Graphic for Laura Prescott's Tribute

When an extraordinary person like Laura Prescott comes through your life and leaves this world… the loss feels profound. When that loss is felt just as deeply by an entire community… it is pretty clear that the word “extraordinary” does not even begin to define who that person was.

Laura Prescott and Jenny Hawran at NERGC in 2017

Photo: Laura Prescott and Jenny Hawran at NERGC in 2017 in Springfield, Massachusetts (Copyright: Jenny Hawran).

Laura was an eternal optimist. Laura was a foodie. Laura loved trees and mountains and nature. Laura loved a good mystery book. Laura was a daughter, a mother and an oh-so- joyful grandmother. Laura enjoyed a good scotch now and then. Laura loved to laugh. Laura was my friend.

My story with Laura is probably different from others. I was not her professional colleague. But she was helping me and encouraging me to become that. Laura was my genealogy mentor. And in the meantime, we became fast friends.

If you didn’t know Laura, here is a little bit about her professional life from her website.


Meeting Laura

I met Laura at my very first genealogy conference in 2007 when the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERCG) came to Hartford. My first class was her lecture “Timelines: Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective.” I still have the handout for it with my scribblings in the margin.

I’m amazed I remember that lecture in such detail, but when you think about it, for genie nerds like me, your first genealogy conference is kind of like your first kiss, right? It is exhilarating. It is exciting. It makes you a little dizzy, even. It’s definitely something you never forget.

2012 Genealogy Series, Laura Prescott

Photo: Laura talks with an attendee after her presentation at the Windsor Historical Society in Windsor, Connecticut in 2012. I never missed her talks when she came to town. (Used with permission from the Windsor Historical Society. Copyright Windsor Historical Society.)

I’ll never forget Laura from that conference. As I shyly went up to her afterward, she greeted me with that wonderful smile. After chatting for a few minutes and then saying goodbye, she tapped my arm as I was walking away and said, “Oh, hey! Find me on Facebook so we can be Facebook friends and talk more.”

I figured she was just being polite, but what the heck, I requested to be her friend a few days later.

“Hi, Jenny! How did you like your first conference?” was Laura’s immediate post on my wall.

And the crazy thing is… she really wanted to know.

I went on to visit with her at many other conferences like RootsTech and Jamboree. She gave several talks at the local historical society in my town in Connecticut, too. We would visit before and after, and if time allowed, we would grab a bite to eat.

I soaked up her advice on the genealogy business. Find your niche, she said. Keeping blogging and sharing my family stories, she said. She encouraged me to never stop learning and to attend as many conferences and workshops as I could because things were always changing and advancing. Network, and make genie friends, she said.

Just 5 days before she passed away she knew that I was going to the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (FGS), and she wrote on my Facebook wall, “Best national conference. Have fun!”


Laura’s Legacy

Laura’s interests were so wide and varied, there was always something she could find that she had common with people. It was uncanny.

Corned Beef Sandwich from Rein's Deli

Photo: I posted my Reins’ corned beef sandwich and Bloody Mary on my Facebook wall and tagged Laura a few weeks before she died. She loved it! (Copyright: Jenny Hawran)

For us, besides genealogy, we bonded over funny things like the corned beef sandwiches at Rein’s Deli in Connecticut. It was a favorite stop of hers when she came through the state. We bonded over our daughters who were both named Katie and who were both born 4 days overdue. We bonded over New Hampshire, which she so dearly loved and I so frequently visited with my family. We bonded over ice cream, because, c’mon, who doesn’t love ice cream?

And I know that so many others bonded with her over their own things. Just as deeply. And just as easily. Because that was Laura.

I wasn’t the closest friend Laura ever had, by any means. There are so many others who were closer. But she made me feel like I was, in every hug and every smile she gave me. She made us all feel that way, I think.

That is an extraordinary person.

And as much as we miss her deeply, we all know that Laura is slightly giddy up there because she has now broken through all those brick walls with her ancestors. She is pretty darn satisfied to have finally figured it all out.

Someone posted on Laura’s Facebook page after she passed away: “Be like Laura.”

I love that. I couldn’t have said it any better.



This beautiful tribute to fellow GeneaBlogger Laura Prescott was written by guest blogger Jenny Hawran, author of the blog Like Herding Cats.  Read Laura Prescott’s obituary for more information about her impact on the genealogy community.


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