Laurie Larue Tsuchiya, 55, of Waco went to be with her Lord and Savior, having passed away peacefully at her home in China Spring on Saturday, November 2, 2019 after four years of struggling against cancer.
Memorial Service: 1:00 PM Saturday, November 16, 2019 at Lake Shore Funeral Home.
A short gathering of family and friends will take place following the service. Please dress casual.
Laurie was born in Waco on March 27, 1964 to Don and Sherry Castello. She graduated from Waco High and received her Bachelor’s degree in Geology and Master’s degree in Earth Science from Baylor. She sang in the choir and played basketball and volleyball at Waco High. She also played a year of volleyball for Baylor until a major knee injury curtailed her athletic endeavors.
On August 15, 1986 Laurie married Jim (Hinano) Tsuchiya after having met on the volleyball court at the former Waco Athletic and Racquet Club (Spenco). It was rumored that Jim had gotten her attention by attempting to bite her on the leg. During their early years of marriage, Laurie decided that if she wanted to see Jim on the weekends she would have to learn to play golf. She eventually was able to consistently shoot in the 80’s. Jim and Laurie took frequent ski trips, usually to areas in Colorado and New Mexico. Over time with a lot of practice (and tons of help from her favorite ski buddy) she became an advanced skier, always enjoying turning “eights” with Jim in fresh powder. They still have property in Pagosa Springs, CO. She also loved visiting her in-laws, making multiple trips to Hawaii over the years.
Before a job transfer took them to Florida, Laurie taught at McLennan Community College. She then taught at Polk Community College in Winter Haven, FL and Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL. Another transfer landed them in Bakersfield, CA where Laurie became active in teaching elementary school science at Country Christian School. She enabled the school to expand a grade by becoming their fifth grade teacher. Both of their sons attended Country Christian. Two more moves got Laurie and expanded family to Louisiana then to Orange, TX where she taught at both Little Cypress-Mauriceville Junior High and High Schools. The moves just happened to coincide with her sons’ passage through those schools. Laurie used to say that Earl Thomas would never have made it to UT or the Seahawks without her help in math.
Laurie and family moved back to the Waco area in 2011 to be near her family. She of course, found a teaching position at LaVega High School and taught several math courses. At various times she coached basketball, volleyball and softball. But her greatest joy was to help those students who struggled the most with passing mandatory exams. She was instrumental in elevating the school’s state math test passing rates by over 30% during her first year there, and an additional 20% during her second year. It was in the classroom helping those that needed it most where she could repeatedly demonstrate the genuine caring and concern for her students’ success. She enjoyed teaching, but loved her students…well, most of them.
Laurie was preceded in death by her father Don Castello of Waco.
Laurie is survived by her husband, James H. Tsuchiya; sons; James Kahinano Tsuchiya (Becky) of Austin and Andrew Kale Tsuchiya of Waco; mother, Sherry Castello of Waco; three brothers; Kenneth Castello (Diane) of Waco, Charlie Castello (Amy) of Robinson and Bill (Steve) of Seattle, WA.
“Rue” will forever be remembered as one who made others’ lives better just by having known her. She was the most devoted wife and mother, the kindest and most generous friend, and the most committed teacher. All of this while never being able to deny a home to an animal in need.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions be made to Fuzzy Friends of Waco and/or The LaVega Pirates Education Foundation in memory of Laurie Tsuchiya (www.piratesfoundation.org) or call 254-299-6729.
Place of Service: Lake Shore Funeral Home , 5201 Steinbeck Bend; Waco, TX 76708