Laura Lynn "Sister" Echols, passed at the age of 37 on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 at 5:51pm at her Mammaw's home in Mobile, AL. Laura was diagnosed with brain cancer, grade 2 astrocytoma, in February 2019 and in November 2020 oncologists confirmed that her tumor had progressed to a grade 4 glioblastoma. She never once shed a tear nor felt sorry for herself regarding her diagnosis. She fought against the cancer with Jesus, family and friends by her side, but ultimately God needed her more than we did and called her home. We are at peace knowing that she is made whole and completely healed, enjoying her new life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Laura was born on Feb. 28, 1984 in Mobile, AL on a cold snowy morning to Alex Fox Echols, Jr. & Donna Lynn Miller-Echols. Laura was the first granddaughter to her Mammaw & Pappaw, Juanita & Trammel Miller, so naturally she was spoiled rotten. Five years later, on May 19, 1989, she became a big sister when her brother, Alex Fox Echols, III, was born. He was her baby brother, best friend, teammate, student, Nintendo buddy, baseball card organizer and so much more. Wherever Sister went, so did he, and she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Laura was her own person and never conformed to what every other girl was into at her age. She was enrolled in dance classes but hated to go, and that is when she told her mom and dad that she wanted to sign up to play softball. This of course was something she was inspired to do after watching her favorite movie, A League of Their Own. Laura’s parents never forced their kids to do activities they were not happy with and were always incredibly supportive. So supportive that her dad became her softball coach for her entire softball career and her mom was her biggest and loudest fan at every game. Laura became one of the best ball players in her league at Semmes Girls Softball and was selected for the All-Star team every year, Tournament Team where she helped lead her team to many undefeated championships, MVP Awards and accomplished this with the humblest personality. When a teammate was having a bad game, Laura was the one to calm you down and tell you "It's just a game. Have fun. You've got this." Her favorite position was catcher, just like Dotty Henson, but could play any position with immense precision and athleticism. When she threw the ball, you had better catch it in the pocket, or your hand would be on fire! Those days were the best days of our lives, as she would always say. Also, during this time, she would meet her teammate/best friend who would later become her soulmate of 20+ years. We were inseparable and had so many unforgettable adventures together. Twenty years was not near enough time, but I know I will be with her again in heaven where we will never have to part again. I will always and forever be your Songbird my love.
After many years of playing softball, Laura switched her focus to other passions which included Film, Music, Sports and Family. She has a massive film, music and sports collection that would blow any collector’s mind. Laura’s knowledge of these three passions was wildly extensive and impressive. Her favorite film icons were Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Lucille Ball, Betty White, John Hughes, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Penny Marshall, John Candy, James Cameron and many more.
Her favorite music icons were Madonna, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Smiths, Talking Heads, Celine Dion, Prince, Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Cindi Lauper and if I had time to type the complete list it would probably take a few days and nights.
She loved local athletes of all sports and always admired Louis Gonzalez, John Lieber, Jake Peavy and I know I am leaving out so many, but this would take me forever to list them all.
We attended the Senior Bowl every year, Minor League baseball Championships, South Alabama Athletic events and any other event that was sports related, especially if autographs were a possibility. If you didn’t know before let me reiterate how much Laura LOVED getting autographs from old and new athletes. Her collection is amazing, and it was all for her, meaning she never sold her memorabilia and would have never considered it. Her collection also wasn’t just of sports, she loved going to Bay Fest every year and would meet so many amazing artists. One year Joan Jett played and picked us out of a crowd to come backstage. We were completely ecstatic and had Joan Jett sign Laura’s favorite records. Laura was always prepared for autographs. It’s just a sliver of her personality that made her so interesting and fun to be around.
Laura had the funniest personality. She could have made the Queen’s Guard bust a gut and there was never a dull moment when she was around. One of the best parts of our annual family Disney World vacations was the 9+ hour drive from Mobile to Orlando. Laura always made sure we had plenty of movies to watch and travel games to keep everyone entertained. We never had to worry about planning any vacation details because when it came to Disney World, Laura had it covered. She had every day of your trip planned to the very last detail. What park we would be going to, when and where we’d be eating, what rides we’d go on at a specific time and if we stuck to the schedule, we would never miss out on anything. She was a Disney Wiz for sure. She loved Walt Disney, and I am sure she is in heaven asking him million questions and discussing with him her theme park ideas and so much more. Laura and Walt shared many similarities in their ways of thinking. She was vastly innovative, creative and forward thinking so much so that she could have easily been the top Disney Imagineer. Her ideas were so amazingly brilliant that when she would describe her vision it was like you were already there and you could feel, see and touch every little detail. This world will forever be lacking in creativity because she isn’t in it.
