Lilia Zepeda Weddle was born on April 21, 1928 in Mercedes, Texas, the daughter of Julian Zepeda and Guadalupe Torrez. She graduated from Mary Hardin Baylor at 19 years young and became a devoted school teacher, having taught in Texas, Nebraska, Ohio and New York over the course of her career. Lilia lived life to its fullest and was known for her generous spirit, contagious laugh, warm smile, upbeat demeanor and compassion for others. Lilia never met a stranger and won the trust and friendship of many kind people from around the world.
Lilia was a dedicated elementary school teacher and started her career teaching 2nd grade in Edinburg, Texas. She was intelligent, bold, creative and always sought adventure. In 1953, at the time of the Korean War, she received credentials from The War Department to teach school in Morocco. Lilia traveled to England by ocean liner and flew to Morocco to teach youngsters living on the American Airforce Base in Tangier. There she met Neal, a handsome young officer. Neal and Lilia quickly fell in love, got married and were totally devoted to each other for over 46 years until Neal’s passing in 2000. Lilia lovingly cared for Neal in his later years.
She was a woman of boundless energy, had a strong sense of duty and worked tirelessly to help others. Her compassion and empathy for those who are less fortunate was clearly demonstrated by her life-long commitment to charitable work. She said many times “We are no better than anyone else; we are egalitarians!” Lilia volunteered at thrift stores, hospitals and was an advocate for many Hispanic immigrants.
Lilia had many interests and talents. She enjoyed Broadway musicals, golf and was an avid traveler. She traveled the world with her husband and then her children into her 90s! When her children were young she organized a birthday party with a Batman theme and used her sewing machine to craft capes for all the little “caped crusaders” in attendance. To celebrate significant events such as the 1969 moon landing, birthdays and Christmas, she hand-crafted papier-mâché piñatas. She had a green thumb when it came to gardening and made many gorgeous flower arrangements. She was an active member of garden clubs in Glastonbury, CT, Savannah, GA (Dogwood) and Columbia Garden Club in South Carolina.
As a neighbor, she would cook and deliver delicious food with a warm smile to those who were ill or homebound. Lilia enjoyed any opportunity to celebrate with friends and family and would often have dinner parties. She was a remarkable cook and could “whip up” a mouth-watering, four course meal on a moment’s notice! She was a devoted and loyal friend who embraced people from all walks of life.
Lilia loved animals and often shared her snacks, recliner and couch with her grand-dogs, Max, Rosie, Annie, Barry and Casey; and her grand-cats, Romeo and Jules. When she lived in Georgia she and Neal used a humane trap on their deck to catch opossums and raccoons so they could relocate them to wooded areas.
During her last several years she lived Stamford, CT and loved spending time with friends at the Hispanic Senior Center and at the River House.
Lilia learned many important life lessons from her parents that she passed on to her children: Never gossip or say mean things about people but feel free to share your discontent about unscrupulous politicians. Hug and kiss children and older folks to let them feel the love of your touch. Always wear clean undergarments in case there is a revolution and your home is raided by bandits and you need to flee quickly. Share your home, food, money, clothing and love with those in need. Don’t go to bed angry with your partner or children, life is too short and precious.
Forgive those who make mistakes.
Lilia was predeceased by her parents, and siblings Eva, Celia, Emma and Julian. She is survived by her two children, Julie and Andrew, and her many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Julie and Andrew would like to thank Flo and Darlene for loving Lilia and taking great care of her in her older years. A warm thank you also to Connie, Jim, Ben, Herb, Wendy and all of our friends who included our Mom in so many joyful and youthful activities. She will be deeply missed by all.
Donations can be made to: Catholic Charities USA, 2050 Ballenger Ave., Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314. https://www.catholiccharities.org; or Unbound, 1 Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103, https://www.unbound.org.