On Friday, October 13th, 2017, Lani Spivey, after running the race of her life, crossed the finish line to come home and be with Jesus in Heaven. She was surrounded by her loving husband, Larkin, her children, Anastasia, Bayliss, Catherine-Alexa, Windom, their spouses, and her 10 grandchildren. Greeting her with jubilation in Heaven are her mother and father, Eleanor and William Hillwig, and her big brother, Billy Hillwig, all of Allentown, PA.
Lani entered this earthly world on August 7, 1945 in Paterson, NJ, and brought joy and happiness to all around her from the very beginning. As a child she was the quintessential tomboy, running faster and climbing higher than any of her compatriots - a quality that she never outgrew as she traveled the world, delighted in athletic endeavors, and scaled mountains, both metaphorical and literal. Once she set her mind at something, there was nothing she couldn't accomplish.
While sunbathing on the rooftop terrace of their shared apartment building in Arlington, VA, a simple glimpse between Larkin and Lani in 1969 sparked a great love story that would last for 48 years on earth and forevermore in the hereafter. They had an epic, adventurous and passionate marriage and produced four amazing, beautiful children (if their children do say so themselves). Lani was an exemplary Marine Corps wife, creating warm home bases in Washington DC, California and South Carolina, even during prolonged separations with Larkin’s deployments to Southeast Asia.
Lani attended the Sorbonne University in Paris, where she studied art history, and her artistic sensibility and joie de vivre colored every aspect of her life. She was a painter, garden curator, decorator, and award-winning photographer with impeccable style.
When Lani spoke to you, it felt like time stood still and that you were the only person in the world, as she endeavored to give visibility and validation to everyone who crossed her path. Her insightfulness allowed her to glimpse a person's true potential, and she never missed an opportunity to make people feel unique and loved. Thanks to Joe Gibbs, Bible Study Fellowship, and friends at Trinity Church she came to Christ in 1992 and began a new journey of service in God’s Kingdom, sharing the Gospel with her family, friends, and countless others.
Lani has always been proudly patriotic and enduringly supportive of military and veteran causes, raising funds for wounded warriors through her work with Heal Our Patriots and Fisher House of Charleston. She also strove to bring joy and recognition to WWII and Korean veterans during Honor Flights she helped organize.
The world will never be the same in the absence of this spectacular woman. Her family feels her loss acutely, a pain that is only ameliorated by the fact that she is now dancing in the loving presence of her Heavenly Father. It elicits a smile to know that Lani is able to explore the rapturous beauty of Heaven ahead of us, just as her adventurous personality would have desired.
Her family invites all that were touched by her presence to join in the celebration of her life. Visitation will be held at McMillan-Small Funeral Home on Friday, October 20, 2017 from 5:00-7:00pm. A memorial service and homecoming will take place at Trinity Church on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 10:00am. Burial will be held at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery, with a service preceding at Fort Myer Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial in Lani’s name may be made to Fisher House of Charleston, PO Box 1678, Charleston, SC 29402 or fisherhousecharleston.org. Fisher House of Charleston provides a comfortable refuge for families of veterans seeking medical care at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.