She drove with a lead foot, and baked a mean boysenberry pie.
She loved hair metal bands, and sneezed in threes.
She never could master the art of frowning, and no one was as serious about celebrating holidays as Laura Webb Elody.
On a foggy Saturday morning at Huntington Beach Central Park, hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of this wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend and diehard Raiders fan. Webb Elody, a hairstylist, died with eight others in last week's Salon Meritage slayings.
Her mother, Hattie Stretz, was the only shooting victim to survive the attack. With her arm in a sling, Stretz sat and listened as friends painted a picture of a woman whose life touched many.
Dressed in Raiders shirts, biker jackets and suits, longtime friends and city leaders alike paid tribute to Webb Elody. There were as many laughs as tears, as friends shared memories.
“Everyone here has a best friend, but I had the best, best friend,” said Keith Sola, who had known Webb Elody 33 years since they attended Huntington Beach High School together.
One of her best qualities was the ability to listen and care about what people had to say, said Sola. She was thoughtful too. Not a birthday passed where she forgot to send Sola his favorite Sees Candy – peanut clusters.
Webb Elody also knew how to have fun. Together, she and Sola spent the 1980s and '90s getting backstage to meet their favorite hair metal bands. Getting there was part of the adventure. Back then, Webb Elody drove her little blue Honda to the limit, “setting speed records from one light to the next,” said Sola. “She could get anywhere in Orange County in under eight minutes.”
But her heart was always in Huntington Beach. When Webb Elody and her then-boyfriend, later-husband, Ron Elody, first discussed moving in together, he proudly researched suitable cities in north Orange County. When he showed her what he found, she took the papers out of his hands and said, “I don’t know where you’re living, but we’re living in Huntington Beach,” he recalled.
The couple met 10 years ago when he landed in her salon chair. He was instantly infatuated. She not so much. He went out of his way to hang out with mutual friends when he knew she’d be there. Before long, he won her over. They wound up spending 10 years together – the last as newlyweds.
She programmed her phone to display "Lovebug" when he called.
“She’ll always be my wife as far as I am concerned,” said Ron Elody. “I love you, Laura, now and forever.”
Webb Elody had a way of surprising even those who knew her best. On a recent Sunday, her sister discovered Webb Elody’s secret superstitious side. Every Sunday, she and her sister Beth Webb Jeans called each other to talk about the latest Raiders game.
One Sunday when the Raiders were playing the Chiefs, Webb Elody put down the phone and Jeans could hear her yelling and running around the house.
“She said, ‘Oh my God, I had red pillows [the color of the Chiefs uniform] all over the house, and I had to get rid of them,’ ” Jeans recalled.
The youngest of four siblings, Webb Elody always got her way. Although she had two older sisters and an older brother to look out for her, she somehow grew up to be the fierce protector.
If a man in a bar was looking at her friend in a way Webb Elody didn’t like, she would walk right up to him and say, “Quit looking at her, or I’ll poke you in the eye,” recalled her niece, Tiffany. “If you weren’t acting right, you could count on her to set you straight. It didn’t matter if you were her best girl or a 300-pound man.”
According to friend Michelle Vadon, Webb Elody died playing the same role. “She stood up to that awful man and saved two of her friends,” Vadon said.
Webb Elody's loved ones asked mourners not to mention the shooter’s name. They also encouraged friends not to harbor hatred.
“We ask that there be no ill will or bad energy toward anybody,” said Natalie Webb, her eldest sister.
Webb Elody was ever the peacemaker, and her niece called on the crowd to yell together:
“Love is louder!”
For many, honoring Webb Elody's memory through love will be the easy part. Letting go of anger toward the man who killed her will take work.
“This has been a tough week for all of us – the toughest in our lives,” said Gordon Gallego, Webb Elody’s co-worker and close friend. “Laura had a thing that we never left each other without a kiss. The sweetest gentle kiss from her on my cheek would be all I need to get me through this.”
Webb Elody is survived by her husband; father and stepmother, William and Jan Webb; mother and stepfather Hattie and Tom Stretz; sisters Natalie Webb and Beth Webb-Jeans; brother Billy Webb; and niece Tiffany.