The world also lost the kindest soul who took pride in her humanitarianism. Laura would keep nutritional snacks, waters, extra clothes and shoes in her trunk to give to those in need. So many times, I witnessed her walking up to a person and asking them if they were hungry, did they need anything, asked how she could help and always made sure she made them feel heard and never less than. As she would say “everyone has a story and it’s not our job to judge how or why their story lead to homelessness, it’s our job to take care of our brothers and sisters just as Jesus did.” Laura also felt the same about animals. To her there was no difference in a human and an animal. She and I would feed the stray cats behind Burger King, Winn Dixie and Walmart, rescue kittens and find them homes, stop in the middle of Airport Blvd to rescue a turtle, would never drive so fast that she couldn’t stop if an animal ran out in front of her. It would emotionally devastate her to see any animal dead on the side of the road. When driving at night, we would be on Opossum Patrol which always made us giggle but was a very real thing. Laura cared deeply for this planet, its inhabitants and how we are destroying it day by day. She made sure that her carbon footprint was as small as possible and not just her footprint either, she would cleanup trash from parking lots, parks, beaches, etc. and recycle every bit. She was also the most energy efficient person I know and believe me she would let you know when you’re being wasteful of anything. She wanted to change the world and save the environment and it is my goal to make sure her legacy of caring for this planet will live on. Please slow down, be aware of your surroundings and dispose of your trash properly.
“The most important thing in life is family.” Laura lived by this every second of her life. She always put herself last when it came to family and she would put her goals aside so that whatever task needed to be done she gave it her full attention. She gave so generously of herself, time and energy just as Jesus did. He is who she modeled her life after. Laura loved taking care of her family and it brought her joy and of course aggravation, she would be laughing at that last description because family is annoying sometimes, but they’re also the ones that loved you unconditionally and never let you down. That is how our family loves and always will. The only thing Laura loved more than her human family was her furbabies. I do not have the ability to put into words to describe how much Laura loved her babies and I know she is still sending them love from heaven. Josie, Gypsie, Kashmir, Evie and Mavis were her everything and making sure they were cared for and happy was her ultimate goal. All holidays, birthdays and milestones were celebrated with our girls and we soaked in every moment.
Laura lived an amazing life, and she made such an impact on every life she touched, every animal she saved, every beach she cleaned and while we are still in this world it will always feel like somethings missing because God called her for something greater in heaven.
Laura is survived by her soulmate Mandy Lee Williams, mom Donna Lynn Echols, dad Alex Fox Echols, Jr., brother Alex Fox (Jessica) Echols, III, mammaw Juanita H. Miller, furbabies Evie Louise & Hollie Mavis.
Laura is preceded in death by her pappaw Trammel Clanton Miller Sr. (3/5/2015), furbabies Josie Lynn, Gypsie Rose and Kashmir Lucie.
Below are some of Laura’s favorite quotes by those she admired:
I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay. – Madonna
The more you are like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique. – Walt Disney
I wasn't like a girly girl. I was a tomboy. – Penny Marshall
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful. – Alice Walker
Animals don't lie. Animals don't criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do. – Betty White
You shouldn’t dream your film; you should make it! – Steven Spielberg
Things that will be missed most about Laura:
Her hilarious commentary and insight on this world and the people in it.
Her thriftiness and how she always made us order Wendy’s on the app because she loved earning points for free items and customizing every burger.
How she recycled everything and made sure it went to the right facility.
She would always make you start at the beginning of a trilogy even if you have seen it a million times, and you just want to watch the second movie.
How she knew anything and absolutely everything about music and could name the artist, song, album, year it was released and give an artist bio quicker than Shazam.
I will miss seeing her sitting at my desk organizing her music collection.
I will miss volunteering at the Mobile Public Library Annual Book Sale with her.
Our late-night surprise visits with momma and mammaw.
Staying up all night binge watching our favorite tv series.
Her wonderful laugh and smile that would light up the darkest night.
The way she would look at me and I would know exactly what she was thinking and vice versa.
Our trips to Gulf Port to shop at the Disney Store with momma singing the whole way.
Christmas shopping for our children’s charities.
How we would rescue feral cats and domesticate them.
Watching movies in our RV that we renovated together.
Going shopping at Ross.
Babysitting our Foxy girl.
I will miss our amazing classic NES Game Nights.
Having family movie night every weekend.
Moe Mondays, Taco Tuesdays and your surprise dinners cooking with leftovers.
Going to Lucedale.
Coming home to fill her in on my day when I have been out running errands all day.
Going to the movies.
Spending time with the girls.
Disney World will never be the same without her.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to one of the organizations listed below. AAGPBL changed Laura’s life and these ladies deserve our support more than ever. The Mitchell Cancer Institute and staff are incredible, and we know God put them in our path.
Thank you all and we hope to see you at Laura’s Memorial which will be held at Hank Aaron Stadium on April 16, 2021 from 3-8pm. Masks are required and if you have any signs of illness please stay at home.