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Celebrating the life of

Lila Wood Shockley

Passed away on February 17, 2024

Lila Wood Shockley

Lila Shockley, born Lila June Wood in El Centro, CA, has died at 90 years old.

Lila spent the first nine years of her life in the Imperial Valley of California after her parents moved there from Texas. Her father, Herman, was a farm foreman who specialized in growing melons. Her mother, Mae, cooked for the farmhands in order to supplement their income during the Great Depression.

When she was nine, Lila and her family moved north to Patterson, California where Mom met friends who developed into lifelong relationships.

After graduating high school, Lila wanted to see the world. She applied for stewardess training with United Airlines and attended their school in Cheyenne, WY. Lila spent the next ten years either flying out of Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. By 1960, she was the Chief Stewardess making her the only female executive at that time.

While on a tour of Europe with other stewardesses, Lila met a young officer, Al Shockley. They exchanged Christmas cards for two years. In 1960, Lila was flying from D.C., and Al was stationed an hour away in Virginia. They had their first date on Valentine’s Day and were married on April 30 of that same year. 

At that time, stewardesses were not allowed to be married, so Lila gave up her job, and they moved to Fort Lewis, WA. Their first child, Cara, was born 29 May 1961. Ten days later, after packing up the house in Fort Lewis, the new family went to Monterrey, California for Al to attend a five- week class on Vietnamese before assignment to Vietnam, the first of three tours and family separations imposed by Army life.

Upon his return, the family moved to Arlington, VA where Al pursued a Master’s degree. Their second child, Dana, was born 18 April 1964. On Thanksgiving of 1964, the entire family arrived in Saigon. In February of 1965, Lila grabbed go bags and both children in order to fly back to the U.S. as part of an evacuation of dependents.

From that date through Al’s retirement in January 1984, Lila was the quintessential Army wife.

Moves to London, England and Brussels, Belgium were organized and carried through while Al studied for his Ph.D. and worked long hours at the Pentagon. There were additional moves between the international ones including California and Virginia Beach. Lila took care of everything.

In the mid-1970s Lila started to work for the Federal government as a gun tracer for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and then as a travel agent for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. She continued working for the Federal government in Belgium. After Al’s retirement, they went back to Europe where he headed Boston University’s Master’s program in International Relations for four years, moving every four months to a new location to teach. Boston University offered him work in Boston and Lila returned to work for the Federal Government until a heart issue forced her early retirement. Al was offered a post heading Boston University’s year abroad program in London, England, and they happily returned to Europe.

After Al finally retired from Boston University, they lived in Modesto, California and later moved to Los Angeles to be closer to their daughter Dana and the V.A. hospitals. Lila helped Al through two different cancer diagnoses while Al continued to teach two days a week at local junior colleges.

They made their final move, to Savannah, in August of 2019. Al died in March of 2020. Later that year, Lila had a heart attack and informed her daughters they would not lose both parents in one year.

While she was often in pain from a broken back incurred on Mother's Day 2019, Lila maintained her independence until she suffered the first of three minor strokes in August of 2021. Cara became her chauffeur as one of the strokes had affected her eyesight, but she still enjoyed movies, dining out, and visiting friends and family.

A final, major, stroke happened on 3 February 2024, and Lila entered hospice care at home at her own request. She died on 17 February 2024 with her daughters by her side.



Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel