Meet Lori: Collies, Capers, and Compassion

april 24-Lori-Ficka

For this month’s Resident Spotlight we are running with the big dogs at The Heathers. Specifically, our Resident Lori and her Sunamor Collies. Community Relations Manager Kate and I sat down with Lori’s oldest daughter Kathy for a delightful interview about her mom’s many passions. Read on below to learn more about Lori’s legacy and love she has for family and animals.

Lori, born Dolores, was born in New York. She and her brother grew up in Maywood Park in Chicago. However, fate, friendship, and a motorcycle soon had her jubilant spirit off to the West Coast.

Puppy Love: Lori and Walt:

Lori met her husband Walt through a mutual friend that Kathy affectionately referred to as “Uncle Bob.” She and Walt went for a motorcycle ride together and were immediately taken with each other. They had such chemistry in fact that the two were soon married, despite the fact that Walt had previously been engaged to someone else. It all worked out for the best, and in a very charming turn of events, Lori, Walt, the other woman, and her eventual husband all ended up becoming close friends. The four of them played cards together for many years.

Lori and Walt moved to California together where Lori helped Walt manage his business. Walt was a social butterfly and the pair would throw lots of get togethers for everyone, Walt was always ready to get the tent set up and the barbeque going. Walt also loved to joke around and prank others to make them laugh. And while Lori enjoyed his fanciful spirit, that wasn’t to say she couldn’t give as good as she got. Kathy remembers one occasion where her mother bought a jar of plastic ants that she meticulously lined up across the kitchen floor shortly after she and Walt renovated the kitchen. Sure enough, Walt fell for the ruse and was rushing around frantically to find the vacuum to stop the sudden infestation. Lori was laughing so hard she cried.

Walt and Lori shared a lifetime of laughter and many adventures together. Another favorite story Kathy recalls of the two was when they rode the motorcycle together to a Halloween party. They ended up getting pulled over on the way, fake wigs, flashy flower costumes and all.

Never a dull moment: Mischievous children

Lori and Walt had three children; Kathy, Tom, and Sherise. With a touch of pride, Kathy relayed to Kate and I how “us kids really gave her a run for her money.” Kathy loved to eat the snails straight off the sidewalk much to her mothers chagrin, while Sherise once sent the family station wagon rolling into the street. Inspired by Mary Poppins, Kathy and Tom once decided to test the magic ability of the umbrellas in the household. This foray resulted in Kathy leaping off the roof of their house and Tom from their bunk beds. Needless to say, the magic failed, and Kathy found herself in the dog house.

Despite, or perhaps because of, her children’s boundless energy, Lori was eager to find activities for her family to do together. The family was often at the beach near their house, or going on vacations to Arrowhead Lake, or to DisneyLand. Activities like go-cart racing or learning water skiing from her parents boat were frequent pastimes in Kathy’s childhood. Additionally, Lori was a firm believer that her children should receive a good education. It was for this reason that she and Walt moved their business back to the Midwest, where Lori hoped the school systems would be better.


Laying the groundwork: The move back to IL

A far cry from the sunny beaches of California, it was a raging winter storm when Lori and her family arrived at their new residence in Illinois. Kathy vividly remembers when they stepped into the unfurnished boathouse for the first time, only to discover that a raccoon had chewed through the roof, and their new “house” was coated in snow. But Lori “was a trooper” and she never dwelled on looking back. She focused her energy forward on rehabbing the house until she made it a home for her family. She ended up staying in that house from that first storm all the way up until she moved into the Heathers.

Lori’s forward thinking and desire to support her children ended up extending her positive influence into other areas of McHenry County as well. It was her petitioning and involvement that led McHenry to update the roads from gravel to being paved. When Kathy expressed her High School classes still weren’t challenging her, Lori worked to improve the curriculum. This eventually led her to become a special education teacher, where she helped many students grow.



A Dog and Pony (and Cat) show: Lori’s Legacy

When Kate asked Kathy what Lori most wanted to be remembered for, what she wanted her legacy to be, her answer was simple: Sunamor Collies. Lori and Walt got their first Collie, Flicka, shortly after they were married. Lori bred and showed Collies for many years and the family still keeps detailed records of her work. Conscientiously hand written by Lori and neatly filed, every index card is adorned with a black and white photo of her four-legged family members. Lori and Walt were both active members of The Collie Club of America where their line of Sunamor Collies is well known and respected by fellow enthusiasts. You can go on the CCA’s website today and see their Register of Merit Collies. Lori’s passion for her Collies is readily seen in her room at The Heathers, where artist renditions of her dogs adorn the walls and you can see copies of The Collie Review featuring the her champions on the cover.


In addition to her Collies, Lori also was involved in showing and breeding quarter horses after her and Walt’s retirement. Kathy continues on that tradition today with her own horses.

Lori also loved cats and raised many feral cats around their home. She would then help trap them once they were old enough to be spayed. Her favorite cat, Simba, was allowed inside the house to go where he pleased. Lori has a small stuffed cat in her room in his likeness.

Roses and Prose: Many passions

In addition to her devotion to taking care of animals, Lori’s other passions include gardening, reading, and writing. While Lori’s gardens contained many flowers, her favorite were her roses. She created a beautiful cross between red and white roses to create a “red and white striped rose “ Her personal favorite, however, are yellow roses.

Lori was also an avid reader and writer. Her favorite author is James Patterson and she has read all of his books. In contrast to his dark worlds, she herself wrote whimsical children’s tales. Lori and Kathy were kind enough to allow me to read her short stories that she has at The Heathers. Many of her stories reflected her passion for nature and animals, focusing on children who found themselves in enchanted forests. Lori described in great detail the flowers they encountered or the beautiful lakes where “[the moon] made the fresh water sparkle like tiny droplets of silver.” The creatures of these fantastical forests included majestic silver eagles, elegant magical horses, curious red giraffes, wise Blue Bears, and playful fairies and sprites. Through their escapes in the forest, the children of Lori’s stories, learned lessons such as how learning to laugh at yourself can bring you new adventures and new friends. In another story, an optimistic young boy and his faithful talking dog use their creativity to help a veteran find a new home.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to Kathy and Lori for letting Kate and I see the world through Lori’s eyes. We hoped you enjoyed learning about Lori’s legacy as much as we did.


april 24- Lori portrait

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