Della Kutis Laidlaw, 95, passed away in her sleep on January 21, 2020 at her home at East Ridge Retirement Community in Cutler Bay, FL, where she had resided since 2011.
Della was born in Glen Dale, WV on May 22, 1924 to Anthony J. Kutis and Mary D. Kutis. She was the youngest of three children, and attended primary school in Glen Dale and high school in Moundsville, WV, where she was president of her senior class. After high school she earned an R.N. degree from Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing, then began work as a nurse in Ann Arbor, MI. There she met Robert Laidlaw, a dental student at University of Michigan, and when Robert graduated in 1949 the two married and established a household in Tecumseh, Michigan.
During the next two decades in Tecumseh Della had five children and was a devoted wife, loving mother and busy homemaker, successfully wrangling kids, dogs, cats, Cub Scout den mother responsibilities, and volunteer work at St. Elizabeth Church and School and other Tecumseh organizations. This period also included a 2-year residence in Yokota, Japan when Robert served in the US Air Force Dental Service.
The family moved to Miami, Florida in 1969 and Della expanded her civic and social activities to include volunteering at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens as a docent, the Epilepsy Foundation, Carrollton School for Girls parents’ organization, Church of the Epiphany and Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. During this time her teen-age son Thomas became increasingly disabled by a neurologic condition, and Della and Robert were champions in care and advocacy for him for many years.
From the early 1960s through mid-2000s Della enjoyed summers at the family cottage on Devils Lake near Tecumseh. In the later years, while traveling there from Florida, she often detoured to Glen Dale to spend time with family. She was a wonderful cook, a lifelong bridge player, an avid reader and an enthusiastic traveler who enjoyed life and her family with a reliably cheerful and positive attitude, even when times were challenging.
Della was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Robert W. Laidlaw, and her son Thomas A. Laidlaw; and by her brother Anthony Kutis, Jr. and sister Helen Wilson and their respective spouses.
Della will be greatly missed by her family and friends. She is survived by her children: David Laidlaw (Mary) of Saline, MI; Robert Laidlaw (Valerie) of Bellingham, WA; Mary Arbuckle (Theodore) of Incline Village, NV; and Susan Laidlaw of Chapel Hill, NC; and by eight grandchildren, their spouses and a great-granddaughter.
The family wishes to thank Anne Marie Sookram and the staff at Three Palms and East Ridge for their wonderfully warm and compassionate care given to Della. A Mass to celebrate Della’s life will take place at Holy Rosary St. Richard Catholic Church in Palmetto Bay, FL on Thursday, February 13 at 11:00AM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Trust, Inc., 3251 South Miami Avenue Miami FL 33129 or vizcaya.org.
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