Leanore May "Lea" Vlastelica
May 25, 1928 - October 26, 2017

From: Linda Vlastelica Souva

So much has been said.  My sibings, life-long family friends, my husband, and mom's grand-kids >> have all been spoken what my heart feels.

First, I want to practice one of mom's great lessons - don't take anything or anyone for granted.  To that end, my thankyou list is endless.  The biggest call out is to our brother Rich.  When we starting packing and moving mom to come back to San Jose from SLO, she was to come live with Fran and I.  Mid-stream, mom stopped to spend a few days with Rich, which turned into 4.5 years later.  Rich supported mom, like he had our paternal grandparents before us -- and there are no words of gratitude and awe that capture my admiration and appreciation of him.   Thanks, Rosebud


Secondly, I have a handful of exceptional friends and family that I can honestly say, are beyond compare.  My mom once told me that husbands are nice, but nothing replaces an exceptional girl-friends.  Again mom was right!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


So I will spend a few moments sharing what I believe mom tried so hard to teach us.  And of course, being mom - everyday was a learning moment.

 I will be honest that I'm still very much the novice and living up to the high standards mom - and dad set.  But I do my best. Daily.   And when I'm not cutting it, I'm fortunately to have a great family and network of friends who quite quickly remind me...


So here goes.  The big lessons. 

1.     Never lose your sense of wonder and awe.  Enjoy, relish and find what is special in every living thing.  Tomorrow is not a given.

     If you ever walked with mom, traveled or had an interesting conversation, she would always always know some amazing and interesting fact about so many things.   My youngest memories are filled with sharing amazement on the complex and beautiful world we live in – and our responsibilities to increase it’s beauty – through the arts, gardening, etc.  


2.  Treat all people and God's creatures with respect   Acknowledge all things serve a purpose.  

      ---   Honor people and animals as the special and unique being each one is.   Focus on what makes them special.  Anybody can find what's not so good or great in others and animals, but challenge myself to be 'special' and  find what is 'great' within that person and/or animal.   Mom's love of animals I share, but it is clear that she has passed that gene in full force to our son Shawn and his fiance.  To be honest, mom was less open on the whole bug and spider thing, but it is a minor exception..


3.  Don't say your smart, be smart!  

      Mom's  thirst for knowledge was unquenchable.  It's hard to remember a moment when she didn't have a book or magazine in her hand to read.    She was the true definition of a life-time learner.   Moreover,  she darn well expected each of us to be as well!   I really envy mom for she, never-ever lost, the ability and desire to learn, retain and challenge assumptions.  She has set the bar, pretty high, at least for me on this one. 

    This love of knowledge and the desire to 'understand' fed her fever to travel.   Travel was much of a Dad thing, but here is where her match for history, traveling and learning with Stan was a spot-on match.  I got that trait - for sure.   And I married this great man, who shares that same keen awareness and awe of history and the world we live in.

4.  Always act with Integrity.     No exceptions.  No easy ways out.  There are no excuses or short cuts for this.

5.  Be true and kind to yourself.  

   ...  This is the lesson I've learned least well from my mom.  One she continued to remind me daily to keep working on.  I honestly look at our parents -- and keep feeling like I'm falling short of what they were so both, so naturally,  And I look at so many of my great friends - and they get 'it" and they are so good! at  it.   This was mom's most common  (and favorite) lecture to me.  I only had to believe in myself as much as she and Fran did - and everything would be perfect.  Okay, one lesson that is still very much in progress for me..

6. Sing with pure joy and dance with abandon!

        --- For me these lessons were reinforced in my earliest year.  As the baby of the family, I did get the extra time with her when all the 'big' kids were off to school and activities.   Mom and I spent those extra houses singing, dancing through the household and deck - with valley below as our audience.  Wow, did she and Grandma Nellie have incredible voices!   

At this point, we are going to end the formal portion of this service.   It is our request, the family, that you enjoy all the great memories and time you had with our mom.    We also ask, that you seek someone out in this group today, that you don’t know.  Mom adored meeting new people and hearing their story.  Share a good laugh story or a “lea-ism”.

May we all live, or do our best, against the great role model mom – and dad – have provided us.




Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017

From Rosie Carroll - fiance Shawn Souva. Read by Hermes Sipenuk

The ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died they would be asked two questions before their soul could pass onwards.

The first question was did they find joy?

-  I think that anybody who knew Grandma Lea could say with certainty that she found joy, many, many times in her life. Whenever she reminisced about her late husband Ron, she would do so with a smile on her face as she talked about how they built their life together, literally one room at a time in their first house. And how those rooms would no sooner be built than they were filled with their children.

She would tell you straight up that she might not always have agreed with everything her kids have done but it was clear to anybody who spent time with her that she loved them fiercely and found great joy in them. The same can be said of all her grandchildren, great grandchildren and all those who became family along the way.

