The Lawrence community is mourning the loss of student Laura Van Asten, who sustained fatal injuries June 30 while riding a horse. She was 20 years old.
A flutist from fourth grade until the middle of her junior year in high school, Laura decided to try out the trombone and trombone performance became her major at Lawrence. She was an engaged musician who enjoyed sharing her talents with others at school, church and throughout the community.
She was a member of the Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, which traveled to Minnesota this spring for a series of community outreach activities and concerts at several homeless shelters and food pantries in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
Laura also performed with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. One of her favorite gigs was subbing with the Big Band Reunion, a 17-piece jazz band that performs regularly at Frank’s Pizza Palace in downtown Appleton. She also recently performed with Wisconsin Symphonic Winds, an adult, professional quality wind ensemble based in Oshkosh, and took great delight in playing with brass groups for Easter Sunday services at a local church.
As much as music was a part of Laura’s life, animals of all kinds were her true joy and horses were her greatest love. She began learning about horsemanship as an eight-year old and soon after began riding. As a young teenager, she saved enough money so she could lease a horse one summer that she could call her own. Laura was a volunteer at BEAMING Inc., a local therapeutic horse-riding organization focused on enhancing the quality of life for people with special needs, where she started out as a as a sidewalker and more recently served as a horse handler.
Laura’s passion for horses extended to Mulberry Lane Farm, where she held a variety of responsibilities, including tour guide of the petting farm. Her favorite duty was exercising the ponies.
Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, described Laura as “deeply musical, passionate, intellectually curious, courageous and very funny.”
“Laura impacted the lives of everyone who knew her in such positive and long-lasting ways. We will miss her effervescent energy every day. When we return in the fall, we will celebrate Laura’s beautiful life. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and loved ones.”
Born in Madison, Laura grew up in the Fox Valley, attending Holy Angels/Holy Spirit School in Darboy from preschool through eighth grade. She was a 2014 graduate of Appleton’s Xavier High School, where she performed in band, marching band and pit orchestra. A person proud of, and devoted to, her Catholic faith and dedicated to serving others, Laura was active in the Rock for Life Club and was able to travel throughout the country through the March for Life and Catholic Heart Work Camp. She also was very involved with the Chazoo Warriors, her parish peer ministry group.
Laura is survived by her parents, K. Michael and Betty Van Asten, Appleton, her brother Luke, Mishicot, her sister Michelle at home and her boyfriend Isaac Mayhew, a 2017 Lawrence graduate currently living in St. Paul, Minn.
She is further survived by her grandparents, Richard and Mary Sorensen, Madison, and Alois Van Asten, Wisconsin Rapids, numerous uncles and aunts and 23 cousins.
A visitation will be held Friday, July 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 600 E. Kimberly Ave., Kimberly, with a prayer service at 7 p.m. A funeral liturgy will be held Saturday, July 8 at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until the time of the Mass. Interment will follow at Holy Angels Cemetery, W2796 County Road KK, Appleton.
About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.