Laura Murrell passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Laura lived a full life, both challenging and rewarding. She was, among many other things, an advocate, a mother, a friend, a partner, a warrior, a sailor, a traveler and a grandmother.
She loved the practice of law, she loved watching birds from her kayak, she loved the sights and sounds of the beach, she loved providing a voice to those who weren’t heard, she loved cruise ships (especially those with sails), she loved her friends and she loved her family.
She grew up in both Paducah and Harrodsburg as her parents Dennis and Valeria Larkins operated a plumbing store in Paducah and a dairy farm in Harrodsburg. She graduated early from high school so she could start at the University of Kentucky early, walking in the snow to the train station to pursue her dreams.
After graduating from UK with an economics degree, she enrolled at UK law school, one of very few women in her class. From there, she first clerked with the Kentucky Court of Appeals prior to accepting a position with the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, focusing on consumer rights. She excelled there, earning statewide recognition for leading the fight to break up AT&T’s monopoly in Kentucky and protecting Kentucky consumers from rate hikes requested by utilities. She then joined a small law firm in Frankfort, Kentucky headed up by the legendary Ed Pritchard (and whose roster included future Franklin Circuit Court Judges Bill Graham and Phillip Shepherd). Following a short stint running her own practice, she was appointed to Chair of the Kentucky Public Service Commission. Following that public service, she became in-house counsel for a successful natural gas trading company, eventually ending up in Houston, Texas, serving as in-house counsel for Tenneco and PG&E. She then retired from the practice of law and enjoyed the beach in Galveston, Texas, for many years.
She was far more than just a successful attorney who helped pave the way for other women to follow. Laura constantly worked to fight injustices. After a hurricane destroyed most of the public housing in Galveston, she worked with others from her church and from the community in obtaining funds for new public housing and then, once the funding was obtained, going door to door in Galveston to inform people of the opportunity presented.
In addition to her efforts to provide affordable housing to the residents of Galveston, she also worked tirelessly to support the establishment of a living wage for the employees on the island and to address income inequity. On January 28, 2016, the Galveston City Council (many of whom she sparred with over these issues) recognized her works with “Laura Murrell Day.”
She is survived by her children, Dennis (Gillian) and Catherine (Steve); her grandchildren, Ayla, Bronte, Harper and Samantha; and her great-grandson (Auden).
Laura was preceded in death by her parents and her younger brother, William Larkins.
While Laura has left this life behind, her legacy continues in both the good she did for people and the passion for doing the right thing that she inspired in her family and friends. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, www.act.alz.org/donate.
Due to current circumstances, a virtual service was held Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.