I was lucky enough to know Marilyn Laurie for over 30 years. At AT&T, she was my boss, mentor and friend and she remained my mentor and friend in my years at Lucent and KPMG. There's no question that she was a trailblazer both for PR people and for women. At AT&T as the first female head of PR and the highest ranking woman in the company, she broke down doors that allowed me and many other female PR professionals to walk through - and move up - far more easily thanks to her success.

She applied the Arthur Page principles with courage and intelligence as she took her place "at the table" of the 10-person Management Committee at AT&T. Marilyn understood - and taught us - that while good PR might include great publications, savvy media relations, and memorable executive speeches, great PR required the ability to sit with the leaders of the business and influence the decision in advance by providing the best possible understanding of stakeholders needs and the environment in which any action will be viewed.

About six months ago, Marilyn asked her AT&T colleagues if they would share any memories we had of her...good or bad. We didn't understand the significance of her request at the time. Here's part of what I wrote: "A while ago, you asked PR people to share their memories of you. So, here goes. I think you know that you made a major difference in my life. Besides the fact that you were a rare female role model, you defined the role in PR much more broadly than anyone ever had in my experience. It made the job more fun. You know the old story about the man who's watching two men working in a quarry. When he asked one man who was sort of listlessly breaking rocks, what he was doing. The man answers, I'm breaking rocks. He asked the next man who is passionately and energetically breaking rocks, what are you doing? The man answered, I'm building a cathedral.

You always made me feel like I was building a cathedral, changing the world, saving the company, building a brand. It made my job a meaningful career in a way that wouldn't have been possible without you." And she did.

And I can tell you that she also a role model for retirement. She was as energetic and engaged in life after retirement as she was when she was a young, female officer who often ran in her stocking feet over the "purple carpet" in the AT&T executive wing as she counseled AT&T executives to do the right thing in the right way.

Every time I saw Marilyn, she was involved with a client, or with issues at Columbia University where she was a trustee or was sharing passionate, well informed opinions on whatever the issue of the day. She audited courses at the medical school to make her a better Board member at Columbia Presbyterian. Long after she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she was still lining up strategic support for a favorite client, a small technology entrepreneur that she believed in.

When I had lunch with her in April, just in that one day, she had a breakfast meeting with Chet Burger (a noted media trainer for those of you too young to recall), lunch with me and an evening Board meeting for the Lincoln Center Ballet with her good friend, Reynold Levy. There was very little that could stop her from living every day to the fullest. And of course there were the many exotic and memorable trips that she took with her artist husband, Bob, her devoted husband of 48 years and the frequent visits to her cherished daughters and grandchildren. She made the trip to California to see her grandson graduate high school just last month. Marilyn had a rich and full life. And we were all richer for knowing her.