Judith Cailotto Laughlin

May 13, 2017

Judith Anne Cailotto Laughlin passed away on May 13, 2017, grateful until the end for a good life that got better with grandchildren. She endured her share of heartbreak, losing a husband and their firstborn child, four-year-old Jimmy, to cancer. But she remained upbeat until the end, embracing the many blessings that God gave her.

Judith was born on Nov. 15, 1936, in Olney, Illinois, the only child of Peter Arthur and Leah Hope Cailotto. Her childhood was filled with music and tables of good food, thanks in part to her dad’s Italian heritage. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Southern Illinois University in 1957, and that wasn’t all: She married business student James LeRoy Laughlin on Aug. 31, 1957, and the two set out together to start a family. James Newman was born in 1959, but four years later was lost to leukemia. Three more children followed – Jonathan Claibourne, Stephen Prentiss and Rebecca Leah. Judith decided to devote her life to raising their children, and she did it with love, grace and strength.

Jim’s sales and marketing career at IBM took the family to East St. Louis (Ill.), Vienna (Va.), Manlius (N.Y.) and Boca Raton (Fla.). Everywhere they lived, Judith helped make it a happy home. She was the efficient type – one evening’s family meal became the next night’s leftovers. With Jim’s retirement, they settled in Carolina Shores in Calabash, N.C., near the beach, then moved to Indian Trail, N.C., in 2003 to be closer to their daughter, Rebecca, and grandsons Peter and Jimmy. Another untimely loss: After 13 years of retired life, cancer claimed Jim in 2006. He was just 73. In 2016, Judith moved to a senior living community in Longmont, Colorado, to be near her son, Stephen, and his family. With Judith facing health issues, and her daughter-in-law Janelle a doctor, it was a wise move, one she made with her customary good cheer.

Judith is survived by three children – Clai Laughlin of Charleston, S.C., Steve Laughlin and his wife, Janelle, of Longmont, Colo., and Rebecca Kerley of Indian Trail, N.C.; sister-in-law Carolyn Jackson of Shelby, N.C.; brother-in-law Chuck Laughlin and his wife, Lisa, of Charleston, S.C.; five grandchildren – Jackson Patterson, Anderson Claibourne and Emerson Rose Laughlin and Peter Edward and James Aaron Kerley; and four nieces and nephews – Jami Jackson Farris, West Jackson and Sarah and Alex Laughlin.

The family will receive friends at 10 a.m. Friday, June 16, at First Baptist Church, 109 Morrow Ave. in Monroe, N.C. A service to celebrate her life follows at 11 a.m. at the church led by Rev. Chris Dawson. The family will also host a barbecue and life celebration on Saturday, June 24, at the Longmont home of her son Steve’s family for her friends in Colorado.

A gift in her memory can be made to First Baptist Church, 109 Morrow Ave., Monroe, N.C. 28112, or the N.C. chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 401 Harrison Oaks Blvd., Suite 200, Cary, N.C. 27513. A donation to the Society will also remember their son, James Newman.

Judith loved playing bridge, swimming with friends (they called themselves the Aqua Divas) and doting late in life on Coco, her French poodle. Best of all – it wasn’t even close – was being Grandma to those five grandchildren, whether it was celebrating the holidays, talking on the phone, driving them to appointments, or cheering them on at their games. Even on a cane or walker, she was always there for them.

She knew loss. It made her appreciate the rest of life that much more.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth Poe Funeral & Cremation Services, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204. Online condolences at www.kennethpoeservices.com. Phone: 704- 641-7606.


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  • Linda Hill

    Just sending my love and want to say how very sorry I am. She was a special person and I will always remember her strength especially. I remember like it was yesterday going to Jimmy's funeral. She was about 4 months pregnant at the time with Stephen. We got through the funeral and were saying our goodbyes as we had a long drive back home. I hugged Judy and told her to go home and put her feet up and try to relax a while. She just shrugged her shoulders, gave me that smile and said "Oh I can't - I have a birthday party to go to". Turns out it was Clai's birthday and so she went from burying one son to the other's birthday the same day. Who does that - Judy! She met life with a smile and enthusiasm each day and will be missed greatly. Rest in peace sweet lady.

  • Lola Brown

    I first became acquainted with Judith over 20 years ago when Janelle and Steve were first dating and living in Chicago. I had only known Judith a few hours when I took Janelle aside and said "she would be a great mother-in-law." Of course, I was right! She indeed was a great mother and her children are a testimony to that. She was an incredible grandmother as she devoted so much time and attention to her five grandchildren, dividing her time and attention among them equally. Over the years she and I shared many "co-grand parenting" experiences. I so enjoyed all the time I spent with her and I am deeply saddened by her passing. I will miss her dearly. Rest in peace, my friend.