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Athlete, law school grad, Army captain, wife, teacher, world traveler - her life was full.
By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published December 9, 2007
HUDSON - She once spent 17 days cycling along the Baltic from the Danish border to the Polish border. She hiked through the Grand Canyon. She ran a marathon in Germany.
But now, she could only sit in a recliner and watch Animal Planet on television. Her new body was a stranger, infiltrated by medications, steroids and radiation.
She never complained or wallowed. But every so often, her husband would see a single tear escape from her eye as she watched the animals roam free.
It was at these times he would remind her - this was not her. This was the disease.
* * *
Lori Jorgensen-Gensecke was soft spoken but resilient.
As a child, her brother, Ronald, bit her on the ear. She cried and threatened to tattle. But she never did tell.
She came from a blue-collar, Staten Island family. In high school, she excelled at sports, especially high jump, and was intrigued by the opportunity the military offered.
While stationed in Germany, she met Joachim Gensecke, who served with her in the Army.
He remembers her long hair and the white and yellow highlights that streamed down the side of her fresh face. And how even then, she didn't fuss over herself.
Fraternizing was not allowed, so they kept their love secret. In 1988, after she made the rank of captain, they chose to trade the military for a civilian life together. They boarded a plane bound for America. At 30,000 feet, he turned to her. "Lori, we left our chains behind."
Four days later, they married.
* * *
Not many people suspected Mrs. Jorgensen-Gensecke was a secret scholar. But she had a law degree, a master's, and no desire to be a lawyer.
Instead, she taught physical education at Seven Springs Elementary and, later, reading at Bayonet Point Middle.
She stayed up late making lesson plans and class materials, all organized in binders. In class, she was strict, but she refused to chide students in front of others. Instead, she took them aside.
For years, she volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, guiding a troubled D student who later became class president. But she never wanted children of her own. She focused on church, her husband and her golden retrievers, Boris and Buergermeister. She played tennis, swam and traveled the world.
She stayed active, always.
* * *
The headaches started in spring. Maybe it was stress from FCAT testing, she thought.
But they didn't go away, and she couldn't get in to see a doctor. So her husband burst into a neurologist's office and pleaded with the staff to see his wife. That day, she was rushed to the hospital. A malignant, star-shaped tumor was taking over her brain.
In August, when she learned she had six months to live, she cried for 15 seconds. She took a Carnival Cruise with her husband through the Cayman Islands, Belize and Honduras. In their balcony room, they hugged and watched the waves.
In October, Bayonet Point Middle's football team dedicated a game to her by wearing pink stickers with her initials on helmets. She was touched, but frustrated because the cancer made it hard to communicate with friends.
On Saturday morning, Mrs. Jorgensen-Gensecke died. She was 46.
Nurses told her husband that someone so sick should have died days earlier. But her heart was strong.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 893-8857.
Born: Sept. 8, 1961.
Died: Dec. 8, 2007.
Survivors: husband, Joachim Gensecke; mother, Tanya Jorgensen; siblings, Sharon, George Jr. and Ronald; four sisters-in-law; two brothers-in-law; seven nieces; seven nephews; four grandnieces; six grandnephews.
Services: Visitation at 5 p.m. Tuesday with service at 6:30 p.m. at Prevatt Funeral Home, 7709 State Road 52, Hudson.
[Last modified December 8, 2007, 20:55:19]