Mary Ellen Willia, 69, of Beverly Hills, Calif., formerly of Cedar Rapids, passed away from cancer on July 27, 2016, in Phoenix, Ariz., where she recently had moved in order to be cared for by her dear sister, Patti Lepper, during her final days. An earlier funeral service was held in Mesa, Ariz., on July 30, 2016. A graveside service was held Aug. 1, in New Providence, Iowa.
Mary was born March 23, 1947, in Eldora, Iowa, to Neil and Colleen Willia. She was the first of five children, followed by her brother, Richard Willia of Sioux City, Patti Lepper and next, Brian Willia, both of Phoenix, and Linda Lankford Watley of Dallas, Texas.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Mary attended elementary, middle school and high school through grade 10 in New Providence. She and her family moved from New Providence to Cedar Rapids in 1963, at which time she finished school at Washington High School, graduating in 1965. Mary attended the University of Northern Iowa. She graduated in 1969 from Drake University with a B.S. in education. She taught school in the Des Moines Public School System from 1969 to 1975. She then worked for the Xerox Corp. in the Des Moines area as an account manager and marketing representative before moving to the Los Angeles area in 1983, becoming employed as a clothier for the Tom James Co. She then obtained her financial licenses and entered the world of finance, working for several different brokerage houses and banks. Mary's true love was her attraction to the image industry, helping clients improve upon their professional image.
She was dedicated to her professional life and displayed a contagious enthusiasm for those with whom she worked.
Mary's greatest challenge in life came when she battled cancer. She faced her terminal diagnosis, head-on, like she lived her professional life, never showing any signs of weakness but charging ahead in the face of impossible odds. Her valiant courage carried her to the end of her earthly life, never failing her. Those who knew her will miss her bubbly personality and her zest and passion for life. She will be missed by those she touched.
Posted on Tuesday, 2 August 2016