Eppstein, Laurel Katherine 1/6/1950 - 3/1/2021 Kalamazoo Laurel Katherine Eppstein, Age 71, Kalamazoo, MI Passed away peacefully on March 1st, 2021, surrounded by family and love in her home. Laurel was born on January 6th, 1950 in Kalamazoo, to Dorothy Dodd Eppstein and Samuel Hillel Eppstein. She is survived by her loving family, including children Caitilin and Benjamin Soderstrom, granddaughter Niko Jane; siblings Betsy Downs, Debby Eppstein, Jon Eppstein, Maggie Eppstein; and her soul mate, Sandchin. She attended Galesburg-Augusta schools, studied Theater and Dance at WMU, graduated with a Bachelors in Human Nutrition Sciences from MSU, and later went back to KVCC for her Associates in Applied Science. She married Bruce Soderstrom in 1982 among the mountains of Vermont, which is where she gave birth at home to their daughter in 1984. She moved back to Michigan later that year to be closer to her mother, giving birth at home in 1985 to their son. Laurel loved being a Mom, and focused on raising their children for 5 years before re-entering the workforce. Ultimately, she found her place at NCASI in a job that stimulated her and gave her fantastic co-workers who became lifelong friends. She and Bruce divorced in 1996; she never remarried and was content with dancing to the beat of her own drum. Laurel loved exercise and wouldn't go a day without it. She also had a great love for nature and spending time outside. Her passions overlapped in numerous activities; she loved pickleball, biking, wallyball, rollerblading, cross country skiing, kayaking, hiking, dancing, and snorkeling. In addition, she also loved organic gardening, poetry, writing, music, good food, supporting local arts and music (including playing in several bell choirs) and (of course) cats. She was perhaps at her happiest surrounded by family, cocktail in hand, playing cards, and joining in the off-key singing. An active member of the Great Lakes Adventure Club, she took her first international trip with them in February 2015, kayaking in Belize. She had planned to spend her retirement taking more trips and doing lots of camping. Her first big post-retirement trip, in May of 2018, was a two-week journey visiting various European countries. She went to the Netherlands with her son and daughter in-law (Denise Tomlin). From there, her daughter joined them, to continue on for a European road trip! Little did they know that this would be their last "normal" time together. Flying home, a panicked sprint through the airport triggered her first ALS symptoms, and a hunt for the cause began. Post diagnosis, she managed to take 2 more international trips, first with her daughter to Costa Rica in Feb 2019, then in April to Italy with her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. She took 3 more trips in 2019, to visit family from coast to coast (CA to VT), including one last camping trip in northern MI. Covid hit and everything changed; she could no longer be visited by family and had yet to meet her granddaughter. Caitilin hatched a plan: buy a big house, move her out of her senior living apartment, and take on the role of full-time caregiver with her amazing husband (Bradley Horstman - without whom it would not have been possible). They found the place and kicked into 10th gear, enlisting the help of family to remodel the home to be wheelchair accessible in record time, and moved her in on June 12th, 2020. She declared it a "happy home" and spent much of her time on the deck, drinking in the nature that abounded in their beautiful creekside back yard. Here, she was able to have multiple extended visits throughout her final summer, fall, and winter holidays with all her siblings and her son's family, deriving much joy from spending time with them (especially her charming granddaughter!). Laurel was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease) in November of 2018. ALS is a devastating and under-researched disease, for which there is currently no effective treatment, and was responsible for cutting her vibrant life short. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her memory to the Susan Mast ALS foundation, a fantastic organization that provided her and her family with much support and comfort in her final years. SusanMastALS.org Virtual memorial to be scheduled, please send an email to LEPPSTEIN33@gmail.com if you would like to be notified.