Lila F. Pelelo was born to Alan and Verna Fagan in 1928, in a farmhouse west of Merrill. The family later moved to a farm south of Merrill, and it was here that Mrs. Pelelo lived most of her life. She graduated from East High School in 1946, attended a two-year training program at St. Joseph's Hospital to become a registered x-ray technician, and worked at hospitals and doctor's offices for the next 12 years.
In 1948, she married Alex Pelelo, of Sioux City, at First Plymouth Presbyterian Church in Akron. In 1952, they moved to the family farm and together farmed 200 acres and raised seven children. Alex died in 1984, and Lila continued to farm for several years afterward.
Mrs. Pelelo was active in service and civic matters throughout her life. A 50-year member of Eastern Star and past Grand Officer, she was also active in Daughters of the Nile, White Shrine, and Rainbow Girls. She was an active member of First Plymouth Presbyterian Church and its Ladies' Circle. In the 1960s, while caring for five children and running the farm while Alex was hospitalized with TB, Mrs. Pelelo chaired the Republican Party in Plymouth County, and was an active organizer in the 1964 presidential election. In the 70s, she sat on the board of directors for the Libertyville Treatment Program.
In 1978, Mrs. Pelelo was elected to the Le Mars Community School Board, a position she held for more than 20 years, and served as president of the board for two of those years. In the 1980s, she was a hotline counselor for victims of domestic violence, and recently took an interest in Habitat for Humanity.
Mrs. Pelelo spent her "retirement years" at USA Coin, where she worked for 20 years until the store closed in 2005. Here she developed a detailed knowledge of rare coins, sports memorabilia, and jewelry; she shared this expertise with her children and grandchildren through gifts and stories.
She is survived by seven children: Mary Laroco, Sioux City, Mike Pelelo and his wife, Diann of Sioux City, Steve Pelelo and his wife, Jonnie Moon of Colorado Springs, Colo., Margaret Ottinger and her husband, Matt of Shelburne, Vt., Sara Winchester of Colorado Springs, Colo., Cathi Pelelo and her husband Lyndon Ray of Le Mars, and Bob Pelelo and his wife, Ann of Dubuque; grandchildren Rob and Ryan Laroco, Allison (Cliff Burnette) Coover, Alex C. Pelelo, Harvey and Lila Ottinger, Nick Cross, Sam, Abby and Rose Pelelo-Ray, Thomas and Joshua Pelelo; two great-grandchildren, Rose Lee Coover and Connor Burnette; a sister, Leona Thorpe, Le Mars, and brother, Leland Fagan and his wife, Beverly, Merrill. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews.
She was preceded in death by his parents; and her husband Alex.
Funeral services will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Plymouth Presbyterian Church, rural Le Mars. The Rev. Jason Larson will officiate. Burial will follow at the church cemetery. Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Mauer-Johnson Funeral Home of Le Mars. The family will be present from 6 to 8 p.m. with an Order of the Eastern Star service scheduled for 7 p.m. There will also be one hour of visitation at the church prior to the funeral.
Expressions of sympathy may be directed through www.mauerjohnsonfh.com.