Lulu Torbet


Lulu’s given name was Laura. Her family called her Lolly. But we here in San Miguel all knew her as Lulu.

She was extraordinary in almost every way. She was an unusually gifted and brilliant writer and had a long career writing both her own books and ghostwriting books for others. She wrote the books for the widely read psychologist and couples therapist, Harville Hendrix and for the well-known author of The Intimate Enemy: Dr George Bach. Those books were on the best seller lists for months and months, and Lulu wrote those books! Over her long career, she wrote thirty-six books.

And yet — writing was not her greatest passion or talent. What she loved most was to be in her studio creating art. She was imaginative and original. She photographed color and texture, like bright flapping tarps or scuffed up old cars. She put pedals and leaves under layers of glass and then photographed them. No one else in the world ever thought to do anything like that. She created ear decorations unlike any earring ever before imagined. She was utterly unconventional in everything — from the way she dressed to the totally fun and quirky gifts she was always showing up with.

And Lulu was a great friend to soo many of us. As busy as she was with her writing and her art, she always made time for her friends. She was constantly happy. She loved to laugh. She was generous and thoughtful. And she was playful. She loved a good joke, a good game of canasta or Scrabble or Mexican train or charades. Mexico and everything Mexican delighted her, and she never tired of a great Mexican fiesta or tradition. She was first in line at the blowing up of the Judas figures on Easter, and was proud of her assortment of Judas heads. Her collection of Huichol beaded coke and tequila bottles was so Lulu. They made her and everyone else smile – an incongruous blend of ancient indigenous and modern corporate.

Lulu was born in New Jersey in a family of six children. Hers was a close family, and she often talked with affection about her sisters. In high school, she was a racquetball and table tennis champion and – little known fact — she was a baton twirler and a drum majorette.

She went to Ohio Wesleyan University but then returned to New York and New Jersey where she started a career in journalism, had great success making macrame jewelry that appeared in Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily, and began her long career in writing. She moved to San Anselmo, California in the 1990s.

In short, Lulu had a rare combination of skills and talents, and a most original approach to everything she touched. She had a long, long list of successes, any one of which would be enough for most of us, from high school sports championships to having her creations appear in Vogue, to books all over the best seller lists, to being compared in New York Magazine to Robert Maplethorpe, to the art shows she has had here in San Miguel and Querétaro, to being flown to Columbia for the publication party for her latest book. She had a rich, full, satisfying life, filled with creativity and adventure.

She took life as it came to her, and when it came time for her to die, far sooner and more suddenly than she or any of us could fathom, she took death as it came to her too. She was surprised, but she did not fight it. As was her way, she was gracious and went out gently and lovingly. One of the last things we heard her say was, “This is amazing.” Did she mean, “This is amazing that I am dying?” Or had she entered into some surreal realm between life and death where none of us has ever been, and was she trying to convey what it’s like to be there?

– Susan Page

2 thoughts on “Lulu Torbet

  1. Thisi is beautiful. I feel so lucky to own 2 of her works plus the artwork she did for me through the years. She called me to support me while my daughter was suffering from cancer. I thought she sounded upbeat. She died a few days later. I will never get over how kind and loving she was as she helped me then when suffering herself. I still carry the family photo of you six kids in my wallet.

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