UPDATED: Laurey Masterton, Asheville activist, entrepreneur, dies after long fight with cancer


Laurey Mastertonn in her kitchen at Laurey’s Catering on Biltmore Avenue in Asheville in 2009. / Photo by Jason Sandford


UPDATED TUESDAY, Feb. 18: The pastor of Laurey Masterton’s church congregation reports that Masterton died early Tuesday morning.

SUNDAY, Feb. 16: Laurey Masterton, the owner of a popular downtown cafe who has publicly battled cancer for years and is known for living her life by the catchphrase “Don’t postpone joy,” is facing declining health.

Masterton’s church announced that she has hospice care. Masterton’s page on Facebook is active with dozens of postings from people wishing her love and support.

Cancer has been an ever-present factor in 59-year-old Masterton’s life. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer more than 20 years ago. At age 12, she lost both her parents to cancer. She moved to Asheville with a degree in theater design and lighting, intent on creating classes for cancer survivors. But a love of food and cooking took hold, and Masterton opened her cafe in downtown Asheville in 1990. Today, Laurey’s is a popular stop on Biltmore Avenue.

A few years ago, Masterton rode her bicycle across country to raise money for ovarian cancer. In 2010, she and several hundred other chefs from around the U.S. joined Michelle Obama at the White House to help the First Lady launch “Chefs Move to Schools,” a project to end childhood obesity.

Also in 2010, Masterton participated in TEDx Asheville and delivered a talk about the importance of honey bees and her love of beekeeping. She published a cookbook that same year titled “The Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen.”

But Masterton’s charisma eclipsed any of her accomplishments. She expressed endless energy, love and support for her friends and community, all of which was being reflected back to her on her Facebook page. A few examples:

Jenna Lindbo

Laurey Masterton, love you immensely * Honey bees and melodies * You are magic woman, inspiring in every way * Deepest gratitude and JOY *


N’aan Harp

You are a glowing drop of joy and honey and hope and gratitude in this dimension … and beyond … into the Endless Ambient, where we continue to buzz and smile:) All in a life’s work … Thank you, Laurey, from me and the bees.

Kathryn Carr Warner

As fellow Biltmore avenue pioneers, John and I have loved the nearness of special folk like you and have appreciated your positive energy these past two decades. Thanks to you so many of us will not postpone joy. Loved making the video of your bike ride across the U.S. and we have always loved your writing – your books, your newsletters – because you are always so real. Blessings, Laurey.

Alex Fisher

All of the love and light I am able to muster for the strongest, most passionate woman I think I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Laurey Masterton, you have touched the lives of so many and I cannot believe the great fortune I have had in being able to have spent so many wonderful moments of my life with you. You’ve watched me grow, from the tiny little seed of a girl visiting your beautiful home in the woods to treating me and my friends and family to the most fantastic college graduation shin dig I could’ve ever dreamed.

You have shown me, and everyone else on this beautiful blue planet, nothing but love and a contagious appetite for life. And I promise you, for as long I walk this earth, I will always remember to never postpone joy. Peace be with you, sweet Laurey.


Pat February 19, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Bless you Laurey on your next journey. And thank you for what you gave to this one. You have inspired so many of us with your unending enthusiasm for life and your courage along the way. Love, love, love, Pat

AshevilleBlog February 18, 2014 - 9:40 am

Rest in Peace Laurey – you leave behind a great legacy.

Lyn Weaver February 17, 2014 - 5:35 pm

Although I have never met Laurey personally, I have followed her in the news. She is such an inspiration to women of all ages. Bless you Laurey as you continue your journey home.

Nancy Lewis February 17, 2014 - 4:07 pm

Laurie has been such a positive symbol of the human spirit!

Katherine February 17, 2014 - 4:01 pm

I don’t know Laurey personally but have seen her at various events over the years and she is indeed a class act! She’s done a lot for Asheville and the local food scene and from what I hear, she’s a pretty spectacular person. My prayers are with her and her loved ones as they fight the fight.

Linda Welsh February 17, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Laurie, if you can hear me, know that your message has traveled far and wide, “Don’t Postpone Joy!”

Ruth Dondanville February 17, 2014 - 1:50 pm

Dear Laurey,

Though I have never met you or even spoken to you, I have followed you and your mother since I first purchased her three cookbooks in a set when I lived in Asheville in the 70s. I also read her other three books, and own your “Elsie’s Biscuit’s” and have often visited your web site following your career. In my home, and in my restaurants near Nashville during the 80s, I served many of Elsie’s recipes, including her Cream Cheese Pie and Sponge cake (each with Hot Blueberry Sauce), Baked French Vegetable Casserole, Carrots Superbe, Swedish Cream and her divine Sour Cream Waffles.

Others speak of activism and heroism, but I know nothing of these. To me, Laurey is still a little girl responsibly helping her mother in the kitchen, her fates about to be tossed in the wind. You’ve done well, little Laurey. Your mother would have been so proud of your life, and, if I may presume, I will be proud in her stead. My love and thoughts are with you.

Radio Follower February 17, 2014 - 7:35 pm

That’s a beautiful sentiment, Ruth.

Michael Lehrman February 17, 2014 - 12:36 pm

“This is not the birds and the bees; it’s just the bees.” After watching the video, I recognize LM is “the bee’ knees” or “the cat’s pajamas” in my book — an interesting stimulating articulate woman. I wish her well and pray for her. M.L.L. Inspirational — of bikes and bees — and joy.

Stephanie Dudley West February 17, 2014 - 11:20 am

Laurey was a great inspiration to me during my 3 years working in her kitchen. She will be truly missed.

Kevin McGuire February 17, 2014 - 10:40 am

I’ll use this thoughtful and sad time to finally put a beehive on our property. We’ve planted for bees, but now’s the time to follow Laurie’s example more fully.


SBE February 16, 2014 - 11:56 pm

Laurey Masterton​​ you are truly an inspiration to me and so many others!!! My heart aches to have read this article but I know your love and positive energetic passion for life is the strength that you find!! I will keep you in my prayers and am here to lift you up. Thank you for touching my life and always “Don’t Postpone Joy”!!!

doghaus28815 February 16, 2014 - 10:49 pm

as a 2 time winner, she is in my prayers. we will not go quietly, but with honor and respect.

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