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Laurene H. (Hickel) Ibarra, 58, of Billings, passed away on Sept. 27, 2012, at home with loved ones. Laurene (Lu) was born April 13, 1954, in Wolf Point, Mont., to Raymond and Rosalie Hickel. Lu was raised and went to school in Wolf Point then moved to Billings in the mid 1970’s. Billings would become her home.

Lu had a bright and shining outlook on life and always made friends, family, and even strangers feel special.She worked at both Albertson’s and the Poly Food Basket for a combined 27 years where she touched many of her customers’ lives. She had a special way of bringing everyone together, whether to celebrate a milestone in one of our lives or sometimes for no reason at all. She understood the value of family and showed it with love. The grandkids’ birthdays, graduations, and other achievements were her favorite occasions. It was then that she also got to enjoy some of her hobbies, which included cooking, garage sale-ing, shopping for others, and just being together with family and friends. She also collected Kewpies, liked gardening and loved traveling. She and her husband Blas, would listen to music, dance, talk, explore and just enjoy each other’s company.

Lu and Blas Ibarra Jr. met in dancing class and were married on May 17, 1998. Their marriage was an excellent model for all to follow. They were true soul mates and their marriage had honesty, care, integrity, passion and a list of experiences whether good or bad that unified them together as one. Blas cared for her to the end and is going to continue to honor her through fundraising for pancreatic cancer care and awareness. God blessed them with each other.

In August of 2010, Lu was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Lu and Blas were already becoming very close with Jesus Christ and this journey brought them even closer. Together, as one, they put it all in the hands of the Lord. Lu lived for 26 months after the original diagnosis, which exceeded expectations. In those two years, she brought many people closer to God, she strengthened her close personal relationships, and she was able to travel and experience many of God’s magnificent, beautiful creations. Through a time that many would consider themselves doomed, she saw it as an opportunity to give glory to God. God gave her the strength to get through continued radiation and chemo treatments.She had the power to show others, that even in the darkness there is Light and a Shepherd to guide you. Lu had a contagious smile and an outgoing personality with an unmistakable wit. We will all miss you dearly Lu. We Love You To The Moon and Back.

Lu was preceded in death by her father Raymond Hickel; her brother Danny Hickel; and her dear friend Josie Skibstad. Lu leaves behind her husband Blas Ibarra; her mother Rosalie Hickel; her sister and husband Katie and Vern Cahall; her brother Carl Hickel; her son and wife Barry and Jodee Stein; her daughter and husband Jenni (Ruhd) and Ben Hill; and her grandchildren Chelsea and Hunter Stein and Jove Havener-Ruhd.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10 a.m. at the Harvest Church Heights Campus, 1235 W. Wicks Lane, Billings, MT 59105.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lustgarten Foundation, 1111 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, N.Y., 11714, or at

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