Parents of late Wisconsin astronaut, Laurel Clark, die in Arizona crash

Laurel Clark

RACINE -- Racine native and astronaut, Laurel Clark, died after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. Sixteen years later, her family and friends are mourning again. Clark's mother and stepfather, Dr. Richard and Margory Brown, lost their lives in a horrific crash near their home in Tucson, Arizona.

"I didn't process it right away. I felt sad, quite a bit of shock," said Wayne Johnson, friend of the Browns.

The sudden deaths have devastated longtime friends, Ruth and Wayne Johnson.

Dr. Richard and Margory Brown

"I had actually been texting with Marge, they had planned on coming to Racine in mid-September," said Ruth Bradford Johnson.

For years, the couples attended Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church together, before the Browns moved to Arizona.

"Having just spoken to her in text, and to hear that they died was just overwhelming," said Ruth.

Crash in Tuscan, Arizona

Ruth and Wayne Johnson

It's another gut-wrenching tragedy for their loved ones.

In 2003, their daughter Laurel died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The space shuttle specialist was a graduate of Horlick High School, and by Racine's lakefront there is a memorial in her honor.

"The community came out in throngs for Marge and Dick when Laurel died," Ruth said.

Laurel Clark memorial

Laurel Clark memorial

The community thinking of a family once again, and remembering a husband and wife with a passion for helping others.

"Giving of themselves to this community, certainly of this community as a church, but probably also giving to the world," said Ruth.

The family will hold a service at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church -- located at 625 College Avenue in Racine -- on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church

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