LaRae Lou Hammond, 61, passed away February 7, 2019 at Good Samaritan Society St. John’s in Kearney.
LaRae was born March 21, 1957, in Lexington, Nebraska, to Lee Hammond and Elvera “Pat” (Schnakenberg) Hammond. Her parents divorced and her mother married John Racek who became her father in every way for the rest of his life.
When LaRae was born, doctors told her parents she would never talk or walk. She’d never go to school or have a job. Her mother said otherwise and the little baby with Down Syndrome began a lifetime of achievements — starting with her cheerful chatter.
At age 7, she attended school at the Nebraska School for Trainable Children in Cozad where she learned reading, writing and math, as well as independent living skills. She participated in Special Olympics and arts and crafts excelling in ceramics. She loved music early in life and it remained a constant joy. She was the school’s first official graduate complete with cap and gown in May 1975.
After graduation, LaRae was a client at South Central Development Services before moving to the North Platte Opportunity Center. The big day came when she moved into her own apartment, had her own checking account and enjoyed independent living. Her years there gave her many special friends including the Friday afternoon Wild Women’s Club. She loved shopping, bowling, country music dances and weekly manicures with the girls. In North Platte, LaRae was employed at several downtown businesses and was very proud to be a cashier at the General Store second-hand shop before retiring.
In 2000, LaRae’s health required dialysis treatments three times a week. Many wondered how she could meet the strict regimen of end stage renal disease. Again, she went beyond all expectations living 19 more years. In 2010, LaRae’s health required a move to Kearney where she easily found new friends and made a comfortable home at St. John’s. It was here she learned computer skills and discovered country music and cat videos on YouTube.
Throughout her life, LaRae loved cats, parties, Christmas and her birthday. She also loved her nieces and nephews, family reunions, photos, and talking on the phone with her dear friend Judy. A very special moment in her life was when great grandniece Pippa LaRae was named after her in 2017.
Survivors include her sister Pam (Arlan) Ackerman of Lexington; her brother Mike Racek of Lexington; nephews Jory Wood of Lexington and Harrison Racek of Lexington; nieces Leia Underwood of Stapleton, Christina (Brad) Wagener of Lexington, Angie Chaney of Park Hill, Oklahoma, Schuylar Racek of North Platte and Betsy Racek of Lexington; aunts Phyllis (Jim) Byrns of Johnson Lake and Peggy Schnakenberg of Eastvale, California; and her lifetime friend Judy Saner of North Platte. She also had numerous other cousins and relatives.
She was preceded in death by her parents; nephew Jay Racek; special friend Royce Hudson and sister of the heart Rhonda Wiezorek.
Memorials are suggested to Good Samaritan Society St. John’s, Special Olympics or the donor’s choice.
Funeral services will be on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lexington with Pastor Rob Kuefner, officiating.
Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Burial will be at the Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington.
Reynolds-Love Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the family with arrangements. Please share online condolences with the family by visiting: reynoldslovefuneralhome.com