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Obituaries: Smith; Lee; Laughlin; Starks

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Debra K Smith

Debra K Smith: 1954 – 2024

Debra K Smith, 69, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, passed away June 3, 2024 in Corpus Christi, Texas, after a long battle with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency.

Debra (Debbie) was born October 7, 1954 in Farmington, Missouri to Leslie and Alberta Seabaugh. She was the youngest of two children. She brought pure joy to her parents and her older brother, Robert (Bob). She graduated from Fredericktown High School in 1971. She then went on to university Marysville in St. Louis, Missouri where she would get her nursing degree. 

Debbie met the love of her life, Carl Smith in May 1973. They were married July 26, 1975. Debbie and Carl had two sons, Matt and Brad. Her children meant everything to her. Debbie and Carl settled in Cheyenne, Wyoming where they finished raising their sons and watched their grandchildren be born.

Debbie worked at CRMC as a nurse until the Alpha-1 started progressing. She then became a senior clinical abstractor. After 21 years of hard work and dedication, Debbie retired from CRMC in October 2021.

Debbie enjoyed her time watching her grandkids do whatever it was they loved, whether it was playing basketball, football or shooting trap. She was their number one fan and biggest supporter. She always knew just what they needed to hear if a game or shoot didn’t go the way they thought it should. She also loved spending time in the kitchen with her granddaughters, showing them all of granny’s tips and tricks. One of her special granny tricks was just to measure from the heart.

Debbie is survived by her loving husband, Carl of Cheyenne; brother, Robert (Bob) Seabaugh of Fredericktown, Missouri; sister-in-law, Cindy Smith of  St. Charles, Missouri; son, Brad and his wife, Desiree, of Cheyenne, Wyoming; her bonus son, Paul Vellacott and his wife, Kerryn of Brisbane, Australia; her grandchildren: Burke, Huston, Bailee, Brody  all of Cheyenne; and Brinley of Comstock, Nebraska; Luke, Ben and Joel of Brisbane Australia; niece, Andrea (John) Oertel of Fredericktown, Missouri and nephew Robert L. Seabaugh Jr. of Missouri; niece, Tara Bornhop of St. Charles, Missouri; and nephew, Brian Bornhop of St. Louis, Missouri.

She was preceded in death by her beloved son, Matt Smith; and her parents, Leslie and Alberta Seabaugh.

Sharon J. Lee

Sharon J. Lee: 1951 – 2024

Sharon Jean Lee, born on July 27, 1951, to Lena and Irwin Wagner in the rural hamlet of Ashley, North Dakota, passed away peacefully in her home on June 1, 2024, surrounded by her loving family.

In July 1975, Sharon, along with her husband and first-born child, moved from Gregory, South Dakota, to Gillette, Wyoming, marking the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. Sharon’s career choices reflected her deep compassion and understanding of life’s full cycle. She initially ran a neighborhood daycare from her home, providing a nurturing space for young children, and later worked at Pioneer Manor retirement home, where she offered comfort and care to the elderly. Her ability to create a warm and welcoming environment was evident as she always opened her home to friends, family members, and community members for coffee, conversations, and casseroles.  

As a mother, she piled miles on the family minivan chauffeuring her four kids – Beth, Bryon, Brinda, and Brad, affectionately referred to as the “4 B’s” – to various activities, including Civil Air Patrol events, basketball practices, violin recitals, and Little League games. She delighted in the pride of experiencing her kids’ success in these endeavors.

Her marriage to Galen Lee was a testament to her commitment, as they celebrated their 50th anniversary on February 23 of this year. Sharon’s quiet strength and dependability as a spouse, mother, and community member were hallmarks of her character. She was a problem solver who enjoyed concocting meals at the Manor, balancing her children’s busy schedules, completing crossword puzzles, solving Wheel of Fortune prompts, and nurturing her marriage.

Growing up on a dairy farm in North Dakota, Sharon developed a strong connection to the land and a close bond with her siblings: Idella, Susan, James, Diana, and Nancy. This rural upbringing instilled in her a love for open spaces and gardening, which she passed on to her children and grandchildren. Her and Galen’s property provided a playground where her kids and later her three grandchildren — Sarah, Hannah, and Jaxs — could rambunctiously explore and learn through experiential play and work. Her love, support, kindness, and pride will continue to be an influence in the lives of her surviving family members.