She also talked about finding a much unexpected joy later in life with her partner Stan after missing her dear Ron.   Love was Stan was a different love and one that filed very different interest and needs for her.

  • She treasured finding a companion to share her life and her many adventures all around the world with. So in short, yes, Grandma did find a great deal of joy in her lifetime.

       The second question a soul could be asked, in ancient Egyptian  methodology of which Lea was such a fan was  --  did you bring joy?

   …. No doubt everybody here has many happy memories of time spent with Grandma Lea.

      For me, visiting Grandma was always a highlight of my time in California. We could spend hours talking about everything under the sun. From her fiery and steadfast political views, to our interests in the natural world and, most importantly our mutual love of coconut cream pie, there wasn’t many topics we didn’t touch upon.

      Grandma was a great judge of character and situation. She was a pretty straight talker, had no hesitation in shooting from the hip, giving you both barrels, if she thought you needed to hear it.

     She also loved a good gossip and had no trouble in telling you exactly how she felt about a given person, most often accompanied with a mischievous smile and a shrug of the shoulders at the end of her judgement.

     I will miss those talks and i will miss her greatly. If bringing joy to others is a prerequisite to pass beyond the pearly gates then I’m pretty sure Grandma will sail on through, no bother to her.

    I’ve kept Mike talking for long enough, so I would like to finish with a quote that I came across while trying to find inspiration for my words today:

There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart. - Ghandi

Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017

From Rich "Rosebud" Vlastelica

“Goodnight Mom, I love you.”

Spending the last four years with my mother has been a true blessing. I honestly wouldn’t have wanted things to be any different and to tell you the truth I believe that my mom felt the same way. In keeping care of my mom I was able to not just keep care of her, but to spend time with her that we otherwise wouldn’t have had together if she had been living anywhere else. Living with mom brought many blessings, one of which was our evening salutation and our morning greetings that I looked forward to every day. Every night I would say, “Good night Mom, I love you.” And in the mornings, at which time I am not the happiest of people, she would say, “Good morning, Son.” From all of this time that we got to spend with each other, I was fortunate enough to share many stories and have many conversations with her that I will always cherish.

Very recently, during one of these conversations, we were discussing age. It was at this time that she mentioned to me that she honestly felt as though she had lived a very full and happy life. She stated that she had traveled to just about every place that she had wanted to see and that she had been very happy in all that she had done. She had told me that she had met some wonderful people, spent time with them and had some very happy memories with them, and didn’t have a desire to do much of anything else. One thing she did not want to do was become a burden to anyone or to be uncomfortable or in pain. My mother was definitely never a burden to me ever but she was becoming uncomfortable. In her final moments we know that she was not in pain or distress and that she was comfortable.

My mother was a very generous person who contributed to many different charities and efforts, as those of you who have viewed the memorial page that has been set up in her memory may have noticed. She was always one for a great conversation and enjoyed her books and detective t.v. shows as well. She was an amazing woman who I am proud to call my mom and if I could, I would thank her for that today. Mom would never hurt anyone, unless of course she was maybe sharing with you her opinion or telling you like it is, and then maybe your feelings would get hurt a bit, but she was always honest with you.  

“Good night, Mom. I love you.”

By Richard Rosebud Vlastelica


Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017

From Shawn Souva (grandson) read by his 1st cousin, Hermes Sipenuk

Hello, Although I may not be here personally to share these memories of Grandma Lea with you all, I can still very much feel her presence alongside me as I write these words.   I have asked my first cousin, Hermes to read on by behalf.

When my mother divorced my natural father we lived with Grandma Lea and Grandpa Ron for a short while. It was during this time that the special connection between Grandma Lea and I blossomed.

It started out as a sparkle and a mischievous twinkle in my eye and it quickly formed into the deepest of bonds before either one of us knew it. I was the apple of her eye and she became the cherry of mine.   Literally, as in, top of the many banana splits we shared in secret (sorry Grandma Lea!)

As a young boy my love for animals was fostered by an incredible grandmother who volunteered at the local zoo. From behind the scene access to the goats at the petting zoo, to holding boa constrictors, to a talking cockatoo on her shoulder, no matter what somehow all of our adventures ended up being both educational and fun at the same time in ways I only realise now as an adult.

And when we couldn’t visit the Happy Hollow Zoo we would often go for a walk to a nearby pond to feed our favourite mallard ducks with a bag of bread in tow…… I can still remember it now, being chased around by a flock of ravenous ducks, running for my dear life as I look to Grandma Lea for assistance, only to my dismay, find her bent over laughing so hard with her hand on her knee. Yes what a sight it must have been. Her young chubby grandson barely able to out manoeuvre the ducks in a slow speed chase around the pond. But just when I thought I’d find my doom, and the ducks would overtake me, there Grandma Lea was, yet again to save the day.

