SILVA PLA, MARIA B.
Maria Bertha "Kika" Silva Pla, 89, of Gainesville, passed away on Monday, June 28, 2010. She was in the hands of the amazing and caring staff at the E.T. York Haven Hospice Center.
Kika was born in Curico, Chile on November 16, 1920 to General Jose Miguel Silva Plazas and Maria Bertha Chereau de Silva. After Kika graduated from Santiago College, a girls' prep school in Chile, her family moved to Bogota, Colombia where she eventually became one of the first stewardesses for Avianca Airlines. She married Ramon Pratts Pla, whom she always called "Honey", at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on January 15, 1948. After living in Puerto Rico where their first child, Richard, was born, Kika and Ramon moved to and then expanded their family in Bogota. Kika was a very active fighter for a woman's right to vote in Colombia, which was finally granted in 1957. In 1965 Kika, Ramon and their five children moved to McClean, Virginia. While raising her family and working at the American Bankers Association she became very active in Virginia Democratic politics and in the Hispanic Community of Northern Virginia.
After her retirement from the ABA and the subsequent death of Ramon (1984), Kika moved to Richmond, Virginia, enrolled at Sgt. Reynolds College, and graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management in 1987. She was one of the oldest graduates of the College at the time. Kika then moved to Hatteras, North Carolina to help her daughter Belinda with her business and especially to help raise her third grandchild, Christina. While in Hatteras she had many friends, was very active with the bird club, and enjoyed gardening, astronomy and exercise classes. Kika lived in Hatteras until 1997 when she decided to move to Gainesville, Florida to be with her sons Richard and John. Two years later her daughter Birdie's family moved to Gainesville as well. In 2005 her family dedicated the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College on her behalf.
Kika's zeal for life was amazing. She worked very hard to achieve many great things and lifted others to do so as well. She had a great personality, her most prevalent trait being her honesty. She inspired her children to work hard, to be politically involved and to try to make a difference in the world. She loved Gainesville especially Kanapaha Gardens, her fish pond, and her family. Kika was an avid naturalist, bird watcher, gardener, and advocate.
Kika is preceded in death by her sister Carmen (1954), and brothers Julio (1992) and Miguel (2005). She is survived by her sisters, living in Bogota, Alicia Silva de Cardenas and Gladys Silva de Davila (Alfonso Davila); her sister-in-law Aida Pla of Gainesville; her children: Richard Pla (Kyle Strohmann) and John Pla (Amy Howard) of Gainesville, Belinda Pla Willis (Virgil Willis) of Hatteras, North Carolina, Anthony Pla (Terri Pla) of Ashburn, Virginia, and Maria "Birdie" Murnane (Patrick Murnane) also of Gainesville; nine grandchildren: Garland Pla (Lloyd Parker), Alexandra Pla (Alan Lawson), Christina Willis, Emily Murnane, Andrew Pla, Michael Murnane, Tyler Pla, Hunter Pla, and Jordan Pla; and one great grandson, Elias Thomas Lawson. Additionally, she leaves many nephews and nieces in Colombia and around the world.
Memorial services will be held at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville at 2:00pm on July 9, 2010. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Haven Hospice, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens or the Santa Fe College Kika Silva Pla Planetarium; all great organizations that made a difference in her life.
Her family will always carry Mama Kika's motto, always the General's daughter: Adelante, Soldado Valiente! Forward, Valiant Soldier!
Arrangements entrusted to CHESTNUT FUNERAL HOME, 18 NW 8th Ave, Gainesville, FL.
Published by Gainesville Sun from Jul. 4 to Jul. 5, 2010.