Colorful historic figure and longtime floating homes community resident Laurabell Hawbecker was almost 92 when she died. Judyth Greenburgh, close friend of both Laurabell and Bob Kalloch (who died earlier this year), wrote:
Our dear friend Laurabell peacefully passed away November 30, 2016 at home with her teddy bear and rabbit in her arms and her faithful friend Ruth by her side. She had wanted to be home where she didn’t have to wear any stupid hospital gowns and could go the same way she came into this world. She will be missed by her family and all her friends. She can now freely tap dance on her houseboat with Bob playing the jug.
In a fitting tribute, Judyth made the following video five years ago—as something that could be enjoyed by Laurabell in her lifetime—and which Laurabell did enjoy watching, many times. Judyth describes the circumstances of making the video:
I made the video when I had to do a film project telling a family member’s story—I have no family in the USA being from the UK—but like many others Bob and Laurabell ‘adopted me’ so I considered them family. It was October 2011.
along with the short description accompanying the video:
Laurabell Hawbecker—talking about her life as a born entertainer. She is over 85 with a sharp sense of humor knowing how to laugh at herself and life. She has been my muse for many years now and a constant inspiration to me. I met her over 11 years ago on the houseboats in Sausalito. I bought her drum and she for some reason adopted me and took me to a lot of crazy hippy things. She was the catalyst of my demise from being an uptight Ad exec to letting the creative spirit run free. This project gives me the push to make a film celebrating her & that she can enjoy in her lifetime—not a memorial to be made after she dies.
On the occasion of Laurabell’s 91st birthday, Judyth put together this slide show of Laurabell and Bob’s life together.
And finally, in a personal remembrance to pull it all full circle, a personal note of Judyth describes how through knowing Bob and Laurabell she started the Charles Van Damme project:
Like others from the waterfront, I consider Bob Kalloch & Laurabell Hawbecker my family. They had a gift of giving the displaced people of our community a home. When I was a busy advertising executive Laurabell saw something in me I had yet to realize. I bought a drum from her and she dragged me into her crazy world of drumming – giving permission not to be excellent in things before trying it and introduced us to Darwin where we now reside. They literally changed my life. It’s due to wanting to preserve their spirit and their stories that I founded the Charles Van Damme Ferry project. It was a good fulcrum for all the stories they told me—a symbol of the spirit of the waterfront that they represented. It is my mission to keep this spark alive.
A memorial was held Saturday Dec 10th—in Inyokern at Jim Leonard’s, who was a Sawyer (musical Saw player) and who sadly passed away a few weeks prior to Laurabell. Many of her friends from the desert and Saline Valley attended.