Lilia Morales Ayala, 93, of Jamestown, died Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, at Heritage Village Nursing Home in Gerry, N.Y.
She was born April 11, 1919, in the town of Mayaquez, Puerto Rico, to Vicente Morales and Francis-ca Aran. She was preceded in her in death by husbands: Norman E. Cortright and later on in life, Juan Ayala. Also preceding her death is her daughter, Christine; her sister, Raquel; and grandchild, William.
Surviving are her daughter, Victoria Swanson from Washburn, Wis.; her sons: Leslie Cortright from Utica, N.Y., Ronald Cor-tright from Greenville, N.C., and Robert N. Cortright from Falconer, N.Y. She will be remembered by her beloved grandchildren: Jonathan Cortright, Eric Cortright, Kristopher Cortright, Mark David Swan-son, Adam Cortright, Robert N. Cortright Jr., Jamie L. Griffin, Richard Mohney, Debbie Herrera and Elena Marie Cortright. She will also be missed by her extended family, Laurie Cortright Balderson of Virginia, and John Baldwin Cortright from California; as well as seven great-grandchildren.
If there was ever an unstoppable search for knowledge, Lilia Dolores Ayala would be that search. Her accomplishments included a scholarship recipient to Hunter College, N.Y., where she excelled academically in language arts, graduating suma cum laude and was a Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society recipient and earned her master's degree in education from Potsdam University, Potsdam, N.Y.
With an insatiable thirst for reading and a respect for all cultures, Lilia was fluent in four languages (Spanish, English, French and Italian) and taught Spanish at all levels (as well as English-related courses) for Jamestown High School for 15 years. She was also sought after to teach at Jamestown Community College. She was selected to deliver the 1974 keynote speaker address at the Jamestown High School graduation ceremony, Chautauqua, N.Y.
Lilia and her husband, Juan, retired to Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, for 15 years but returned to Jamestown, N.Y., to be closer with family. She remained active in teaching for the New York Board of Education until the age of 88, contributing to the development of English proficiency among the local Hispanic population. She was recognized in 1999 for her invaluable volunteer work in teaching English as a second language, contributions toward fundraisers, and speaking engagements by The United Way Joint Neighborhood Project, Jamestown, N.Y., who described her as "a ray of sunshine" for the people she served.
Among family, friends, and colleagues, Lilia was universally admired and respected for her scholarship, academic accomplishments, her passion for comparative culture and religion (although she was a devout Catholic and active member of St. James), and for her compassion for those in need. The world will miss a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, scholar and humanitarian.
A memorial service will take place at St. James Church, Jamestown, N.Y., on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at 10 a.m., with funeral services provided by the Migliore Funeral Home.
Contributions can be made to the Heritage Village Skilled Nursing Home Facility, Gerry N.Y.