Jersey Skylands Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.

Dawn Laubenstein, one of JSLRC's Founding Members,
passed away on January 5, 2009 from cancer. She was only 57 years old.


Janet Hawkins is a minister at our church. She and Dawn became very close.
Following is a tribute that she read at Dawn’s memorial service on January 17, 2009
- George Laubenstein

I received a precious gift on September 9, 2008. That was the day Dawn Laubenstein officially came into my life. We had talked on the phone a few times, but September 9 is the first time we met face to face.

On that day George and Dawn came to my office, we introduced ourselves and they began to tell me their story. I heard about their lives together, we discovered our common love of dogs, and they related the details of their decision to move to central Virginia from New Jersey. Then they entrusted me with the news of Dawn's cancer diagnosis.

Though we had just met each other the conversation was open, honest and real. We connected on a very personal level. We talked, we laughed, we cried and we prayed during that first encounter.

The tears were not tears of self pity, but of increased awareness and sensitivity to the precious nature of life. The emotion stemmed from an overwhelming appreciation of the value of relationships and a fervent need to savor each moment and every experience.

George and Dawn started attending worship at Fort Hill United Methodist Church the next Sunday. I found myself looking forward to time spent together.  

I was drawn to Dawn. She was down to earth, warm, authentic, kind, patient, unselfish, sensitive and thoughtful. When she asked a question she would listen attentively, processing everything told her. Then she would respond deliberately and thoughtfully. Dawn was easy to talk to – I felt I had known her for years. She had a million dollar smile and a gentle sense of humor. She really loved her furry four legged children! Those who visited her at home commented on her wonderful gift of hospitality.

I was impacted by the commitment George and Dawn had for one another. As Dawn faced the stark reality of her mortality, her concern was mainly for George. And George was wholeheartedly dedicated to upholding the quality of Dawn's life. He encouraged her to keep mobile as long and as much as possible. George lovingly tended to her, especially during the last few weeks. He did everything he could to alleviate her suffering.

For an extended period of time in October and November George and Dawn drove to Charlottesville each day for treatments. It must have been exhausting and grueling. Their courage and resilience were inspirational. George's focus on Dawn's welfare was unwavering. I could truly see that Dawn was not just George's wife, but also his best friend.

It was in mid December when Dawn and George received the news that the treatments had not been effective. December 14 was the last Sunday Dawn was in church. After Sunday worship we sat in the front pew, treasuring and savoring this friendship that was speeding all too quickly in a direction we weren't quite ready to go. We talked about life, we talked about death. George and I spoke of our love for her and she talked of her love for us and for God.

In the days to follow we talked of faith, trust, forgiveness, peace, heaven and eternal life. And we acknowledged we had more questions that we had answers. As part of our conversation along the way, we also acknowledged that our lives, our pain and suffering are just a small part of a much bigger tapestry – far beyond our comprehension and understanding. More importantly, we agreed it was not for us to understand.

The following poem expresses it well...

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern he has planned.

It has been a privilege and an honor to share this chapter of Dawn's life. I cherish the time spent – the memories made. My life has been enriched and impacted by sharing this journey. God brought Dawn into my life/ God brings people into our lives for a reason.

Though I knew Dawn less than four months we shared on a deeper level than most of us do at any given time. When you know your earthly life is coming to an end you don't waste time on superficial conversation. Our time together was holy ground.

I encourage you to gather memories of Dawn. Our memories are a precious gift from God.

Yes, there is a sense of loss. We have lost a true and unselfish friend – a woman of sensitivity, integrity and intelligence. But we also celebrate her homecoming, for Dawn is no longer limited by her physical body. She is now in her heavenly home.

This is a time of thanksgiving – not for what has been taken, but for what has been given to us. We have had the privilege to know and love a beautiful woman. Let us thank God for what he has given us through her.

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