LaurieIn Loving Memory of Our Daughter, Sister, Co-worker, and Friend

Laurie Kay Dunkirk

March 25, 1966May 24, 2003

Oh, how we all miss her! There just are no words in my vocabulary to describe the emptiness we all feel since the death of our beloved Laurie Kay. No one could ever stay in a bad mood for very long after Laurie entered the room. She was the life of any party, any where, anytime! Since very early childhood she was destined for the spotlight. From her days in the Junior Pageants in San Clemente to her appearances as the MC for shows at the Wild Animal Park here in Escondido, her family knew her business was show business. She studied her craft diligently and she was good! At first, because of my own years in the entertainment business and knowing of the many heartaches and pitfalls associated with this way of life, I was skeptical. But after witnessing her stage presence at the Wild Animal Park shows, I realized that she did indeed have the talent to succeed.

Laurie Kay Dunkirk was born March 25, 1966 in South Laguna Beach, California to her parents Lawrence K. Dunkirk (also known as “Larrie Dee”) and Kathryn Ann Ozland – Dunkirk. I remember vividly the joy in her mother’s eyes that day as she first held her new born daughter. Laurie was very special even at birth. Actually, I first thought she was going to be a singer because of the volume of her lungs when she cried. Her older brother Scott absolutely adored his little sister as he has done throughout the years. That’s not to say that Scott did not revel in his share of teasing his sister as all boys are prone to do, but Laurie told me once that she felt that Scott was always there when she needed him. I am most positive that she now knows for certain the depth of her older brother’s love.

Laurie Kay was just a year old when her parents were divorced. Her mother subsequently remarried. While performing up in Minnesota, I met and married the lovely Tana Rydeen (we call her Tanya) of Stillwater, Minnesota. Returning to California several years later I was blessed with the opportunity to again have a relationship with my children. By this time Laurie Kay was almost eight years old going on forty. Wise way beyond her years and already well on her way to being interested in drama, Laurie could perform with the best. She had experience in various Junior Pageants in San Clemente when she was young and she really enjoyed the spotlight. There was never a doubt that Laurie was around when she came to visit us at our home in Palos Verdes, California.

Tanya welcomed Laurie into our lives as if she were her own daughter. Both Scott and Laurie Kay were so pleased to learn that they had two younger brothers Todd and Sean. Later, just after we moved to Escondido, we welcomed little Kellie into our home and Laurie was so happy to now also have a little sister. Laurie Kay loved her little sister and enjoyed baby sitting each time she came down from San Clemente. When Laurie was just a little over fourteen years old, I was granted custody and Tanya and I now had an instant teenager. Boy what an experience! Anybody who thinks girls are easier to bring up than boys never had a teenage girl! But while Laurie Kay did all the usual teenage tricks, she also was a joy to be around. Her beaming personality and social nature made her popular with just about everyone she met. There was never any doubt about her love for her younger brothers Todd Kenneth and Sean Michael. But her attention to her younger sister Kellie Lynn was similar to that of a mother hen watching over her young chick. Of course, now that she was the “oldest” at home she also pulled many of the tricks on her younger siblings that her older brother Scott had taught her.

Her middle school and high school activities brought a never ending stream of young people to our house. Between Todd, Sean, and Kellie’s friends plus Laurie Kay’s following, I would occasionally return home from a business trip to find upwards of 30 children around the swimming pool. At first I thought Tanya had contacted the neighborhood “Rent-A-Kid” office but later learned they were all invited by one or another of the children. Tanya loved it and was always happy to have the kids over to the house. This, of course, was not a place for people who like quiet days and peaceful evenings.

When her brothers each in time married and had their own children, Laurie became so comfortable with her new role as aunt Laurie. First in order of appearance (as they say on the silver screen) was her nephew Ryan Dunkirk, son of Scott and his wife Julie of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Next courtesy of Scott and Julie, came Lindsay and Nolan Dunkirk. Laurie never got to meet Scott and Julie's latest "production," Sean Andrew Dunkirk as he was born about five months after her death.

Todd and Sandy Dunkirk of Escondido, brought Andrew and Camille into Laurie's life and Sean and Brianna Dunkirk of Temecula added Michael and Amanda. There is no doubt that the seven oldest nieces and nephews miss their aunt Laurie very much. For months after the accident those children living locally asked about her on numerous occasions. She will be missed by so many who were touched by the opportunity to know her.

