Remembering Laurence Msall

Mic Altena

Published 5 February 2023

I first met Laurence in 2009 when I was working part-time as a support worker at L’Arche. He and his family hosted us for a Christmas dinner in their home. Still being new to Chicago, it was one of the first homes I’d been invited to. I couldn’t have been more warmly welcomed by Laurence, even though I was a new, occasional face in L’Arche.

When I was hired as the Executive Director for L’Arche Chicago in 2013, the name I kept hearing from our Board, friends, and supports was Laurence, “You’ve got to meet Laurence,” “Talk to Laurence,” “Get Laurence’s help.”

Laurence with his late mother Lucille and sister Anita at a 2001 L’Arche Chicago fundraiser at the Buzz Cafe in Oak Park. Laurence was a committed supporter of L’Arche Chicago from its very beginning in 2000.

This was his gift. While being highly accomplished, well connected, and full of ideas, he always had time and resources to share, and always shared them in a spirit of relationship and care.

I have many fond memories of Laurence over the years. He was a reliable attendee at all of our L’Arche fundraising events, even faithfully serving for years as our stand-in bartender! He consistently thought of us when charitable opportunities arose. He showed up to fix problems and make connections that would serve us well into the future.

Hearing his sister Christianne, a core member who lives at L’Arche Chicago, speak about Laurence has always been a joy. There is a deep respect and admiration for him in her oft repeated phrase, “Ask my brother Laurence,” in response to a need. She knew, as we all did, that he would be there to help.

He was a great man, and he will be missed.

Mic Altena

Executive Director, L’Arche Chicago