah Mann Caswell,  all of Atlanta, Georgia; and Wyatt Mitchell Monroe of Lake Wales, Florida;  her two grandnieces: Alexander Grace Grimes of St. Petersburg, Florida and Briet Eleanor Griffin of Lakeland, Florida. She is also survived by extended family in Florida, throughout the United States, and in England. LG will be reunited with her beloved father, John Robert Alexander, who went home to be with the Lord in 2018.

A Celebration of Life service for Laura Grace will be held on Friday, May 31 at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, PCA in Orlando at 2:00 p.m. Reception to follow at Interlachen Country Club. A graveside service will be held Saturday, June 1 at 10:00 a.m. in Frostproof at Silver Hill Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to The Geneva School (1775 Seminola Boulevard, Casselberry, FL 32707), Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando (1231 Reformation Dr, Oviedo, FL 32765), and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, PCA (4917 Eli St, Orlando, FL 32804).

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