The inexhaustibly compassionate, silly and immeasurably brilliant Dr. Laura Lee Reid, wife of Louis Cossutta, mother to Sarah Conca, Katy Decker and Eben Cossutta, died on Monday, August 18, unexpectedly and peacefully in her home in Chilmark after a life of hell-raising, vacuuming and joy-spreading. She was 60.
A physician and resident of Martha’s Vineyard for over 20 years, Laura was known for her loving and humble bedside manner and generosity of spirit to anyone in need of treatment or care. She also loved plants, bright colors, perfectly shaped beach rocks, ice cream with jimmies, cashmere sweaters, laundry, Robert Smith, aliens and roller coasters. Her taste was impeccable, her house immaculate, and her mind a work of art.
After graduating first in her class in eighth grade and completing her own application, she was accepted to Milton Academy on full scholarship. She became a straight-A student with the goal of studying biomedical engineering to design a prosthetic eye for her beloved sister, Sandy, who was blind since birth.
After the surprise blessing of her first daughter, Sarah, in 1971, Laura pursued a degree in biomedical engineering at Boston University, again on full scholarship. Then there was work at the MBL in Woods Hole, and then on to engineering school. After two years of work at Harvard Apparatus, she pursued a medical degree at UMass Worcester Medical School to help her better achieve her goal of helping others. While working as a resident, she purchased her first home, made it beautiful, and had her second daughter, Katy, who was allowed to choose her own disastrous shade of pink for her first bedroom.
In 1985 she overpowered an armed gunman in a multi-hour hostage crisis at Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, where she was a third-year emergency room resident after, as quoted in The Courier, she “just grabbed the damn gun.” A single mom with two small children, she decided to move her family to Falmouth, and then to Chilmark, in search of a more peaceful lifestyle and work environment.
The Island quickly became her Eden, where she fell in love with not only its beaches, residents and her amazing gardening projects and fish ponds, but also the love of her life Louis Cossutta and her beloved stepson Eben, her “confidante and partner in crime.”
Although her life was often hard and she was sometimes neglectful to her own needs, she was tireless in her drive to help others, sharing her own personal struggles and hardships, thus allowing her patients and friends the freedom to share what was needed for recovery without fear of judgment or shame.
Though she will be missed, those who love her know she is somewhere magical (possibly a spaceship), pain-free, dancing on roller skates to The Cure’s Fire in Cairo, with her dear departed friend Andrew, wearing too much hot pink and turquoise, but looking as fabulous as always.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 30, from 1 to 3 p.m. (beginning promptly at 1 p.m.) at the West Tisbury Grange Hall. Bright colors, 80s makeup, and laughter suggested.