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Orlando, FL - Ilia Mesa Lively passed away peacefully at her residence on Friday, February 28, 2014.

She was predeceased by her parents, Danilo F. and Rosa Q. Mesa of Gainesville.

When she arrived in the United States from Cuba, at the age of 16, she supported her family by working at the University of Florida. She enrolled at UF while continuing to work and obtained a Bachelor's (1966) and Master's degree (1967). She continued her quest for knowledge by pursuing a Doctorate from the University of Kentucky, where she met her husband, David.

For her two children, Meredith and Danny, she dedicated all of her time and energy to ensure that they were educated, well cared for, and loved. Encouraging her children to pursue scouting, she served in various capacities in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America and became a trainer in both organizations, earning a Wood Badge while her son became an Eagle Scout and her daughter received the Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.

She returned to her love of teaching Spanish at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, and co-authored two textbooks specifically tailored to the community college curriculum. When her grandchildren came along, she promptly retired and moved her family 500 miles south to Orlando, FL to enjoy being a doting grandmother.

Ilia will be remembered as wonderful vibrant leader, educator, volunteer, friend, mother, and wife. Throughout her entire life, she worked tirelessly to go above and beyond for family, friends, and students.

Her children and grandchildren were the joy of her life, in whom she took great pride. She leaves behind her loving husband David, brother Dan (Denise) Mesa of Gainesville, sister Nelia Powell of Eustis and four nieces. Her son Danny remains at home with his father. Ilia's daughter Meredith and son-in-law Jay Varner reside in Orlando with her cherished grandchildren, Eli and Killian.

During her final weeks, Ilia was surrounded by her family, and was given excellent care by Cornerstone Hospice. Those wishing to remember Ilia are welcome to make donations to Cornerstone Hospice, in lieu of flowers.

Published in Gainesville Sun from Mar. 7 to Mar. 8, 2014
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