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Nell S. Lurain

August 1, 1946 August 31, 2021
Nell S. Lurain
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Obituary for Nell S. Lurain

Nell S. Lurain passed away peacefully at home in Oak Park, IL, on August 31, 2021.

Born in 1946 in Charlottesville, VA, to the late William P. and Alice Snavely, Nell grew up in Storrs, CT. In 1968, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College, where she earned an undergraduate degree in biology and met her life partner, her husband of 52 years, John R. Lurain III. She went on to pursue an academic career in science, completing a PhD in microbiology at Loyola University of Chicago while simultaneously raising two daughters. Throughout their childhood, she was a dedicated presence on the sidelines at sporting events, always found reading scientific journal articles in between burst of cheering.

In 2020, Nell retired from her position as Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at Rush University after more than 25 years on the faculty. She loved the puzzle and practice of laboratory research and found human pathogens endlessly fascinating. This enthusiasm for her discipline, along with her nearly infinite patience, care, and commitment to education made her an excellent mentor and teacher; in 2019, she was awarded the Rush Faculty Excellence in Education Award.

Nell was a longtime, engaged member of First United Church of Oak Park, where she found a community of faith that nurtured both her spirit and her strong sense that human beings have a collective responsibility to care for each other. Through the church, she became involved with Cluster Tutoring, first as a tutor, and later, as a board member. The organization’s mission corresponded closely with her belief in the power of education and the importance of investing in the future through young people.

Everyone who knew Nell was struck by her sharp intellect, her unflappable practicality, her understated sense of humor, and her deep concern for others. Her family, friends, and colleagues were warmed by her generosity of spirit and reassured by her steadfast reliability. We will miss her affection and her “instructions” in equal measure.

In addition to her husband, Nell is survived by her children, Alice (Carla García) Lurain of Brooklyn, NY, and Kate (Gabriel Alvarado) Lurain, of Washington, DC, and by her siblings, William (Susan) Snavely and Elizabeth (Van) Aldred.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 26, 2021 at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Cluster Tutoring (

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Previous Events

Memorial Service




3:30 PM 9/26/2021 3:30:00 PM
First United Church of Oak Park

848 Lake St.
Oak Park, IL 60301

First United Church of Oak Park
848 Lake St. Oak Park 60301 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

Cluster Tutoring

118 N. Central Ave., Suite 210
Chicago, IL 60644

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