Published : Friday, December 27, 2019 | 5:06 AM
On April 27, 1956, Nancy and Richard Bollman welcomed Laurie into the world and their family in Dixon, IL. The Bollman family soon included brothers Jeff and Joey.
Though neither had graduated high school, Dick and Nancy valued education and instilled a love of learning and achievement in each of their children. They also made sure their children had every opportunity, even if it meant Dick working two jobs.
Laurie attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and played piano. She was a gifted student who worked hard to succeed. At Dixon High School she enjoyed being part of Madrigals and made lifelong friendships. She was among the first women to earn a summer job at the cement plant in town and earned a Medusa Scholarship from her dad’s employer to help pay her tuition and expenses at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she studied English Literature.
After graduating from U of I with honors and taking a gap year, Laurie entered graduate school in the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Laurie became interested in education and worked to get her teaching credential through UT. It was in a dorm laundry room at UT that she met Paul Little. The two were married in 1980.
In 1982, the couple moved to Southern California, where Laurie had been hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District. They rented a small apartment in Pasadena and Laurie began her teaching career at Bancroft Junior High. With the support of fellow teachers, friends, and mentors, she was soon promoted to magnet coordinator.
Laurie was recruited to open the Highly Gifted Magnet at North Hollywood High School as coordinator while she worked toward her M.A. in education at CalState LA. She received her administrative credential and was promoted to assistant principal at Lincoln High School in East L.A.
Laurie and Paul welcomed their son Cameron in 1988. Daughter Courtney was born in 1991.
To devote more time to her kids, she gave up her administrative position and returned to teaching at Eagle Rock High School in 1995, where she would finish her career 23 years later. Laurie delighted in teaching and working with her middle and high school students. She established the International Baccalaureate program at ERHS and coordinated the IB Middle Years Programme. As one of her teacher colleagues and friends said, “Laurie was a mentor and a hero.” She encouraged the success of her students and worked with them to achieve their highest potential as she pushed the school to excel. After retiring from the classroom, she co-founded Eagle Endeavors at ERHS, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students and teachers connect with grants and financial aid.
Laurie was adventurous and creative in her professional and personal life. She supported her husband and children in all they pursued. She loved literature and reading. Generations of her students now share her enthusiasm for Mark Twain, Jane Austen and especially To Kill A Mockingbird. She loved Abraham Lincoln, Americana, Mr. Potato Head, her rescued Great Pyrenees dogs, and her adopted neighborhood in Pasadena (and her wonderful neighbors). Laurie had a sharp sense of irony and a quick wit.
It was Laurie who led the family on camping vacations across the western US. Once the kids had left home, she organized road trips with Paul along the entire Route 66; through the south; Montana and the Dakotas; and more. At her suggestion, Laurie and Paul traveled to all 50 states together, accomplished last spring with a 3-week road trip through Alaska. Most recently they enjoyed the Aurora Borealis and more in Iceland. Laurie loved roadside attractions and the oddities and eccentricities of American history and culture.
More than anything, she loved her kids. She encouraged their musical, artistic, and literary interests, and supported them in their scouting and sports activities. She was very proud that Cameron and Courtney each achieved the highest ranks that the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts bestow. She supported their higher education aspirations and delighted as each graduated from college and followed their dreams and ambitions as adults.
Laurie Bollman-Little is survived by her children, Cameron and Courtney; her husband Paul; brothers Jeff (Karen) and Joe (Loren); and her mother, Nancy Bollman. Laurie adored her dad, Dick, who predeceased her.
Laurie always felt she could work harder and achieve more, but a teacher can never know the impact they have in the world and on the future. Laurie Bollman-Little’s legacy as a teacher, mentor, friend, wife, and especially mother cannot be measured. It is our future.
She will be missed by so many.
A memorial will be planned at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please donate to these organizations that Laurie supported:
P.O. Box 412786
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Great Pyrenees Association of Southern California Rescue
18122 Rancho Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92407