It is with sadness that we share with our community and loved ones that a pillar of the Maries County community has passed and along with her passes pieces of local history that will no longer be shared with us. Laura Ann Schiermeier was surrounded by family when she passed away in Columbia, Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at the age of 64.
She was born in Rolla, March 23, 1959, daughter of Paul Cecil and Bernice Catherine (Viessman) James. Raised in Vichy; her parents owned and operated the Vichy General Store. All five of Paul and Bernice’s children volunteered regularly at the store. Laura often reminisced and recounted her time there; highlighting the colorful stories and characters; knowing each character’s local lineage.
She is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia, with a degree in journalism. There she met her husband of 41 years, Stanley Michael Schiermeier. They were united in marriage on Oct. 17, 1981, in Vienna, and to this union four children were born.
Laura dedicated her life to the enrichment and documentation of the fabric of Maries County. Upon returning to Maries County from Columbia in 1983, she was appointed editor and journalist of the Maries County Gazette. From there, she and Stan built their lives in the community. In 1984, Stan and Laura purchased Shanks Photography. With this opportunity, Laura was afforded a front row seat to the lives of her community members by being the photographer for weddings, senior pictures, school pictures, sports teams, and family photos. She remembered everyone she interacted with. She often recounted to her children details of weddings or senior pictures she’d photographed 20 years prior; informing them of all maiden names and how they were related to their school friends. She never had to write any of it down.
In 1987, Laura stepped down from the Gazette to focus on family and their blossoming photography business, and returned in 2007 to the delight of its readers. In 2016, the Maries County Advocate was to start circulation and approached Laura with a staff writer position, which she took. She documented the news for Maries County in color for six years prior to her retirement in Oct. 2022. Laura used her rich connection to Maries County and passion for community enrichment to be an invaluable member to the Maries County Historical Society (secretary), Heartland Regional Library board (secretary), and Visitation Catholic Church. She enjoyed reading, embroidery, making doll clothes for her granddaughters, designing quilts, writing, canning garden produce, and making those around her belly laugh. Her thoughtfulness and wit were felt by all.
She was preceded in death by parents, Paul and Bernice; and sister, Christine James.
Those left to celebrate the life of Laura include husband of 41 years, Stan of the home in Columbia; children, Dr. Morgan Schiermeier (Heather) of Ashland, and Hannah Byrd (Curt), Trevor Schiermeier (Lindsey), and Emma Schiermeier (Chad) all of Columbia; grandchildren, Adalyn, Harper, Cooper, Maddox, Haven and Sayler; siblings, Bob James (Pam) of Victoria, Texas, Alan James (Maria) of Sarasota, Fla., and Tim James (Jennifer) of Columbia; and many other relatives and friends.
Laura’s family will receive relatives and friends Sunday, May 21, from 4:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m., in the Birmingham-Martin Funeral Home Chapel, 406 South Main Street, Vienna.
In lieu of flowers, the family of Laura Schiermeier suggests donations to the Heartland Regional Library, or charity of your choice.