Laura Laydeen (Avery) Yoder passed away Thursday after a fight of more than a decade against breast cancer. She was 83.
Laura was the daughter of William L. and Florence L. (Overholtzer) Avery of Reading. She was a proud graduate of Northeast Junior High and Reading High School, class of 1955. Laura went on to major in elementary education at Kutztown State Teachers College, graduating in 1959. While attending there, she met her husband, Russel D. Yoder, who was also studying education. They married in June 1958. Their marriage lasted over 60 years. Russel predeceased her in 2019.
She is survived by her daughter, Deborah L. Yoder Boughter, of Wernersville, and her son, David R. Yoder, of Carlisle, Pa, and a cousin, Nora Joyce Avery, of Florida.
Following her graduation, Laura was accepted as a first-grade teacher in the Reading School District on the recommendation of her mentor, Dr. William Bernhardt, and began teaching at the Buttonwood Elementary School, one day before the city condemned the building. She continued to teach until the birth of her first child in 1961. She returned to the classroom in 1968 at Lauer’s Park Elementary, and then moved to Thomas Ford Elementary for a number of years, and then followed her principal, MaryAnn Zerkowski, to the newly renovated Riverside Elementary, retiring in 1993. She taught first grade and transitional first grade, and enjoying working with that age group. A number of her students went on to great achievements, and returned to visit with her. Laura also mentored several student teachers from Kutztown University.
During her tenure as a teacher, Laura became deeply committed as a member of the Reading Education Association, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and the National Education Association. She held leadership positions in a number of these, and continued to serve even after her retirement, becoming the state membership chair of the retired arm of PSEA and building up its strength.
Laura remained locally active and was president of the Berks County Chapter of PSEA(Retired). Many retirees remember her semi-annual retirement seminars. She also held leadership positions in PSEA’s Eastern Region. Laura was elected several times as a national delegate to the NEA convention, from Philadelphia to Chicago to Kansas City. Her favorite venue was New Orleans.
Laura served on the Board of Directors of the Reading-Berks Teachers Credit Union for many years, and enjoyed the challenge of helping manage this institution.
In addition, she and Russel served for a number of years as convention co-chairs of the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association, holding statewide conventions featuring nationally recognized speakers and leading science vendors. Laura and Russel were both honored for their work in this area.
Besides her professional associations, Laura also enjoyed serving in community organizations, starting with the Junior Women’s Club of Muhlenberg, where she was vice president. Laura was the first female full member of the Lions Club of Muhlenberg. She also served in a number of capacities in the Reading High Alumni Association, and the Senior Club of Laureldale.
A lifelong Lutheran, she was a member of Alsace Lutheran Church. When younger, she was a member of Grace Lutheran, Reading, where she sang in the choir.
A viewing will be held Tuesday, September 22nd from 6:30 - 8:00 pm in Stitzel Family Funeral Homes & Crematory, Inc., 3300 Kutztown Road, Laureldale.
Services will be held Wednesday, September 23rd at 11:00 am in Laureldale Cemetery Chapel, 4631 Pottsville Pike (Muhlenberg Township) Reading, PA 19605.
Laura loved flowers, and the family will gladly accept flowers at the Stitzel Funeral Home, or donations may also be made to the Alumni Association of Reading High School, PO Box 14722, Reading, PA 19612-4722, in her memory.
For online condolences, visit www.StitzelFamilyFuneralHomes.com
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