Obituary of Edith Lauler Berrena
Edith (Edie) Lauler Berrena, 87, died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones in the early morning of July 20 following an extended illness.
Edie was born in Pittsburgh on April 12, 1933, to John W. Lauler, MD, and Ruth Crandall Lauler. She grew up in Jersey Shore with her four siblings—John, Ruth (Hernandez), David, and Terry (Sweitzer)—all of whom were accomplished pranksters. She was the sole survivor of her family. She described her childhood as idyllic, with many summers spent in Saratoga, NY. From her dear father, she developed a love for Christmas that she passed down to her children. Blessed with both brains and beauty, she received numerous scholastic accolades as well as being named the second-ever Flaming Foliage Queen in Renovo in 1950.
Edie was a lifelong member of the Roman Catholic faith with a fondness for attending daily Mass. She attended both Our Lady of Victory and Good Shepherd Catholic church over the years. Her special devotions to Holy Mary and Saint Jude Thaddeus served her well throughout her life. She graduated summa cum laude from Mercyhurst College with a degree in medical science, which led her to an early career as a medical assistant to renowned nephrology pioneer George Schreiner, MD, at Georgetown University Medical School.
In 1956, Edie married Harold J. Kissell (dec.) with whom she shared three children—Deedee Juliá (dec.), Trish (Jay) Hummer of State College, and Cathy (Michael) Williams of Toccoa, Georgia. During their marriage, they lived many places, but her favorite spots were Hawaii and Bronxville, NY. Edie and her family learned to ride horses and spent years showing hunters on the show circuit, first at Boulder Brook Club in Scarsdale, NY, and ultimately under the Kentwood Farms banner in Bedford, NY. She was proud of having personally selected her prized bay mare, Thumbs Up, after seeing her simply grazing in a Western Maryland paddock.
In 1974, following her divorce, Edie moved her family to State College to be closer to her sister Terry. She began working at Penn State, first at Ritenour Medical Center, then as a program administrator in the Graduate Program in Health Planning Administration. During the summers, she could be found at the Teener League fields in State College, heckling opposing pitchers who were playing against her nephews. That was when she earned the nickname “Crazy Aunt Edie.” Following in her mother’s footsteps, she became a diehard Penn State football fan and knew how to throw a mean tailgate.
Edie dedicated many years raising “her girls,” who included her daughters and two granddaughters (Dominique and Desiree). She was strict but fun-loving, known for firm curfews, strict manners, and some now-outdated rules that her children still thank her for.
As a grandma, Edie always showed up to “launch” each new baby in the family until her health no longer allowed it. No one could get a baby “on schedule” like Grandma. She made chores fun by twirling around the house dusting while blaring waltzes. Her off-tune singing of “You Are My Sunshine” remains a family legend.
Edie was always a proponent of tennis as a lifelong sport. When her youngest daughter excelled in the sport, she followed her career through college, never missing a single match. She served as the local mom for a number of Penn State’s Women’s Tennis players during those years.
In 2000, Edie married Louis Anthony Berrena, Jr., who would become her loving partner for nearly 20 years. Lou was her beloved, and she told him every day that he was the best thing that ever happened to her. She meant it. Their early marriage was marked by extensive travel, including three cruises and multiple trips to St. Michaels, MD. These trips took them on adventures that included helicopters, tall ships, and biplanes. She loved their Saturday night dates that would start with afternoon Mass and end with dinner, sitting at the bar at Kelly’s Steak and Seafood in Boalsburg and chatting with the bartenders there. Edie loved to rattle off the total count on their combined families—11 children, 31 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren—to the amazement of anyone who would listen. They were graced by many close friends during their years living in English Meadows.
Edie was an elegant woman who enjoyed Penn State Creamery ice cream, cake, a stiff Old Fashioned, a good steak, Chico’s, her weekly salon appointment at Portfolio, celebratory dinners at The Tavern, and cheering on Penn State football. She had a childlike love of trips to the beach, where she abandoned all sense of elegance. Her laugh, especially when laughing at herself, was robust and unstoppable. She loved her family with her whole heart and will be missed most by those who called her Sweetie, Mom, Grandma, GM, and GG.
Edie was predeceased by her parents, siblings, eldest daughter, and two grandsons. Those who survive are too numerous to list here.
Edie’s family would like to thank those who sought to make her last years easier, including her dear friends Peggy Uchno and Mary Hugill, as well as her care teams from Comfort Keepers, Juniper Village, and especially Grane Hospice of Altoona.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a private graveside service at the convenience of the family. Interment of ashes will be at Graysville Cemetery. There will be a full Mass to celebrate her life once everyone is free to gather and hug each other without risk. That date is to be announced.
Funeral arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com
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