Laurel Sherman Letter
Hanover, N.H. — Laurel Sherman Letter died Thursday, March 13, 2014, in the presence of her husband, Sidney, and the kind, capable care staff of the Wheelock Terrace retirement facility in Hanover, where she and her husband had resided since December of 2012.
She was born on Aug. 24, 1932, to Verna and Merton Sherman of Westvale, N.Y., a suburb of Syracuse. After completing her elementary and secondary schooling there, she worked for a machine shop, where she was the entire office staff as well as an inspector helping to ensure that the products complied with Government and industry standards.
Laurel, at various times, attended Syracuse University, Buffalo State University, The University of Rochester, all in New York, and Muskingum College in Ohio and Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. In 1959, she entered Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City. There, an educational experiment gone awry prompted her, and about half of her classmates, to leave the school and she found employment as an office manager at The Interchurch Center, near the Columbia University campus in New York City.
Late in May, 1961, she took some work to the Center’s typing pool for transcription, and the work was assigned to a young ex-GI and Columbia College sophomore. She and her typist, Sidney Letter, were married on Oct. 14, 1961, in the Columbia University chapel with her boss, The Rev. Lawrence McMaster, officiating.
For approximately two years, the couple resided in a fourth-floor one-room New York City walkup apartment with a hotplate, a shared bathroom down the hall, and police cars holding noisy conventions under the windows most Saturday nights. After Sid’s graduation from Columbia College in 1962, the couple moved to a palatial 11’ x 27’ studio apartment in Fort Lee, N.J. From there they commuted to the Interchurch Center and attended the Englewood, NJ, Presbyterian Church where Laurel was a member of the choir and a frequent soloist.
Subsequently, the couple moved to Temple University in Philadelphia, where Laurel was enrolled with advance standing and attended classes full time. She majored in sociology, achieved a Bachelor’s degree with highest honors, and was named a President’s Scholar.
In 1971, another work-related move brought the pair to Hanover, and subsequently to Lebanon, where Laurel was active in the Christian education and music programs of The First Congregational Church. She also served as a member and board president of Planned Parenthood of the Upper Valley, and assisted the Upper Valley Land Trust in ways ranging from cranking mimeograph machines to researching deeds at the County facilities in North Haverhill.
In 1966, Laurel was instrumental in enabling the Upper Valley Land Trust to preserve a significant portion of the undeveloped land that separates much of Lebanon’s residential Young Street from Interstate 89, thereby ensuring the existence of undeveloped space to serve as a recreational resource and as a shield between the Interstate and the Young Street residential area. For that accomplishment, she was cited by her neighbors, the City, and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
In addition to her husband, Sidney, of Wheelock Terrace in Hanover, Laurel is survived by her sister, Nancy S. March of LaFayette, N.Y., and her neighbors and family-in-spirit, William and Paula Cilbrith.
No services are currently planned. To view an on-line memorial and/or send a message of condolence, please visit www.rand-wilson.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Rand-Wilson Funeral Home of Hanover.