It is with great sadness that we share Laurel Hillerson-Spear, Founder of Fiona’s Family House passed away on Tuesday June 27th surrounded by family. Below we share the obituary provided by her family. 


Laurel Elizabeth Hillerson-Spear April 22, 1982 – June 27, 2017

Laurel made the world a better place.

She lived her life with great integrity and an unremitting belief in the goodness and value in every human being. She was generous with her time and innovative in her thinking.

Laurel and her husband Steve built a wonderful life together, and dedicated themselves to consciously and healthily parenting their daughter Fiona. Their house in Boulder Creek became a welcoming home to their frequent visitors.

Laurel dedicated her career to helping disadvantaged people.  She worked with homeless families, then in children’s mental health, and finished her career at Community Connection, working with adults who have mental health challenges. Laurel was a member of the Board of the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center.

Laurel lived in Santa Cruz County for her entire life. She was born at Community Hospital, attended Santa Cruz Waldorf School, graduated from Aptos High School, and received her undergraduate degree in sociology from UCSC. She earned her Master’s Degree in NonProfit Administration from UCSF in 2014, and planned to eventually create a nonprofit to help disadvantaged women in Santa Cruz.

Tragically, Laurel was diagnosed with stage-4 colorectal cancer at age 32, which began the journey of the past three years, during which Laurel touched so many lives and inspired so many people.

Laurel’s dedication to community involvement and advocacy for people in need of help motivated her to create a non-profit to help other young adults with advanced cancer, a fitting legacy for someone who spent her adult years working with disadvantaged children and adults.

So many helped Laurel during her cancer journey. The amazing people of Boulder Creek taught us all what it means to live in a community that truly cares for its own. Karen Delaney and the Volunteer Center were the most compassionate of workplaces.

Laurel’s oncologist, Julie Jaffe took care of Laurel with care, professionalism, and personal connection, for which we are forever grateful. Virginia Mayer graciously supported Laurel with acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and our friend Tom Butz generously provided her with wonderful psychological support. The Katz Cancer Center was a loving haven for Laurel for three years.

Laurel is survived by her husband Steve and daughter Fiona, of Boulder Creek, her sister Meryl, of Virginia, her father Gary and stepmother Susan, of Corralitos, and her mother Melissa and stepfather Simon, of San Jose.

Laurel loved 90s pop music, was an avid dancer, and lived her life with vitality and joy. We’ll have a joyful celebration of her life sometime later this summer.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either: