Sunday, October 13, 2013
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It comes with great sorrow that our beloved mother, Lourdes M. Vanzant, passed away Aug. 11, 2013. Lourdes, who was affectionately know as "Ludy," was born in Key West on Jan. 26, 1937, the youngest daughter of six children born to Maximo Diaz and Laura Diaz. Ludy came from a long lineage of native Key West families. Her grandmother was born as Maria Perez and Ludy's mother was Laura Cabanas. Ludy attended grade and middle school at St. Mary Star of the Sea and graduated from Key West High School with the class of '55.

Ludy married in Key West in 1956 to James W. Vanzant who was serving in the Navy. Ludy worked for Southern Bell Telephone in Key West as an operator and other assignments over the next 10 years. Then, when Ludy's husband joined the Army to become a pilot and officer, she traveled the U.S. and foreign countries for the next 20 years as a military wife and mother.

After they retired, they took up ranching and farming in Georgia and Alabama, where Ludy successfully helped manage large farms for many years. In the late 1980s, Ludy moved to California, where she divorced and then worked as a bookkeeper, collections manager and in the student loans department for CMSC. She retired at age 60 and continued traveling the world with family, friends and fellow Key West High School alums. In 2010, Ludy moved back East with her daughter, Yvette, and family and they moved to Palm Coast, Fla., where she lived until she passed away.

Our mother was a dynamic person with an outgoing personality and high energy. Music was her first love and passion, she had a phenomenal singing voice with operatic style and range, played many instruments and had perfect pitch. She sang for radio, weddings, choirs, musicals and anyone who would ask of her. She sang in hundreds of performances during her lifetime.

Her senior year at Key West High School she landed a small speaking part in the movie "The Rose Tattoo," which was filmed in Key West and won an Oscar that year. She was then dubbed by her late cousin, Freddy Cabanas, as "Key West's first movie star."

She had great wit and wisdom with a boundless quest for knowledge. She read hundreds of books each year and world history was her favorite. Our mother had a great love and was an advocate for all animals, caring for and raising all types from dogs to horses.

Ludy was a fantastic cook of all cuisines, a skill she said she inherited from her mother and grandmother. Our mother had a personality that would light up a room. She was kind to all and never met a person she could not befriend. She had a deep faith in God and Catholicism, and we are sure she has joined the angels in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.

Ludy leaves behind a loving family that includes her children Loriann Lippy, James D. Vanzant and Yvette M. Fife; her sons-in-law Michael Fife and Richard Brown; daughter-in-law Pamela Vanzant; five grandchildren, Brooke and D.J. Vanzant, Timothy and Casey Smith and Sean LeBeau; and two great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister Elena D. Chancellor; her sisters-in-law Alicia Diaz, Peggy Hepting, MaryEllen Vanzant and Nina Simerly; her nieces Julie Hendricks and Loretta Barton; and nephews Edwin Neal and Roy Chancellor. Ludy has many more nieces, nephews, cousins and friends whom she dearly loved.

In honor of our mother, there will be a funeral Mass at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, followed immediately by a graveside service in the Catholic section of the Key West Cemetery.