Community leader ‘left a mark’ on area

Pequignot-Smith remembered as caring, thoughtful

Hollidaysburg has lost an energetic, community-oriented leader.

Laurie Ann Pequignot-Smith, 60, of Hollidaysburg, passed away Sunday evening at UPMC Altoona after a brief illness.

She was born in Altoona, daughter of the late William D. and Carmen L. (Griffith) Pequignot. Pequignot-Smith’s parents were well-known in Hollidaysburg for their love for the community, and she continued that legacy.

Pequignot-Smith made a career at the Blair Regional YMCA, served on the Hollidaysburg Area School Board and was an active volunteer with the Greg and Cathy Griffith family foundation/sideline cancer.

Retired Hollidaysburg Area School District Superintendent Paul Gallagher said Pequignot-Smith had a zeal for life and service that was unmatched by anyone.

“I’m deeply saddened by this news. She was such a caring and thoughtful school board member. Of all the board members I’ve known, she just had that love of our community and all of our students,” Gallagher said. “And she came from such a wonderful family.”

Pequignot-Smith’s father was instrumental in founding the Hollidaysburg Area High School Alumni Association.

“Let’s put it this way, she inherited her mother and father’s zeal for life and service to their community, family and friends,” Gallagher said. “She loved the arts, music, the drama, athletics. She worked so hard for our teachers. … If it was supplies or classes we felt we needed to add, Laurie was at the forefront. I’m really going to miss her.”

Every year, she promoted Hollidaysburg Area students’ artwork at the YMCA, where she worked as director of the Human Resources department.

“The building was full of all the artwork of our students,” Gallagher said.

Retired YMCA executive director Tom Kopriva said Pequignot-Smith worked with him at the YMCA for at least 15 years.

One of her lasting marks was gathering community supporters to start the tradition of family nights at the YMCA, including DJs, photographers and activities, Kopriva said.

“It was great. We think it’s important to emphasize families and give them inexpensive things to do together. She drove those; it was a passion of hers,” he said. “She went out and made collaborations and partners, and it took off.”

The last four months have been difficult, Kopriva said.

“She went quickly,” he said. “She left a mark on me and the community and the YMCA, without a doubt.”

Pequignot-Smith was also an active volunteer with the Cathy Griffith family foundation/sideline cancer since her father’s death from the disease in 2004, said Cathy Griffith, president of the foundation.

“She was a community leader in Hollidaysburg and will be sadly missed. And her love and energy will live on forever,” Griffith said. “She was always actively involved as a volunteer and a supporter.”

Pequignot-Smith is survived by husband, Brian; and three children: Katie, David and Caroline.

Friends will be received from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Hollidaysburg, where a funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday, Monsignor Stanley B. Carson officiating.