Laura Anderson passed peacefully on Aug. 22 at her home in Coral Gables, Fla., surrounded by family and her devoted caregivers.
Born in Tampa on Oct. 11, 1927 to Edward and Ruth Simpson, Laura grew up in Fort Myers, graduated from Fort Myers High in 1945 and Florida State College for Women in 1949. In tribute to her beauty, she was crowned the Queen of the 1949 Edison Pageant of Light.
Her father was the mayor of Fort Myers in the early 1960s.
After graduation, Laura taught art on the islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Boca Grande, taking a ferry to the schools before the islands were connected to the mainland by bridges. In the early 1950s, she moved to Miami, where she continued to teach art.
Laura became an accomplished artist in both watercolors and oils, exhibiting her work in the Beaux Arts clothesline sales. She later served as president of the organization.
In 1956, she married Miami trial attorney, Duane Anderson, living first in South Miami, then for 40 years in The Moorings of Coconut Grove where she and her family made many lifelong friends. The couple traveled often with various organizations and entertained extensively. They also enjoyed hunting quail in north Florida and Georgia, as well as fishing trips aboard "Old Smuggler," which they shared with Duane's partner, Ed Moss.
The best years of Laura's life were spent with her family on Captiva. She collaborated with Miami architect, Robert Bradford Browne, to design her beloved beach house on the end of Wightman Lane. The family spent many happy summers and vacations on the island and enjoyed their friendship with their next-door neighbor, the late American artist Robert Rauschenberg.
Laura loved shelling and designing needlepoint patterns from the shells she collected. Summers on Captiva were memories of making homemade peach ice cream, seagrape jelly, mango chutney and snook dinners. Falls were filled with fishing and water skiing in front of the house and enjoying stone crab dinners. The house was always filled with friends and the beach was a frequent site for weddings and sunset worship services.
Laura was predeceased by her husband in 2002. She is survived by her sister, Marion Hines; three children - Ed Anderson, and his wife, Pam, and their children - Worth, Meghan and Paige; Lolly Anderson Vieth and her husband, Mark, and their four children - Mark, Savannah, Charles, and Harry; and Charles Anderson, his wife, Kelly, and their children - Chad and Kyle.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 2635 Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers, with a reception to follow at Royal Palm Yacht Club, 2360 West First Street in Fort Myers.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 5690 North Kendall Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33156, or to St. Luke's.