Services will be held Wednesday June 12, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. at the Gillette Memorial Chapel with a memorial to follow.

Sonja Sue Laughlin

Sonja Sue Laughlin: 1942 – 2024

Early in the morning on June 3, 2024, Sonja Sue Laughlin, beloved mother of three, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother of two, passed away peacefully in her home with a smile on her face and surrounded by loved ones. She left a void in life her family cannot replace.

Sonja was born in Mercer County, North Dakota, in 1942 to Gottlieb and Stella Stern. In 1963, she married Robert Duane Laughlin and began her longstanding family life.

Sonja loved to read, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy all of those grandchildren. She also loved reading, baking cookies, planting flowers, and going to the bookstore.

Sonja was preceded in death by her parents; her two-year old baby sister, Lucina; her sister, Fern; and her husband. She is survived by her sisters, Connie and June; and her brother, Dean. She is also survived by her daughters, Tammy Tromble and Belinda Howery; her son, Michael Laughlin; her grandchildren: Amber, Gabi, Austin, Ben, Lexi, Peyton, and Jolee; and her great-grandchildren, Samuel and Calvin. She was an inspiration to all.

Funeral services will be conducted on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at Gillette Memorial Chapel (210 W. 5th St) beginning with a viewing and visitation at 10:00 a.m.  Formal services will begin at 11:00 a.m., with a graveside service at Mount Pisgah Cemetery immediately following. 

Gerald Wayne Starks

Gerald Wayne Starks: 1958 – 2024

Memorial service for Gerald Starks will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, June 14, 2024 at Gillette Memorial Chapel with Chaplain Gordon Harper officiating.

Gerald Wayne Starks “Garry” 65 off Wright, Wyoming, with family members by his side, passed away quietly on May 16, 2024 at Campbell Memorial Hospital losing his battle with cancer.

Garry was born on November 3, 1958 in Strong City, Kansas to Garland and Dorothy (Peoples) Starks. His mother later married Wayne Hett after the passing of Garland.

Garry graduated from Cherryvale High School in 1977. He was active in football, track, and FFA. He attended Fort Scott Community College where he was a member of the Livestock judging team that placed very well at The Cow Palace. During his time at college, he met and married his wife Karen Lucke on November 22, 1978. They were married for over 45 years and blessed with five children and nine grandchildren.

He worked for different farmers and ranches in Kansas and Wyoming. They moved to Wheatland, Wyoming in 1991. Then, in 1999, Garry and Karen moved to Wright, Wyoming where Garry worked for North Rochelle Mine and Black Thunder Mine, which he retired from five years ago.

After retiring he ran cows in Kansas before selling them due to his health. Garry especially enjoyed his time in the wilderness elk hunting with his family. He loved hunting, fishing, kayaking and riding horses. He was able to experience hunting in Africa, halibut fishing off the coast of Alaska, combat fishing for reds salmon on the Kenai peninsula and tuna fishing off the coast of Mexico. He enjoyed telling stories about his many adventures, sometimes (always) you would hear the same story more than once.

Garry was preceded in death by his father, Garland Starks; mother, Dorothy Hett; stepfather, Wayne Hett; sister, Connie Starks; brother-in-law, Ray Smith; father-in-law Leonard Lucke, and mother-in-law Joyce Lucke. Garry is survived by his wife, Karen Starks; as well as his children: Travis (Sarah) Starks, Bryan (Katie) Starks, Karri (William) Holmes, Kindra (Todd) Small, Jarred (Rachel Stevens) Starks; and nine grandchildren: Morgan Rusty, Cody, Kadence, Justin, Mary, Teagan, Tate and Fletcher. He is also survived by his sisters: Susan (John) Hardesty, Lanelle (Scott) Martin, Wendy (Paul) Keplinger, Markel (Steven) Porter; aunts, Anne Marie Green and Rosalie Wedell; along with numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Garry will be missed by his family and friends. He will be missed by many. It was one heck of a ride!