As I began to grow and mature over time, so too did my connection and relationship with Grandma Lea. Her discipline was always firm and just, yet she made certain I knew I was always loved regardless of the punishment I received. Conversations with Grandma Lea became legendary and the older I grew the deeper these talks would become. Her advice and words of wisdom were always brutally honest and straight to the heart of the matter in a way that only she could express.

Grandma Lea was much more than a simple grandma, who’s cooking would become the standard to which every other woman in my life would be measured (sorry Mom and Rosie!).

She was my own zookeeper, my personal advice giver and my secret banana split sharer, but more than all that, she was my guidance counsellor, my teacher of life and last but certainly not least Grandma Lea will forever be my hero.

So many of my life lessons came from time spent with Grandma Lea. She was able to touch my life for the positive in so many countless ways, that to this day, I am still realising all the amazing things I have in this life due to her and her love for me.

Thank you Grandma Lea, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for teaching me that no amount of money in this world is worth more than the memories we made and shared together.


I would not be half the man I am today without you as an influence in my life.

In closing, although Grandma Lea may no longer be here with us in the physical sense, I am proud to take her spirit with me and the best parts of who she was and what she taught, for the world to see.


I love you Grandma Lea and I know I will see you once again in the fut

Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017

From: Ron Vlastelia - to mom's Celebration of Life

First I would like thank everyone for being here.  I know it has been on short notice and very much appreciate your efforts to come today.  Special thanks go out to Rich and Linda for their tireless work along with their support group to make today happen.

Most of us know that Mom was a world traveler and those adventures continued into her early 80’s.  Mom’s true love of history and knowledge was always part of every trip around the world.  It was on one of these trips that she met Stan after my father’s death.  So Mom was very fortunate to loved by 2 men that appreciated her and treated her well.  

I would like to touch on a side of mom that I really respected her for.  As a close friend that is unable to be here today said that mom raised 5 “only children”.  That is pretty much a true statement.  It is the way that she did that that is impressive to me.  Sometimes an “only” child is spoiled, and pushed to excel since the parents expect many great things from their “one and only” child.  This wasn’t the case with Mom.  Mom raised all of us to be our very best and was always there with encouragement and support in a quiet way.  She allowed us to make mistakes and was there to pick us up and continue.   She allowed us to develop as individuals without restraint.  Mom empowered each of us to stand up for our own beliefs, and executing actions around those beliefs, to the best of our ability.

I have learned many lessons from mom over the years and on one subject about 40 years ago when I was going through a major transition in life.  We discussed my taking a teaching job, first at Foothill College and then going to Europe as Dir. of Training for an airline.  Her wisdom was to remember that you can never “teach by telling”.  You have to let them make mistakes but mentor them in learning to improve and advance their skills themselves. I have followed that advice for the last 30 years as an educator of pilots and boy scouts.    What great insight and valuable lesson that has helped me throughout all these years.  I talked about this regularly as she always wanted to know what lessons have I and my students learned lately.  I’ll miss these talks and her common sense approach to life.

Over the years we had plenty of private conversations dealing with pressing issues I felt important at the time and wanted a valued insight of her philosophy and viewpoints.  Mom and I would set a time and place when we’d be in private.  This was especially true the last 7 years.  I still have notes from our discussions where we would list and discuss the pro and cons of the subject at hand. Then she’d let me talk it out and decide how I wanted to approach the solution to that subject.  Following that, she’d always ask if I wanted her opinion.  Of course I did!  MOM was always very logical and would lovingly give her opinion and reason for them and possible side effects that I might want to consider.  Again in her caring and loving way, Mom empowered me to go forward, knowing I had considered my actions.  We did not always agree, but we respected each other, our feelings and understood our convictions of the subject. In the end Mom supported not only me but, I think all of my siblings and close friends here.  Mom was a refined treasure to be admired and grateful for her in our lives for such a long period of time.  We have been truly blessed to have her presence, comfort, friendship and wisdom throughout her life.

Mom was by far the parent that did everything for us on the daily basis, especially during tax season when dad worked very long days.  Always remember April 16th as a day with Dad on the golf course with his other CPA friends.  

Another area that Mom felt strong about was relationships and maintaining them.  All of us here have personally been graced by Mom and our individual relationships with her and family.  Bill, with your permission I’d like to give an example of our relationship and friendship and what that meant to Mom.  

Bill and I became friends as freshman in high school.  We played golf together and generally hung out together most of the time.  Mom grew fond of Bill from the start and always included Bill as a guest for dinner and even for Xmas day family dinners and other events.  Bill was like many of you, part of our extended family and maybe the first person in that extended family, following those of the Harbor family that lived across the street.  That also meant that if we got in trouble he got treated the same way the all the sibling did.  There were no exceptions.

