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Lela Ann Gardner Laughter, 84, found her ‘teaching home’ at New Hanover High School

Lela Ann Gardner Laughter
Lela Ann Gardner Laughter

WILMINGTON — Lela Ann Gardner Laughter, 84, passed away peacefully on Oct. 21, 2018, a cool, crisp and sunny Sunday morning.

Born in the small Nash County town of Battleboro, North Carolina, to the late Elizabeth and Edward Gardner, she grew up in New Bern, where she graduated from high school.

Lela Ann graduated from East Carolina College with a B.S. in mathematics, and began her professional career as a mathematician at Langley Air Force Base, Newport News. A year later, she began her teaching career in Norfolk. It was there she met John, her loving and devoted husband. They married in May of 1958 and began their life together in Louisburg, North Carolina. In 1969, John and Lela moved their family to Wilmington.

Lela Ann paused her teaching career to raise her two children, Beth and Greg. Duty called again in 1981 when she was asked to substitute at Roland Grise Junior High School. It was two years later that she found her “teaching home” at New Hanover High School. Lela Ann was a devoted math and algebra teacher, and after retiring from the classroom in 1997, she enjoyed her time with the New Hanover Retired Teachers organization. Though she was a tough teacher and demanded excellence in the classroom, she earned the respect of hundreds of students.

As important as academics were to her, her true love was cheering on the Wildcats in all sports. Lela Ann also spent countless hours at ballparks and stadiums from Hugh McRae Park to Brogden Hall to Kenan Stadium to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida, where she and John developed their loyalty to the Boston Red Sox.

Lela Ann is survived by her husband, John; children, Elizabeth Laughter Rea (Dan) and John Gregory Laughter (Stephanie); grandchildren, Jessica Rea, Haley Rea and Dylan Laughter; sister, Mary Elizabeth Gardner Owens (James); many nieces, nephews, and cousins; and dear friend and sitter, Clara Welch.

Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25, at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Wilmington. The family will greet friends at 3 p.m. in the Wesley UMC Fellowship Hall.

A special thanks to the staff at Trinity Grove Rehabilitation Center, Morningside of Wilmington and Lower Cape Fear Hospice Care.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Wesley Memorial UMC, 1401 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403; or the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, P.O. Box 127, Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450.

Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.

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