Laurent Coray story

I remember my first official day as an electrical engineer. It was 1987 and it had taken a while to finally land that coveted job. As I was walking into work, I could see the landscaping crew working away, a job that I had just been doing the last few months to fill in while job searching. I was counting my blessings as it started to rain.

There was so much to take in those first six months on the job. Meeting and getting to know the engineering team was a lot of fun, but one other new-hire by the name of Laurent Coray, stood out. He was roughly my age and an electrical engineer like me. He was from the French speaking side of Geneva Switzerland and had a calm, friendly demeanor. It wasn’t long before our friendship grew to the point where we were practically brothers. Collaborating with Laurent made work fun, and we had a great time designing new products for the UPS division of II Morrow, Inc.

I ended up working for II Morrow for almost 5 years, worked in Beaverton for 2 years at Pyramid Technology, and spent the last 10 years of my engineering career at InFocus in Wilsonville. During that entire time, I never met another engineer as kind, compassionate, and easy going as Laurent. He was always like a curious, yet very intelligent child that loved to learn new things and took delight in nature. This made it so easy to get to know him and his calm and patient way of breaking things down into smaller pieces, I thought that all engineers would be like that.

This was not at all the case; Laurent was a very special mix of engineering talent and kindness.

Regardless of where we lived or worked, we remained connected and spent time together as often as possible. He even moved one street away from us in the early 90’s so we could do life together. We went on hikes, played tennis or racquetball, enjoyed meals together and so much more. Even when he moved to Vancouver, WA for a time, we often drove up there to visit.

Laurent was interested in music and in particular electromechanical devices. He started his own company creating MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) equipment for pianos. About the time he had found his first customer for his new business, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He was in his early thirties. My wife and I remember the day they came to visit with the news. It was such a shock. At the time, we had high hopes for his survival, but we had no idea what was to come. There was treatment, time in and out of hospitals and eventually, his final weeks at Hope House Hospice in Portland. It was devastating.

He was my best friend and the brother I never had. After less than a year-long battle, he passed away in hospice from a brain tumor back in 1997.

Laurent was one of the most optimistic, loving, gentle souls you could ever hope to know. He made a beautiful impact on everyone he met, and he would have made a great father – as evidenced by the way he loved our children and his younger cousins. He loved animals and nature, but most of all, he loved people. And we loved him.

I’m comforted and grateful that organizations like Kicking-Cancer are here to help the living and their families plus get the message out about the best ways to prevent and fight cancer. Knowing the fight is not always won this side of heaven, they also find so many ways to honor the memories of those we have lost. Thank you for this opportunity to honor our dear friend.

(submitted by Jason Lewis)