My Second Mom

Laura and John on their wedding day

A wonderful lady has gone to be with the Lord. Her name was Laura M. Anspach born December 23, 1926 and she turned 90 years old this past December. She was my aunt on my mother’s side and was my second mom. I’ll tell you about that in a minute but here’s a little bit about her life.

When she was 18 she married John Anspach, a hard working PA dutchman whose abusive father insisted he keep his many jalopies on the road. John became a very good mechanic and once married, started a business out of his one stall basement garage. He later managed to buy the land across the street from his house and founded Anspach Auto Parts in a time before computers and the internet. He tapped into what was called “The Wire” which was an intercom phone system that was “live” and hooked into all the major “junk yards” on the northern east coast area by which they would communicate and coordinate the sale of autoparts up and down the east coast. My mother actually drove a flatbed truck for her brother John to deliver car parts to central locations where the parts were transferred to other businesses on the way to the end customer.

Laura ran the business behind the scenes like she did many other enterprises behind her man. John was always working deals and had his fingers in multiple businesses and enterprises all at the same time. Laura made sure the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed. Whether John was running the business, President of Jonestown Bank, owner and operator of WAHT radio station, Lebanon County Commissioner, etc. Laura fulfilled the saying “Behind every successful man there is a great woman”. They also had three awesome children Jeanne, Ed & Joe who are a wonderful testament to their loving mother and carry her legacy forward.

I am one of six brothers who were Aunt Laura’s nephews, born to her sister-in-law Irene Anspach Wolfe. Our mom ended up being a single mom back in the sixties and she was under tremendous strain raising six sons all by herself. So from time to time she was hospitalized with a nervous breakdown, as they called it back then. Four of us were too young to live on our own, so the loving arms of relatives would take us in while mom was in the hospital, sometimes for months at a time! It was at this time that I would go to live with Aunt Laura and Uncle John.

I was afraid of Uncle John (in a good way) but not Aunt Laura. She was SO kind and loving and was like a second mom to me. She cared for me, bought me clothes and took me to the dentist which was really needed. But I’ll never forget the first morning I woke up at her house. I smelled pancakes! Now, I had pancakes before but I had never before tasted Mrs. Buttersworth syrup! So I sat down at Aunt Laura’s breakfast bar that first morning and gorged myself on pancakes smothered in butter plus that wonderful syrup. It’s still my favorite syrup today! Isn’t it amazing the things you remember?

Aunt Laura also had a spiritual effect on me as well. We would always pray before meals, and she would take me to Sunday School and church at a little Methodist church. I also distinctly remember the time she took me to a community “hymn sing” being held in the Northern Lebanon High School auditorium. It was there for the first time, while we were singing the great hymns of the faith, that I felt in my heart that Jesus loved me and was calling me to be His child. As a boy from a broken home that was very powerful, and I felt Jesus love and His warm embrace all around me. I knew it was going to be ok.

Laura had an impact on those around her. When dating John and after they were married he would bring her home to his Mom and Pop’s house. Now remember, Pop was VERY rough around the edges and violent at times. He once punched John in the face and flattened his nose because he thought John was talking back to him! Well, when Pop knew Laura was coming he actually cleaned up his act. Away went the booze bottles and the cuss words. He was actually afraid of Laura! In my opinion, what he was actually afraid of was the power of Christ living out of her life. We’ve all been around and known people that have affected us in that way. I know I do.


Aunt Laura had a huge impact on her community through her church and by volunteering in many civic organizations. Many young kids began to call her Aunt Laura as well. Here are some of the comments on my Facebook page when I informed them of Laura’s passing.

“So sorry to hear this. She was my boss many years ago when I worked at Anspach Autos. She was a very great person.”

“So sorry for your loss. Will keep your family in prayer. She was such an elegant and wonderful lady.”

“Oh, God Bless her soul. Wonderful woman. Many fond memories of her and the family.”

I spent a lot of time with her she was a great lady. My kids called her aunt Laura forever and they still do, my prayers are with you and family”

I thank God for Laura Anspach, for her love for her Savior which spilled into love for me and I praise God for the wonderful impact she had on my life.


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