Laurel Lothrop Mills died on December 4, 2021, from respiratory pneumonia (RSV) contracted when her immune system was compromised by cancer treatment. She was born in Wilton, Maine, on January 19, 1946 to Lewis Lothrop and Doris Brown Lothrop. She graduated from Wilton Academy and attended the University of Maine. While in Maine she married Tom Mills and together they had two daughters, Beth and Marissa. Laurel was very active in ARC while in Brunswick in order to provide services for Beth.
In 1976, she and her family moved to Neenah, Wisconsin and in 1981 she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley to pursue an English degree. Though she and Tom parted ways, they remained close friends and were both active in their daughters’ lives. While at the university she met Lynn Koss, who became her partner and spouse for 40 years. In 1984 she graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. She began sharing her poetry, winning many awards and commendations while earning her master’s degree in the humanities. Her body of published literary work includes six books of poetry and three novels. Additionally, her work was included in many literary journals, magazines and anthologies including Kansas Quarterly, Ms. Magazine, Yankee, and numerous others.
Laurel became a senior lecturer in English at UW-Fox Valley and taught writing workshops and classes at UW-Oshkosh and in the community and at the Clearing in Door County. Many Fox Cities writers got their introduction to writing in her classes and she continued to mentor many of them. After a successful writing career, she turned to painting, filling her home with many beautiful landscapes. She loved to travel and enjoyed being the vacation planner for friends and family.
Laurel was a remarkable person – kind, caring, loving, nurturing. The forty years we spent together was my life’s greatest adventure. We nurtured each other through losses, hardships and challenges and came out on the other side with a beautiful relationship which we cherished and celebrated. The highest honor of my life was to be at the side of this wonderful woman. She will live forever in my heart – Lynn
When asked to describe Laurel, her family mentioned “loving and dedicated mother, one of the most loving people I have ever known, caring, humble, generous, kind, thoughtful of others, sweetheart.”
Laurel is survived by her spouse of 40 years, Lynn Koss, Neenah, and her children: Beth Mills of Neenah, Marissa (Rick) Neil of Grapevine, TX, and Joshua (Megan) Dedering of Shelby Township, MI. She is further survived by her brother Bradley Lothrop, Bloomington, MN, sisters Sherryl Porter, Lewiston, ME, and Maureen Riggs, Wilton, ME, sisters-in-law Shirley (Wayne) Wiegand, Walnut Creek, CA, and Donna Palmeri, Neenah, and ex-husband Tom (Donna) Mills, Trophy Club, TX. She was also the loving grandmother to Lindsay and Rachel Neil.
Laurel was preceded in death by her parents, her son Jeff Koss, sister-in-law Karen Dedering and brothers-in-laws Doug Brownrigg, David Porter, Butch Riggs, Leonard Palmeri, and John Dedering.
A Memorial Gathering will be held from 10 AM to 1 PM on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at Wichmann Funeral Home, 537 N. Superior St., Appleton, WI 54911. The family respectively requests that all in attendance wear a mask. Inurnment will be in Highland Memorial Park, Appleton at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to 1p36 Deletion Support & Awareness (http://www.1p36dsa.org/donate-now/), Fair Wisconsin (https://fairwisconsin.com/donate/), or a charity of your choosing.
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