In June 2020 Sara (Hawerlander) Lauber was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive Ovarian Cancer. She was a warrior and fought a fierce battle that thankfully was short. Sara passed away November 14, 2020 at the age of 46, in Denver, Colorado. It is bittersweet that Sara passed on the fourth anniversary of her Grandmother Helen Russo’s passing. A “Celebration of Life” will be held in Denver in the spring.
Sara was born March 7, 1974. She is Greg Hawerlander’s sister and daughter to Gary Hawerlander and Ann (Russo) Menke and Dennis Menke. Being a blended family Sara has two sisters, Sarah and Abby Menke. Greg and Abby always have to explain why they have two sisters named Sara / Sarah.
Growing up in Yankton, Sara loved being outside and spending time at Lewis and Clark Lake, from sledding down the face of the dam to camping, bike riding and sailing, Sara loved sailing! Sara had several summer jobs at the lake so she could be outside all the time. Sophomore year of high school Sara “Lettered” in Cross Country, one of the youngest to do so. For the second semester of her junior year and first semester of senior year Sara was an AFS foreign exchange student. She lived in Perth, Australia attending both high school and college there. She loved the people, the wildlife and beauty of Australia, but Christmas spent at the beach and Sailboat racing were her favorites.
Sara graduated with YHS class of 1992 and went to USD School of Busines, graduating in 1997. Her Finance and Management degree took her to Denver and several finance jobs, from small investment firms to Charles Schwab. Moving up professionally, Sara went to Chicago. She loved breaking the glass ceiling and moving into professional finance positions that had not previously been held by women.
Life in Chicago was fun, interesting and where Sara met Derek. In 2006 Sara agreed to a date at 404 Wine Bar. After a long night of conversation, laughter and connection, they both knew they would be spending more time together. Sara loved architecture, design, art and nature and wrapped all of these passions into an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Interior Design at Harrington College of Design and topped it off with a LEED certification.
Sara and Derek loved travel, exploring, photography and meeting new people. During their trip to South Africa in April of 2009 they enjoyed the adventure of a Safari and seeing the beautiful wildlife. She and Derek were engaged at Sabi Sands Game Reserve. It was the most romantic and beautiful setting she could imagine. They spent time in Cape Town and explored the famous wine country. Later that year she moved back to Colorado with Derek in tow and joined him starting an Executive coaching company, Lightbox Leadership LLC as the CEO. She worked tirelessly, using her design skills, finance and heart to launch a business in the middle of the recession. Enjoying the mountains of Colorado and the abundant sunshine, snowboarding, hiking, biking and being outside in nature were her favorites, she loved animals of all kinds. Sara never lost her love of sailing and in March 2014 she and Derek exchanged their wedding vows in a ceremony on a sailboat off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Christmas in 2015 took them to Germany to visit Derek’s family and the beautiful Christmas Markets. They had an amazing trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and drove on the autobahn across Germany to where modern architecture began at the famous Bauhaus school of architecture. She was in a happy place. They enjoyed several trips all across the USA visiting family and friends.
Despite medical challenges, Sara was driven, smart, caring, thoughtful, curious and kind, all of which led her to step away from Lightbox leadership and start her own digital marketing and copywriting company called Fusecat Media in the Spring of 2016.
Sara lived a happy, experiential life, never settling for the status quo. We are sure she is still exploring, travelling, sailing and helping others in her new life amongst the stars.
We love her, miss her and she will forever be in our hearts, minds and souls.
Sara is survived by her husband Derek Lauber, her parents Gary Hawerlander and Ann and Dennis Menke, her brother Greg, his wife Erin and son Grant. Sister Sarah and family Claire and James and sister Abby and family Bryan, Joselyn and Taylor, and a large loving family of aunts and uncles and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her Grandparents, Dominic and Helen Russo and Ted and Betty Hawerlander.
Yankton Press & Dakotan
December 19, 2020