MADISON — Lois Cone Lurie, age 90, died peacefully at her home in Madison, Wis., on Jan. 18, 2020, a few weeks after celebrating the holidays with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends. She was born Lois Irma Cohen on March 12, 1929, in Passaic, N.J., to Robert James and Ella Levinson Cohen (later changed to Cone). A child of the Great Depression, Lois left home at age 15 to attend a program for high school students at the University of Chicago, while her father was recuperating from tuberculosis in Asheville, N.C. After the University of Chicago, she reunited with her family in Boston’s Beacon Hill and worked at her parents’ thriving, mid-century modern jewelry business, The Silversmith Shop, located on Boylston Street in Boston’s Back Bay. In Boston, she met her husband, Melvin, a scholar who was completing his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago. Lois and Melvin raised four children in Storrs, Conn., Kingston, R.I., and Middletown, Conn. before settling in Milwaukee, Wis.
Lois was a lifelong advocate for social justice causes. In the 1960s. she marched for civil rights with Father Groppi. In the 1970s, she was an active volunteer and supporter of Urban Day School, an experimental private school in Milwaukee’s inner city that was ahead of its time to advance educational equity. In addition to making cookies for bake sales, Lois founded and operated Grass Roots, a plant shop that donated its proceeds to the school. Three of Lois’s children graduated from Urban Day School. In the 1980s and 1990s, Lois worked as a consumer advocate in a bankruptcy law firm. She was never afraid to express her deeply-felt views on social issues and politics.
Lois was married to Melvin for 32 years until his passing in 1987. She moved to Madison, Wis. in 2002, where she enjoyed many years of retirement, living a few miles from her daughter, Susie, and her family. For the last 30 years of her life, Lois was focused on enriching the lives of her grandchildren and was engaged in every sporting event, graduation, wedding, theater production, concert, and other activity. Lois was an avid reader, world traveler, gardener, bird watcher, art collector, sports fan (mostly Badgers, Brewers and Bucks), and a master of New York Times crossword puzzles. Lois had a gift for making fast personal connections with others and was genuinely interested in everyone she knew.
Lois was preceded in death by her parents, Robert James and Ella Levinson Cone; husband, Melvin Lurie; and her brother, Herbert Richard Cone. She is survived by her four children, Jonathan (Pam) Lurie, Robert (Sara) Lurie, Alexander (Dorian Friedman) Lurie, and Susannah (Edward) Taylor; eight grandchildren, Samantha Lurie, Micah Hefty (Nicholas), Benjamin Lurie, Jennica Lurie, Jillian Lurie, Nicholas Taylor, Henry Taylor, and Mara Lurie; three great-grandchildren, Trevon Johnson, Cidney Nicholson, and Connor James; and two sisters-in-law, Syrul Lurie and Barbara Cone. She is also survived by Fiji, her loving Cairn-Doodle friend of 12 years, who brought her joy and unconditional love so long as her nightstand was well stocked with doggie treats.
Interment and graveside service was held on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, at Sharon Memorial Park, 40 Dedham Street, Sharon, Mass. A celebration of Lois’s life will be held at 12:00 noon, at the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., Madison, Wis. on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Donations may be made to Show Me the World Project, founded by Lois’s granddaughter, Samantha Lurie.
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