Updated 11:28 a.m., April 17
Cathy Rohloff and her sister were not much alike.
Rohloff is the practical, disciplined type who works in business intelligence. Laura Sanders-Neidlinger, her younger sister, was the consummate fun-loving free sprit. This was typified by her hair braids, which did not match.
One thing they had in common, though, was a love of art. And now Rohloff sees that as a way to keep the memory of her sister alive.
Laura Sanders-Neidlinger died March 17 at age 38, after a battle with cervical cancer.
So the feelings still are strong as Rohloff talks of her sister and a way to make her memory live on in Suwanee, a town Laura loved.
"She used to draw for fun," Rohloff recalled of her sister. "My daughter (age 23) has a drawing that my sister drew."
"(Laura) marched to the beat of her own drummer. She was a very caring person. She was the type of person that if she had $20 in her wallet and saw someone who needed it, she'd give it to them."
And so Rohloff is leading a fund-raising effort to buy one of the original SculpTour pieces as a memorial to her sister. It would take $15,000, and the total is almost at $9,000. Donations can be made at this website.
"My sister loved Suwanee, the parks and the events."
Nursing was the professional calling for Laura, like her sister a Norcross High grad. Laura was doing her residency in Orange County, Calif., in 2007 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
In 2008, Laura moved to Suwanee from California, to be nearer family and friends. Later in 2008, Rohloff flew her sister to the famed M.D. Anderson clinic for a second opinion, and they confirmed the diagnosis.
And also came marriage: Laura and husband Jeromie met in 2006 while Laura worked as a Starbucks barista in Peachtree Corners. "He was instantly attracted to (Laura)," Rohloff said.
Also, Rohloff and husband Rob had gotten involved in the Suwanee civic scene. Rob Rohloff is the treasurer for the Suwanee Downtown Development Authority.
Laura's disease kept getting worse. She was bedridden in the last year of her life, which was at the couple's residence in Norcross.
And the first Sunday after her sister died, Rohloff had a thought. Why not a public arts memorial for her sister?
Rohloff contacted Dick Goodman, a Suwanee City Council member who also is chairman of the Public Arts Commission, and Denise Brinson, economic development director at City Hall.
"We needed to move quickly," Rohloff recalled. The original SculpTour program has just ended, and the Rohloffs particularly like Sunset, the piece that was displayed behind City Hall.
Rohloff has been contacting friends and businesses, and hopes to have the money raised by the end of April.
Her sister was cremated, so a public art memorial would be "in lieu of a headstone. ... My sister loved Suwanee, the parks and the events."
To the end, Laura was strong. Rohloff remembered that her sister bought a pair of UGG boots online a few weeks before the end.
"(The illness) rarely got talked about. She never accepted that she was going to die."