In the early hours of November 30th, Leela Anna Ittycheria passed away peacefully, surrounded by family in her home in Gilbert, Arizona. She began her valiant fight with cancer in May 2015; her strong will to live, unwavering faith in God, and the love and prayers of family and friends carried her through the last two and a half years of her life. Throughout the trials and tribulations of her illness, Leela never complained, but rather remained brave, stoic, and inspiringly resilient.
Born in Calcutta, India to Kuriyan and Beatrice Abraham, Leela spent much of her early childhood moving around northeast India due to the numerous postings her father had as a member of the Indian Administrative Service. She did the majority of her primary schooling in Bihar, attended Patna University for her BA, and then went on to get her Masters in Philosophy from Indraprastha University in New Delhi. Leela showcased her talents early — she was appointed Head Girl of her high school, and was the President of the Student Body at Patna Women’s College where she met then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Leela was also trained in classical Indian dance as a young girl, and often performed for prominent VIPs including the current Emperor and Empress of Japan.
Leela had an adventurous spirit from her earliest days, which led her to join British Airways as an air hostess and later as an instructor in the 60’s, allowing Leela to visit many exotic locales all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. This was the start of an active professional life, from working in industry in India in the early 70’s, to teaching high school in Nigeria later in the 70’s, to commercial lending on the east coast in the 80’s and 90’s, to becoming a realtor in Arizona from the late 90’s until 2015.
Filled with compassion, a genuine interest in others, and an uncanny ability to connect with people in a deep and meaningful way, Leela made friends easily and maintained regular contact with many around the world across multiple decades. Leela was the life of the party — she loved to host parties, organize and play games, offer unfiltered opinions on the day’s current events, and thoroughly enjoyed a good story, a bit of gossip, and a well told joke — which endeared her to all who met her. Leela’s adventurous spirit never abated even later in life, she truly loved to travel all over the world to see new places, meet new people, and try new things. Leela was a woman of strong faith, believing in the power and strength of Jesus Christ’s love, and the beauty and peace that would await her after her passing.
Leela is survived by her loving husband Mathew, her three children Dev, Jacob, and Shaila, her daughter-in-law Anju, her two grandsons Luke and Daniel, her brother Rajan, a dear aunt, numerous and beloved cousins, nieces, and nephews.