Cover photo for James Laurilla's Obituary
James Laurilla Profile Photo
1935 James 2023

James Laurilla

June 4, 1935 — July 12, 2023

James “Jim” Lee Laurilla, 88, of Unicoi, TN passed away peacefully on July 12, 2023, at

Lakebridge Skilled Nursing Facility after suffering from dementia for several years. Amedisys

Hospice provided loving care in his passing.

Jim came into the world on June 4, 1935, as summer and mosquitos welcomed him to Northern

Minnesota. Little did he know that a few months later he would be in the land that boasted some

of the coldest temperatures in America, a claim that he took great pride in bragging about to his

family and friends.

Jim was the oldest child of Carl and Aune “Esther” (Konu) Laurilla, the big brother of sisters

Kay (Gary Eiden) and Sally (Wendel Gilbert). He adored his extended Finnish family in northern

Minnesota, and loved his small town of Bigfork for all of the opportunities it gave to him. It was

the decision to join the Air Force at the age of 17 that really changed the trajectory of his life.

His time in Okinawa, Japan as a radio operator was formative and offered him the chance to see

the world and to go to college with the GI Bill. In college, he also met his future bride, Sandy

(Rengel) Laurilla who would be the person who gave his life wings. With Sandy he would raise

three great kids, Eric, Shelley (Brian O’Malley) and Kristen (JP Aragon) spending most of his

career living in Springfield, Virginia and commuting to DC working for FDIC as a Personnel

Management Specialist.

Jim came from a lot of love but very little materially (no running water nor indoor plumbing), so

he knew what was important even when he had more to offer his own family. He loved spending

weekends at Lake Anna camping, fishing, and boating with the family. He taught his kids to fish,

garden and to build things. He also showed them how to appreciate the earth and to respect

people who put in an honest days work. Civil rights were not just words to Jim, they were the

cornerstone of who he was. In retirement, Jim and Sandy made their home in Unicoi, TN, had

great road trip adventures, and enjoyed winters in New Port Richey, FL where they enjoyed time

with old and new friends alike. Jim credited Sandy, his faith, and the AA and Al-Anon programs

for his 43 years of sobriety. It gave him the opportunity to joyfully be present in the lives of those

he loved and set a wonderful example for others of how to believe in themselves and to

persevere, even when things were difficult.

Jim is preceded in death by his parents, sisters, and his son Eric. He is survived by his loving

wife Sandy, his daughters and their husbands, along with his wonderful grandchildren Shannon,

Lauren (Jared Stephenson), Luke (Shelley), and Natalie and Camden (Kristen).

The family of Jim Laurilla will receive friends from 9:30am until 11:00am on Tuesday, August 1,

2023, at St Mary’s Catholic Church (2211 E Lakeview Drive, Johnson City, TN). The viewing

will be followed by a funeral Mass at 11:00am, officiated by Fr. Dustin Collins. Light

refreshments will follow after the service at the church. There will be a committal service the

following day, at 2:00pm on Wednesday, August 2, at Mountain Home National Cemetery

(Historic). Please meet at the cemetery by 1:50pm.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family via

Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2001 E Oakland Ave, Johnson City,

Tennessee, is honored to serve the Laurilla family. (423) 282-1521

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Laurilla, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

9:30 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Committtal Service

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Mountain Home National Cemetery

53 Memorial Avenue, Johnson City, TN 37684

Please meet at the cemetery by 1:50 pm

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Mountain Home National Cemetery (Annex)

, Johnson City, TN 37684

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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