Leilani Cross(1993 - 2013)

June 20, 1993 - March 20, 2013

Leilani Cross, 19, of Oak View, Calif., passed away on March 20, 2013. She was born in Glendale, Calif., on June 20, 1993, and attended elementary school in the Ojai Valley, graduated from El Camino High School in 2011, and was a student at Ventura College and California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Calif. While attending Cal Lutheran she made the Dean's List.

As a young teenager Leilani's maturity and responsibility kept her busy as a baby-sitter. She volunteered with a third grade class at Sunset Elementary School while earning credit at school. While at college she was employed at Ann Taylor in the Thousand Oaks Mall. Most recently she attended school and was employed at The Oaks at Ojai where she worked in the corporate office, kitchen, and dining room.

In keeping with her Hawaiian name, meaning "heavenly flower," Leilani was a bright and loving person; a young spirit with an old soul. Leilani's sparkling personality and contagious laugh attracted everyone's attention. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Leilani describe her as kind, compassionate, sassy, sweet, spirited and giving. She was "smart as a whip," hard working and excelled in many things. Leilani was super-organized and prioritized being there for anyone who needed her. Leilani, an avid reader and writer, loved getting lost in a good book or deep conversation.

Leilani is survived by her mother, Diane Rendano Cross; sister, Chelsea Cross both from Oak View, Calif.; father, Lance Cross of Nevada City, Calif.; as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Also surviving is her grandmother, Margaret Rendano of Holden, Mass. Leilani will join her grandparents, Emil "Tudor" Rendano also of Holden as well as Billy and Alice "Baby" Cross of Oahu, Hawaii, who preceded her in death.

Leilani struggled with mental illness and in a brief moment of hopelessness took her own life. Though her dream to become the director of a drug and alcohol rehab center was not fulfilled, she would have hoped that others who suffer from the challenges of mental illness remain hopeful and seek the help they need, just as she consistently pursued options.

A celebration of Leilani's life is planned for 1 p.m. April 6, at Ojai Valley Community Church, 907 El Centro, Ojai, Calif. In lieu of flowers, you may wish to donate to the Leilani Cross Benefit Memorial Fund, c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 202 E. Matilija Street, Ojai, Calif. 93023. Others may wish to join us in the National NAMI Walk (National Association of Mental Illness) of Ventura County on Saturday, May 4, 2013, (www.namiventura.org). More importantly, this is an opportunity to reach out to the community to raise awareness and erase the stigma of mental illness and addiction.

Close friends and family members will be notified of a potluck to follow the service at a nearby location.

Published in Ventura County Star from Apr. 4 to Apr. 7, 2013