And Now for the Hard Part – Farewell to a Friend


I’ve received phone calls and emails from people wondering who/what I was talking about when I penned the post, A Vegas Wineaux Loss.

Vegas Wineaux has been around for quite a few years. We have always been a hobby site and have enjoyed the friendship of many. Naturally, those whom we call friends have become “family”; in other words, those who are so close that they are the family that we choose.

Whether it’s the Vegas Wineaux Wine Club, which began in December of 2008 (TEN YEARS!) or this site, which began in fits and starts in 2006, there is a sense of family. I can’t tell you how many friends and surrogate “family” members I have since I became involved in the community of wine. 

Ready to Roll!
Ready to Roll!

I’m a very busy para-professional working about 45-plus hours a week at The Day Job™, which, at least until I retire, means that my wine focus has to be, by necessity, somewhat limited. That said, I do have my rituals, which includes my wine tastings at Marché and my Monday night Sommelier tastings.

The Monday night Somm tastings are a lot of educational fun, and we have become quite a tight-knit group. We are working on our certifications, and sometimes we pass, and sometimes we don’t.

One of our members who swears that he’s going to take the Introductory Sommelier exam is Andras. You know Andras from the envy-provoking chronicles of his honeymoon in Europe and South Africa.

And, unfortunately, that’s where the hard part begins. When Andras got engaged last year to Laurel despite his “I’m never going to get married again” protestations and married in April, we welcomed her into our fold. She had no desire for wine certifications but oddly enjoyed our company. Who knew.

Whenever she could make it, we enjoyed the camaraderie, and the affection that she shared with Andras was apparent (can you guys get a room, please???)

On Saturday, November 17, our monthly blind tasting was at Andras and Laurel’s beautiful home, and to quote an old homily, “a good time was had by all.” We began at about 6:30 pm and ambled out about 10:00 pm. My usually stellar (ahem) palate was less than stellar because this was one of our more informal events.

On Monday, November 19, I received a phone call telling me that Laurel had passed away. I stated frankly and flatly that I didn’t believe it. Period. There was a mistake, and someone was either pranking me or had gotten the news wrong.

Unfortunately, it was true. 

Laurel was not just a lovely person inside and out, but a very accomplished one. She was a judge in the Federal Bankruptcy Court and had overseen the financial issues of many, both individual and corporate (read casinos). Not only that, but she enjoyed the privilege of swearing in new American citizens. She was charming, loving, and down to earth. As I told Andras, she was such a wonderful, sweet, and loving person that it was hard to believe that she was a lawyer.

She was found in her chambers, where she had gone early to prepare for the week. Autopsy results are pending.

My “family” is diminished by the loss of an easily-loved person, and my dear friend Andras is a widower, having been married only seven months before enduring the worst loss that a partner could experience. “Devastation” can’t even begin to describe it. Our small family has embraced him and continue to hold him up in thoughts, love, affection, and prayers.

The Lovebirds
The Lovebirds

Because she was so young, it’s hard to try to figure out the “why.” None of it seems fair, but death, as they say, is a part of life. If you’re like me, you just wish that it didn’t happen.

Laurel, you were loved and appreciated by more people than you know. Your precious one is being cared for by our small, crazy, and loving family. While I really hope that Andras can write a tribute for his beloved, I don’t blame him if he cannot.


Do not stand at my grave and weep 
I am not there. I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glints on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning’s hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die. 

Mary Elizabeth Frye

Laurel’s obituary from the local paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.



Vegas Wineaux
Vegas Wineaux
Life now, especially after leaving the day job, is even crazier! I hope that you continue to follow and enjoy the wine and Vegas news!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles

What Are Your 99 Wines? (Part 14) (Spitting Margaux)

We simultaneously inhaled the majesty of this remarkable wine. We then took a sip. However, our presenter lifted a spit bucket. I asked, “Are you really going to spit a Château Margaux?!?”

Whiskey and Wine (Part 1 – Whiskey)

I will try all kinds of spirits, bitters, and liqueurs from time to time just for fun. But obviously, this blog isn’t called Vegas Wineaux for nothing. Wine’s my vibe.

What Are Your 99 Wines? (Part 13)

She was surprised when I said I lived in Las Vegas, as she had a good friend named Bob Cranston, who lives there. “Bordeaux Bob,” I responded.  “I know him well.”

What Are Your 99 Wines? (Part 12)

 I am still not a spirits drinker, but I will be forever grateful that the tequila maker shared the Clase Azul with me that evening.