Laura Levita Collard was born on April 30, 1938 in Ripon, California. Laura was a valley girl and never lived farther than 30 miles from her birthplace. She lived in Manteca for 47 years and Turlock for 30 years.
Laura was the second of three generations to graduate from Manteca High School and, as a young woman, loved to sing and was part of an all girls’ choir that performed at various religious functions. Even though she later gave up singing for an audience, one could always identify her beautiful voice when singing with her in church. Her favorite hymn was “Amazing Grace.” She also loved the song, “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” from “The Man of La Mancha.”
She married Jack D. Potter in 1957, when she was 18, and had four children. In 1975, at the age of 37, Laura discovered her professional calling in Psychology and Sociology. She earned an AA degree from Delta College and both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees at California State University, Stanislaus. She was an honors student and passionate about education. She worked at CSU, Stanislaus as both a counselor advisor and an adjunct professor lecturer. She retired as the Assistant Director of Student Advising in 2002. She loved her job and was loved by her students.
It was at Stanislaus University that she met her second husband, Clyde V. Collard. They were married in 1987 and established residence in Turlock. She described these years as “the golden years,” when her marriage, professional life, and visits with children and grandchildren gave her life purpose and meaning. She also found her spiritual home at the First Methodist Church in Turlock.
Laura loved the early morning hours and would walk five miles each morning with her dearest friend, Peggy Jenkin. When traveling, whether to Hawaii or Virginia, Laura would make time to walk. Her favorite trail was along the coast of Monterey, where she and Clyde visited regularly. She also adored shopping trips with her sister, Mary.
In one of Laura’s favorite films, “The Wizard of Oz,” the wizard says, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.” Laura proved that to be true, as she was loved dearly by family, friends, and anyone that came to know her. Her generous, accepting spirit was like a magnet that drew people to her and created lasting bonds.
Laura is survived by her husband, Clyde Collard, sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Marion Bates, children, Don, Larry, Chris, and Gaynl Potter, grandchildren, Jonathan, Graham, Leah, and Christopher Potter, daughter-in-law, Denise Briggs Potter, and surrogate daughter, Pamela Smith. She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Octavia McAlary, her brother, Robert McAlary, her sister, Myrna McAlary Downing, and her nephew, Robert Downing Jr.
Laura’s family would like to thank her faithful, loving caretakers, Phyllis Hawkins and Tammy Patrick for the kind and compassionate care they provided her.
A graveside service will be held at Turlock Memorial Park on Tuesday, March 29th, at 9:30 a.m. A memorial service at the First United Methodist Church, located at 1660 Arbor Way in Turlock, will be held at 11:00 a.m. A reception at the church will follow. All who knew and loved Laura are welcome to join in honoring her life.