Most likely, judging by the many written tributes we received from her friends and co-workers, Laurie Kay’s sociability carried over into her adult life. Shortly after Laurie’s death, I received a telephone call from Yolanda King, the Reverend Martin Luther King’s daughter. Laurie Kay and Yolanda had worked and traveled together when Laurie was her personal assistant. Yolanda was heartbroken yet remained very strong. Her words of comfort and assurance were certainly inspired by the Holy Spirit as in my conversation with her it became very apparent this is a good Christian woman. What a comfort she was during that time and our entire family thanks her. She also wrote a nice letter to us and granted permission for the letter to be read at Laurie Kay’s Memorial Service. I am so pleased to know that Laurie had friends like Yolanda. There were so many others who also wrote but it would just be impossible to thank them individually on this page. Several Movie Production Companies including MDP Productions, FOX and others also wrote and called expressing their sympathy. Many sent flowers directly to the church or to our home. I have been somewhat remiss in not contacting all of them to say “Thanks” but there were so many things that needed attention and the time just slipped away from me. If any of them ever finds this page, I just want to express how thankful we really are for their consideration.

In addition to her acting and movie studio interests, Laurie Kay loved flying. She used to ask me about it because she knew her grandfather (my dad) was also a pilot back during the start of the Second World War and I too had a keen interest in aviation. My only advice to her was to be sure that she trained with a qualified instructor. Flying was one of her favorite pursuits and she was excited and thrilled to go up every chance that was offered. Exactly what happened that fateful day we may never positively know. The NTSB report is to this day is still inconclusive. We do know that Laurie Kay and her friend who was the pilot at that time were on their way to an air show in the Thermal, California. Shortly after take-off the plane went down in a remote area of Bennedict Canyon in Los Angeles County. The news story below is fairly accurate.

newsAs I was preparing the music for her memorial service, I came across a Bill and Gloria Gaither melody written back in 1975 entitled “We Have This Moment Today.” The lovely and gracious Tanya actually brought this song to me as she had recalled it from many years ago. I immediately noticed that the words were so appropriate and the melody so simple yet so beautiful. I felt that I just had to sequence an arrangement as part of the music for Laurie's service.

The point of this Gaither tune is that we have such few and precious moments together with the ones that we love. Bill and Gloria poignantly express that sentiment in this song. The time we share together with our loved ones is so priceless, but do we really savor that time spent together. As the singers at our church performed my arrangement of this song, and I again listened to the words, I wondered once more if I had really appreciated the time spent with Laurie as the father I could and should have been. Probably all parents who have gone through a similar tragedy feel this way. But, we realize soon that what God has placed within us by knowing Him is such a comfort to get us through those moments of doubt.

Below I have placed the words to that great Gaither tune and a MIDI file for everyone so that they can hear the actual arrangement used at Laurie Kay’s Memorial Service. The song was performed beautifully by Lee Ann Harris and Scott Stucky of our music ministry. Our music director Cheryl Hernandez was kind enough to record the entire service, and I may be able to make an MP3 file of Scott and Lee Ann’s great rendition.

A special thanks also to our Pastoral Staff at Grace Lutheran Church in Escondido for the comfort given us at this time. Senior Pastor James Young and Associate Pastor Patrick Miller did an exceptional job officiating at the service. My spiritual friend and mentor Pastor Samuel Gomez from our Hispanic Ministry, where I am pleased to serve as organist every Sunday, was such a comfort to me and really instilled some insights directly from the Word during this time of unsettlement. Our scripture reader, long time friend and local musical radio show host, Mr. Doug Best did his usual magnificent job in reading aloud the words to the song posted below prior to the singers' performance. Our Vicar, Phil Robbins and and facilities superintendent Scott Gary also merit a mention here for their outstanding service.

Just click on the little “Larrie Dee” bear to start the MIDI file. Listen to the melody and then replay the file and try singing along. You may not be able to sing along if you have recently lost a loved one. God Bless! lilbear

We Have This Moment Today

Words and Music By Bill and Gloria Gaither

Copyright 1975 Wm. J. Gaither, Inc.

This arrangement dedicated to the memory of Laurie Kay Dunkirk
March 25, 1966
-� May 24, 2003


Hold tight to the sound of the music of living, Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;

Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows, Making memories of what was today –


We have this moment to hold in our hands, And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday’s gone, And tomorrow may never come, But we have this moment today.

Second verse (Watch out for these words – I could not sing this that day and even today they choke me up!)

Tiny voice that I hear is my little girl calling for daddy to hear just what she has to say;

My little son running there by the hillside may never be quite like today –


We have this moment to hold in our hands, And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday’s gone, And tomorrow may never come, But we have this moment today.

Third verse

Tender words, gentle touch, And a good cup of coffee, And someone who loves me and wants me to stay;

Hold them near, while they’re here, And don’t wait for tomorrow to look back and wish for today –


We have this moment to hold in our hands, And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday’s gone, And tomorrow may never come, But we have this moment today.

Fourth verse

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest and the gold and the brown of the freshly mown hay,

Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn and weave you a lovely today –


We have this moment to hold in our hands, And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;

Yesterday’s gone, And tomorrow may never come, But we have this moment today.

Thank you all for your expressions of love.


Larrie Dee

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