Laurel Lee (Pease) Martinez, 64, a longtime resident of Rhinebeck, Red Hook, and Tivoli, passed away at her “crooked dinky dollhouse” on June 6, 2020 surrounded by her husband Rich and loving family after a courageous battle with cancer. Her husband, Richard “Rich” Martinez, son Jonathan Philips Welch and his fiancee Kayla, survive at their homes in Red Hook.
Laurel’s precious mom, Joan, was able to sit with her in her final days, holding her hand and sharing a lifetime of love and memories. Laurel was close to and dearly loved her younger brothers John, Bill, and Brian who remained by her side until her last breath, a sign of the bond they all so clearly cherish. Her niece Sheri Monaco and sister-in-law Terry Pease as well as many close friends were able to give her comfort in the days leading up to her passing.
Born on April 4, 1956 in Mineral Wells, Texas, Laurel was the oldest and only daughter of Joan Ann (Philips) Pease and the late Arnold Snow Pease. Her father served in the Army and by the time her first baby brother John arrived in June 1957, Laurel had returned to Rhinebeck with her Mom to await her Dad’s return, living the rest of her life in Rhinebeck, Tivoli or Red Hook.
In addition to her beloved brothers, Laurel’s extended family was a close-knit tribe of aunts, uncles and cousins who often got together to celebrate life and support each other in crisis. Those gatherings created bonds that Laurel nurtured, cherishing her visits and conversations with so many late into the night. Our beloved Laurel was a night owl, who loved her family, friends, students, pets, coffee, and a clean, welcoming home. Laurel cherished her summers with her sons, family and friends and more recently with her beloved Gabriel Patrick Welch (Magoo), Sonja Alexis Welch (Doolittle) and daughter-in-law, Cayla (Patrick) Welch, lovingly nicknamed “Cayla June”. They would find a family pool or a swimming hole, Laurel always reminding us to be safe. When they weren’t swimming, Laurel and her family could be found cleaning with the music turned up, dancing, singing, rearranging her home into the wee hours of the morning. But if it was early, Laurel could be found sound asleep amidst any chaos.
If you had time with Laurel, she always made you feel special and cherished…. and if you needed someone to listen to, laugh with or help you, there was nothing Laurel wouldn’t do for someone she loved. If you were lucky enough to find an open seat at Laurel’s table, Laurel would always be there with her sweet coffee and, of course, her cigarettes. Family and friends tried to encourage and support her in quitting - Laurel’s biggest regret in this life was not being able to break her addiction so she could be with us longer.
Laurel’s mission in this life was to care for, protect and nurture little ones. Always a teacher, Laurel loved crafting, drawing, making playdough for, reading with and listening to the little ones in her life, nurturing their love of learning. She adored her beloved sons, Jonathan Philips (her Stinky then and sometimes now) and the late Patrick John (her Pookie), grandchildren, Gabriel (her Magoo) and Sonja (her Dolittle), and so many nieces and nephews. Laurel was known to be taking care of and advocating for her family and friends. Gabriel, Sonja and Cayla’s arrival on her door renewed Laurel’s purpose and with a bit of shuffling and open arms, her “crooked, dinky dollhouse” came alive for her beloved grandchildren. It was their snuggles that lifted her spirits. May Gabriel and Sonja feel their Nanny’s love floating on the breeze and shining down upon them in the days ahead.
Laurel was “Queenie” to her husband, Rich, who was her partner and her rock. Laurel and Rich were among the earliest of online dating success stories, meeting in a chat room in the 1990s and finally tying-the-knot in December 2010. Their bond was made clear in their simple day-to-day life: sharing a home, a coffee, a meal, a visit, providing for family, making time for friends, a walk on the bridge, sitting at the kitchen table, or being grandparents. Rich, lovingly called “Grumpy”, is anything but that on the inside. He knew how to calm her worries and ease her pain, especially in the time, space, and the closeness he shares with their grandchildren Gabriel and Sonja and with their Mom, Cayla. Knowing all too well the strains of a second marriage, Laurel cared deeply for Rich’s sons Michael and R.J. whose love for and bond with Laurel grew through the years. May R.J. and Michael know her love lives on in them as they gain another angel.
