Inland Valley News and the Inland Valley Mourns the Death of Linda Somilleda
By Tommy Morrow, IVN Publisher
West Covina, CA– The Inland Valley News’s suffered a great loss with the death of its Publishers Advisory Board Member Linda Somilleda on July 24, 2012. Linda was an integral part of organizing the Publishers’ Advisory Board over 15 years ago. She remained a dedicated and devoted member up until her untimely death. She served as Board Chair and leader of a number of committees that supported the annual Celebration of Excellence Scholarship Gala. One of the special responsibilities that she enjoyed was to work with the honoree selection committee and presenting the award on behalf of Foothill Transit.
Linda would often host the Board for some of the lunch meetings at the corporate office of the Foothill Transit. I only have fond memories of Linda. We often talked about family, the transit industry and her presentations at transit conferences. We shared family photos and talked about hope for the future. She was so proud of her family, husband Nick and daughter Natalie. She was excited about Natalie’s academic accomplishments and the tremendous strides she is making at the university. Linda would often share with the Board members recent pictures of Natalie’s special events.
Linda was a special lady to my wife and me and to the staff and Advisory Board of the Inland Valley News. She would often participate with our other non-newspaper events and activities. My heart is sad and I find it difficult to imagine the loss of a great friend and colleague. We will forever cherish her work and the impact that she had on all of us.
The Inland Valley News will establish the Linda Somilleda Academic Scholarship. This scholarship will become a permanent part of the Celebration of Excellence Gala and will be awarded annually. Her impact on our community will always be remembered.
Linda Somilleda, 52, Director of Customer Service and Operations and Foothill Transit in West Covina died of complications resulting from treatment of a rare disease on Tuesday, July 24, 2012.
Linda Somilleda joined Foothill Transit in 1996 as the agency’s Marketing and Communications Specialist and quickly advanced to Associate Director of Marketing and Communications and then finally to Director in 2002. She played an instrumental role on the agency’s leadership team for many years and worked to craft and evolve Foothill Transit’s brand and marketing initiatives. Earlier this year she was promoted to Director of Customer Service and Operations to meld her previous work with the agency’s front-line customer service team and the operation of service on the streets of the communities Foothill Transit serves.
Somilleda was also very active in the local community, serving on the boards of the YWCA of the San Gabriel Valley, Project Amiga, and Inland Valley News. Nationwide, Somilleda had cultivated a reputation in the transit industry as a tireless, passionate and energetic pursuer of excellence and believed strongly in the importance of public transportation and its role in improving the quality of life of our communities.
“Her absence leaves behind a huge hole in our industry, in this agency, and in our hearts,” said Foothill Transit Executive Board Chair Patricia Wallach. “We are devastated, shocked and collectively we mourn her loss with deep sorrow.”
This past year, Somilleda had been battling a rare disease called pseudomyxoma peritonei – a cancer-like illness that is diagnosed in only one in one million people each year. Most people with this disease don’t discover it until it is too late for treatment. Somilleda’s diagnosis was achieved during a regular procedure late last year which enabled her to pursue treatment locally at the renowned cancer treatment center City of Hope in Duarte.
“Linda received outstanding, cutting edge care at City of Hope,” said Doran Barnes, Executive Director at Foothill Transit. “While her illness wasn’t a secret, we know she didn’t widely broadcast that she was ill, in part because she fully expected to return to us to continue her work.”
Somilleda is survived by her husband Nick and her daughter Natalie. Information about memorial services and a memorial fund is pending and will be posted to the LinkedIn discussion page started by members of the American Public Transportation Association’s marketing committee.