Sydney Lau Death, Obituary – Sydney Lau, age 22 and a resident of Iowa City who was originally from New Hampton, Iowa, passed away on August 20, 2023 at the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics in Iowa City. On Monday, August 28, 2023, at 10:30 a.m., a Mass of Christian Burial will be performed at Holy Family Parish in New Hampton, with the Reverend James Goerend serving as the celebrant of the Mass. Those who are unable to attend the Mass in person are encouraged to participate virtually with the family by following the link below and watching the Mass via Livestream.
At the Hugeback – Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory in New Hampton on Sunday, August 27, 2023, between the hours of 1:30 and 5:30 p.m., friends and family will have the opportunity to pay their respects. On Monday, visitation will take place at the church for the full hour leading up to the start of the Mass. On August 20, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa, Sydney Denyse Lau, who was deeply loved by her family as a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, and friend, died away. Sydney was the treasured and, more accurately, the favorite daughter of Dennis and Michelle (McAloon) Lau, who welcomed her into the world on January 9, 2001 in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Her life was defined by her love for music, her devotion to her family, friends, and community, as well as her creativity, intelligence, and generosity toward others. She was a kind lady who was also brilliant, creative, and generous. Prior to the family’s relocation to New Hampton, Iowa in 2007, Sydney’s formative years were spent in Winner, South Dakota. She began her education at St. Joseph Catholic School and continued her education at New Hampton High School, from which she graduated in 2019. In her school’s community, Sydney was known for being an active and engaging member.
She participated in both football and wrestling as a cheerleader. She was quite involved in the musical theater community. She had an effortless sense of style and refused to make any concessions in her quest to appear fantastic, which is why she was rightfully chosen as the Best Dressed student in her class. She was able to get priceless real-world experience by working as a barista at the Gathering Place coffee shop and at Poor Richards restaurant. After graduating high school, Sydney enrolled in the University of Iowa in Iowa City to further her education.
Her ultimate goal was to have a career in healthcare, and she completed coursework toward that end. She also worked as a security guard for U of I Hospitals and Clinics. Her studies were interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and she moved back to New Hampton, where she worked at MercyOne New Hampton Medical Center. While in New Hampton, she was a regular cantor at St. Joe’s Catholic Church. In the fall of 2022, Sydney returned to Iowa City and started a new position as a registration clerk at a U of I OB-GYN Clinic. This was a good fit for Sydney (although she was probably a very intimidating security guard). She enjoyed her work, and was a much-appreciated employee.
She settled into Iowa City, a place she loved to live. She had a beautiful apartment and took much joy in making it her home. She had a rich social life and great friends. Sydney loved animals, especially her dogs Caesar and Baxter, and her cats Bosco and Waylon. She wore this love proudly, literally, and was the owner of many, many (many) shirts with cats on them. It would be inaccurate to say Sydney “enjoyed” playing cards. She made cards her war. For all she loved people, you really didn’t want to be on her team if you couldn’t pull your weight. She had high standards. Which is fair.
Although she described herself as a horrible cook, she loved food, and she loved sharing good food with the people around her. She could pick the perfect place to eat, and would do so on family trips. But her hometown favorite was always the Pub at the Pinicon. In her own words, Sydney recently wrote (in a profile for her place of work) that “kindness from strangers” and “laughter with people I love” were two of her favorite things (in addition to parking spaces she didn’t have to parallel park in). She lived that way.
Much longer ago, when she was a little girl, Sydney also wrote the following about herself: “Sydney Denyse Lau. Who loves cats, likes green, and is tall. Sister of Shannon, September, Summer, Dustin, Dane, Derek, David, Devin, Samantha, Stephanie, Shawnessy, and Shelby. Who loves family, friends, and cats. Who feels lucky to have a dog. Who needs food, shelter, and air. Who gives respect, caring, and fairness. Who fears spiders, ghosts, and heights. Who would like to see Ireland. Who dreams of having a big house with lots of cats. Who is a student of Mrs. Heying. Syd.” The girl who wrote that certainly lived in the woman she became.
Second only to family and friends, Sydney’s passion was music. Sydney was music personified. She had the most beautiful voice, and shared it often. She loved singing *for* people, at wedding celebrations, funeral masses, and sharing her rendition of the National Anthem at sporting events. She loved singing *with* people, in intimate gatherings with family and friends. The songs the family has chosen for Sydney’s Celebration of Life are hymns she loved to sing.
Sydney was also a prolific composer of original music, and played a variety of instruments. She had a music studio set up in her bedroom at her home in New Hampton (although she could sometimes be found in her closet laying down tracks because “the house is too noisy!”). Her style ranged from wickedly satirical to gut-wrenchingly sublime. She revealed herself through the songs she wrote: her music is joyful and playful, gorgeous and heartfelt, often hilarious, never taking itself too seriously.
One of her creations, “In Between,” written and performed by Sydney, was chosen by her family to accompany her on her Honor Walk at the University of Iowa Hospital, just prior to the organ recovery surgery that ultimately saved three lives. This song will also accompany Sydney’s family as they walk with her one last time during her Celebration of Life. GODSPEED, SYD-SYD!!!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!! Sydney Denyse Lau was brilliant, in all senses of the word. We would say she sparkled, but she would make fun of us for that. She exuded grace and love. She was so vivacious, just brimming with life and creativity.
She is survived by her loving parents, Dennis and Michelle Lau of New Hampton, IA; twelve siblings and their spouses and children, Shannon Lau and Greg Allen (Forest and Meadow Allen) of Northfield, MN, Ember Lau and Adam Bell (Magdalene Bell) of Des Moines, IA, Summer and Jeff Swenson (Isaac, Lila, and Ruby Swenson) of Belmond, IA, Dustin and Amanda Lau (Cecilia and Emma Lau) of Cedar Falls, IA, Dane Lau and Rocio Romero Ramirez (Melissa Marron Romero) of Iowa City, IA.
Also Derek Lau and Erin Bernardy of St. Paul, MN, David and Meg McAloon of Atlanta, GA, Devin Lau and Eileen Tucker of Cedar Rapids, IA, Samantha Lau and Kelly Larkin (Baby Larkin) of Fernley, NV, Stephanie Lau and Sean Corpstein of Ankeny, IA, Shawnessy Lau and Gunnar Mills of Salt Lake City, UT, Shelby Lau and Matthew Gleason of New Hampton, IA; and grandmother, Phyllis Lau of Mason City, IA.
She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Harry and Tres McAloon, and paternal grandparents, Paul and Velma Lau