I made a huge mistake as I took Dads brand new car for a joy ride one night.  I forced Bill to come along!  Three of us paid the price for that bad decision on my part.  Dad forbid Bill and I to see each other away from school…. For 2 years.  Mom thought the punishment was too harsh and allowed Bill to come around quietly after a cooling off period.  Mom eventually asked Bill to come over on Xmas day and told Dad the relationship was worth more than the punishment and that we all had suffered, including Mom.  Bill and Mom didn’t see each other very much since he lived away from CA  in the following years, but they emailed and spoke on the phone throughout their lives on a regular basis.   Bill can tell more, but mentioned that their conversation were most intellectual in nature with a variety of subjects.  They both enjoyed a good conversation.  Many of us have also enjoyed many such conversations with Mom.

Some of our extended family here today has many similar stories to share.   Mom’s wish is that we all have this time to share some of our memories together and be forever thankful for such a wonderful mother and friend being in our lives.

Thank you for coming today and May God bless each and every one of you!

Mom, we love and miss you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for you loving caring manner that was truly you!


Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017

From Lynn Vlastelica Sipenuk > to Mom

Monday, November 06, 2017 4:02 PM


I feel like storm tossed wreckage. For so long I believed the false summer breezes that whispered that she would always be there, willing to listen and then offering love and wisdom. Sailed along- knowing there was she was there, when suddenly storm-tossed dark clouds formed, our family's ship was floundering and I could only cry, "No." The wind continued to grow, sometimes tossing angry should-have-done thoughts, other times warm caressing memories kissed tear-stained cheeks, and still-life photos, memory clips shining/flickering like stars peeking through ragged clouds. Then came the typhoon of her death, with crashing waves of grief. Pounded, swirled here and there, left lying on the broken reef….a writing teacher’s craft with words smashed beyond recognition. Surrounded by the words and phrases of two languages, unable to find the perfect ones that Mom deserves to have surrounding her like floral sweet-smelling marmars (leis).
Mom had come to Chuuk three different times and been a part of island life. Though not her preferred lifestyle, she accommodated, and followed the training she had given us by trying the local foods made in her and Dad’s ( and later Stan’s) honor. It was wondrous to see my two families fall in love with each other, though the elders shared no common language. Here was proof that love transcends language and culture. One of Mom’s statements at the end of her first visit, “Now I don’t have to worry about you because I know they (Sim’s family) will care for you,” and one undocumented picture –Mom, Dad, Tar, Umiko (my Moms and Dads) sitting at the airport trying not to cry at the parting to come will remain with me always. 

Mom was a huge supporter of my efforts at building a library at Chuuk High School. She sent her books, Grandpa Darce’s books and her valuable collection of National Geographic magazines that we had grown up reading. Her donations of National Geographic magazines lured many a reluctant reader into wanting to learn and even beginning to love reading. Our shared love of science fiction and fantasy led to probably the largest library collection of sci-fi and fantasy in the islands; infecting students who stumbled into that area by mistake and stayed to gaze into far-off worlds. Thank you, Mom. 

Though few will believe it, I most admired Mom’s ability to make others feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts, feelings, and problems, and her willingness to listen and then offer sage advice. Though as a teen I could not do this myself, I was actually a little jealous that so many of our contemporaries could and did. Luckily, l learned to open up a bit as I grew older and we did share more. Now if someone needs me to lend a ear, I flash back and try to be as good a listener as Mom always was. When asked for advice, I wing a prayer towards Mom for help and then think twice before saying anything. Thank you, Mom, for in some slight way instilling this quality in me. Remain over my shoulder, whispering wisdom in my ear.

Love does cross oceans, Moms somehow always know. I can not recall the number of times a little surprise box would come just when I was feeling low, a box sent anywhere from two weeks to a month before I ran into one of life’s little bumps. When asked how she knew before anything was even wrong, Mom shrugged and just said she had a “feeling.” Psychic, or just being a supermom, we never knew, but perhaps it was just another of Mom’s special abilities. 

Smile down on us all. Thank you for everything you've done throughout your life.

Lynn Sipenuk (Sapore, Fefan, FM)

Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017



I'd like the memory of me

to be a happy one,

I'd like to leave an afterglow

of smiles when life is done.

I'd like to leave an echo whispering

softly down the ways,

Of happy times and laughing times

and bright and sunny days.


I'd like the tears of those who grieve,

to dry before the sun

Of happy memories that I leave

When life is done.


-Author Unknown

Started by Linda V Souva on November 18, 2017

In keeping with Lea's beliefs to improve our world, please...

Consider donating to one of Lea's favorite charites versus sending flowers. 


As this site does not provide donation tracking, please notify lvsouva@gmail.com

Started by Linda V Souva on November 03, 2017

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