LILA HARVEE CHANDLER
On Monday, Feb. 11, we lost the best and bravest when Lila passed away from lung cancer.
Lila was born in Miami, Fla., on Nov. 12, 1935, the only child of Lila Ouida Gertrude Chandler, nee Smith, and Harvey G.P. Chandler.
As a child, Lila participated in the activities her mother thought proper for a young Southern girl -- ballet, tap dancing, piano, and dramatics, in which Lila excelled as she was a natural comedian and a bit of a drama queen.
From childhood Lila was especially close to a young family friend whom she called her "other mother," Mary Morris. They remained true lifelong friends until Mary's death in 1997.
Lila graduated from Miami High School in 1953, and not long afterward moved to New York City, where she lived for five years. She was on her own there and she made the most of it. She discovered new freedoms and made new fabulous and bizarre friends. She also mastered the art of waiting tables.
She returned to Miami and in 1968 moved to Key Largo, where she and her partner owned the business Mama Bear Maintenance.
Lila loved nature, especially the Everglades and the Keys, and in the '70s became a Florida Park Ranger at Bahia Honda. She left the park in the '80s and moved to Ocala, Fla. There she enrolled in college for the first time at the age of 53 and graduated from the nursing program with honors and an RN degree.
Although Lila spent a year in medical/surgical nursing, her interest lay in psychiatric/ addictions nursing, which she pursued at dePoo Hospital in Key West for nearly 20 years.
Lila was funny, smart, generous, loving, and selfless to those she cared about. She had an ability to laugh at herself which made other people laugh and endeared her to them.
Lila loved to tell funny stories about herself, such as "The One About Falling Out of the Car." She also loved to recite her versions of fiction -- excerpts from Poe, a unique "Little Red Riding Hood" and an R-rated "'Twas the Night before Christmas."
Lila leaves behind her partner of 32 years, Carol Church; Carol's daughter, Kasey Church, much beloved; and wonderful friends, especially Marte Derousse, Martha Schnurr and our great neighbors. She is also survived by her favorite aunt, Helen Adcock of Jasper, Ala.; her cousins, Martha and Pam of Birmingham, Ala., and Gloria of Haines City, Fla.
We had a wonderful time together in a wonderful world. We went on road trips and camped in beautiful places, including Chaco Canyon in New Mexico -- truly a spiritual and amazing place where the birds are bold, curious and friendly toward people. We enjoyed exploring, camping, birding, snorkeling, and identifying native plants.
We laughed a lot. Thank you for making me happy.
In keeping with Lila's wishes, there will be no services.