Laurel had an abundance of close friends, too many to name - each clearly special to Laurel and forever close to her heart. Laurel especially cherished her “Trilogy”: A lifelong friend in Karen (Pete) Peluso, Jean (Jeff) Raymond and Kathy Wiley whose friendships could always be counted on and extended past Laurel, embracing her entire family. Laurel became big sister to her first sister-in-law, Lorraine Salmon, in 1979. The two shared a sisterly love and bond that lasted the rest of Laurel’s days. Roger Rifenburgh and the late Bob Diffie were like brothers, beloved by Laurel for the many laughs through the years and for razzing her brothers. Laurel shared her love of music and song with Maggie Rothwell who Laurel asked for voice lessons while Maggie taught music and Laurel subbed at Pine Plains. Those lessons resulted in so much love, laughter and friendship which especially comforted Laurel in her last days with Maggie’s beautiful rendition of John Denver’s Perhaps Love. Maggie’s voice helped Laurel and her family in her darkest hours for which we all are eternally grateful.
An adored teacher, Mrs. Martinez (formerly Mrs. Welch) was known for her recess dance parties with her students. She loved teaching them and all they taught her in return. Laurel loved keeping in touch with her students and their families and held so many little ones in her heart. Laurel was comforted by so much love from them in her last days.
Whether you were her mother, son, brother, niece, nephew, student, friend or beloved husband, those lucky enough to have had Laurel in their lives will miss her love and infectious laughter, her smile, and the twinkle in her eye we were always sure to catch while she read a story, sang a favorite tune, with or without the music playing, or danced, even if no one was watching. If you were lucky, you got to dance or sing with her.
Laurel is survived by her husband, Richard Martinez, her son, Jonathan Philips Welch and his fiancee, Kayla Bruno of Red Hook, NY, and her mother, Joan Ann (Philips) Pease of Staatsburg, NY; her beloved grandchildren Gabriel Patrick and Sonja Alexis Welch and daughter-in-law Cayla (the late Patrick) Welch of Milford, PA; her brothers A. John Pease of Wappingers Falls, NY; William (Bill) and Terry Arco Pease of Staatsburg, NY; Brian Pease and Nicolee "Nikki" Pease of Poughkeepsie, NY; and step-sons R.J. Martinez and Michael Martinez, both of Ballston Spa, NY.
Laurel, “Aunt Laurie”, lives on through loving and adoring her nieces and nephews. Her kind honesty, support and opinions could be counted on by Sheri (Nick) Monaco, Ashley (Austin Stellato) Pease, Lindsey (Erik) VanEtten, Amber Pease, Billy (Kazimera Morse) Pease, Austin Dremann-Pease, Kwincey & Jordan Pease, Drew Grace, Charlotte & Rhys Monaco, Maxton & Bryce VanEtten, Addison & Mason Levanti and Maci Stellato. Folded in with the cousins through the years were her trilogy’s children, Jessica (Peluso) LoPresti & Matt Peluso, Ashley Kilbride, Brittany (Secor) Torelli, Stacie (Secor) Fanelli, Jason Wiley and his daughter, Laurel’s “fairy goddaughter” Ava Wiley.
Laurel rests peacefully with her son Patrick John Welch II, father Arnold S. Pease, her grandparents: Maud (Wetzler) Philips, William and Alva Philips, Howard Wilson Merritt, Evelyn (Day) and Arnold Pease; aunt and uncles Ginny (Merritt) Heisel, Francis “Franny” Shanley, Tom “Rab” Rabbett and Arnold Simmons and her cousins, Frances Joan “Frannie” Shanley, Arnold Joseph “Joey” Woods and Arnold Simmons as well as so many loved ones that passed before.
Laurel was the niece of Betty (Jack) Woods, Kay Shanley, Shirl Rabbett, Peggy (Jim) Lane, Howie (Dan Larrimore) Merritt and Gerry (Merritt) Simmons. Laurel also cherished her cousins, many close to her, including Jack (Sheila) Woods, Cheri (Frank St. Armand) Johnston, Fred (Barb) Woods, Margie Shanley, Julia DeGregoria (Jenn Leale), Melissa (Al) Ottman, Norm (Lisa) Shanley, John (Stacia) Hansen, Cindy (Scott) Rathjen, Tommy Rabbett, Jamie Lane, Jackie Lane, Jeremy Shadwick, Mandy Shadwick, Gerry (Bob) Lown, Evvie (Jim) Fluegel, Diana Simmons, and David (Lori) Simmons.
Laurel wished for her family and friends to find comfort in knowing she loved you and that she fought to stay with us until the end. She is always going to be with us. In the wind on our cheeks or the flowers that blow in the meadow, in the lone fawn seen frolicking at the edge of the field or the butterfly that follows … We now have our very own guardian angel.
Inurnment will be a private family ceremony at the Rhinebeck Cemetery where Laurel will forever be alongside her beloved Nanny, Maude Philips. A Celebration of Life will be planned for a later date to which everyone will be invited to share their love and memories of Laurel.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Laurel’s memory may be made to the Go Fund Me account in support of her grandchildren’s education: