Laurette Phyllis Nordt was born at home in Astoria, New York on February 7, 1922, 15 minutes before her twin sister Lucille, to Phillip & Johanna (Rienemann) Nordt. She often fondly reminisced of her time spent at her family’s weekend bungalow on Mastic Beach on Long Island where as a child, she spent weekends helping her parents clear the land to build their cabin, as well as picking wild blueberries, blackberries and beach plums. During those years, Laurette and her sister Lucille also had fun performing trapeze and acrobatics shows after having learned the skills from neighbors who were traveling Vaudeville artists. As she came of age, she loved spending time at the beach with friends. Laurette completed high school in Floral Park, New York at the age of 16 and then traveled daily to Manhattan where she worked in corporate invoice investigation operations to save money for college. Laurette paid her own tuition and attended the City College of New York during the evenings after work, where she took courses in accounting and economics. During World War II, she changed positions and worked long days handling payroll issues at the Sperry Gyroscope Company while still attending classes at night.
Laurette met her future husband, James C. Lewis while still working that war job in New York. The two married in 1945 and moved to Detroit where their son Jim was born in June 1946. Later that year they moved to West Allis, Wisconsin where they started a successful metal pattern-making and foundry tooling business. On a small lot next to the railroad tracks they built their house from a garage kit and a machine shop from concrete blocks since that was the only thing available after WWII. Their daughter Janet (Zanotti) was born in Nov of 1947. In 1952 the West Allis house became the business office as Laurette and James moved their family to a new house in Hales Corners, Wisconsin just before their youngest child, daughter Marsha (Judge), was born. Here they enjoyed years of raising a family in suburban Milwaukee interspersed with the yearly winter month long vacations in Florida. During that time Laurette continued to do the accounting for their business and managing a busy household.
After her husband’s passing in 1972, Laurette subsequently sold the business to her son Jim, though she still did the accounting. The two working together enjoyed decades of profitability as Jim expanded the business with the addition of a new division of the company in custom machine automation that filled the needs of major American brands ranging from Harley Davidson to International Harvester, Allis Chalmers and many others.
While taking an investments class, which knowledge she put to good use, she met Lloyd Broehm. The couple married in 1976 and had a wonderful 20 years together in which they enjoyed luxury travel abroad as well as living in several lovely homes in Greendale and Brookfield. They engaged in many artistic pursuits including painting and wood sculptures. Laurette welcomed Lloyd’s two sons, their wives and children as part of the extended family. When Lloyd passed away in 1996, the following year she retired to Arizona where her daughter Janet had moved and was raising her own family. In 2009 Laurette was joined in by her son Jim, and the following year by daughter Marsha.
While in SCW Laurette volunteered weekly for 10 years at the Property Owners and Residents Association (PORA). She enjoyed swimming in her pool and keeping up her yard. She made beautiful silver chain necklaces. Laurette was active in Desert Gardens United Church of Christ helping to decorate for the holidays and for years counted the Sunday offerings. In 2013 at the age of 91, she sold her home and bought a high rise apartment at the Colonnade where she lived until spring of 2018. She enjoyed her life there and her new friends.
When interviewed about her life, Laurette described herself as serious, strong-willed, hard-working and stubborn. Others might add artistic, polished, polite and impeccably dressed always with the perfect jewelry. She was well known for her ability to decorate a home and especially decorating for Christmas which she gladly shared by helping others. She knew how to identify visual beauty. Her children remember the uniquely carved Halloween pumpkins and the Ikebana flower arrangements that won her many awards. She extended the beauty to classy clothing and jewelry, amassing quite an amount over the years.
Laurette leaves behind her three children, Jim Lewis and partner Sue Fitzsimons in SCW, Janet Zanotti and son in law John Zanotti in Williams, AZ, and Marsha Judge in SCW, as well as five grandchildren (John Zanotti, Bob Lewis, Steve Lewis, Stephanie Judge and James Judge), eight great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, step daughters in law Sandy Broehm and Sharon Broehm and their children and grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents, twin sister Lucille, husbands James Lewis and Lloyd Broehm, son in law Tom Judge, step son Jack Lewis, and step-sons Jim and Jerry Broehm.
#7 was her lucky number. She died at Grandview in SCW Aug. 7, 2019 at the age of 97.5. A memorial service will be held in SCW at Grandview Assisted Living Building A Community Room at 2pm on Friday October 18, 2019.
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