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Obituary – Leela Abraham 1926-2020

Leela Abraham, 94, a devout Christian and a matriarch of the Las Vegas community passed away at Kottayam, Kerala.  Leela was well known among the early members of the local Indian community.  Leela moved to Las Vegas in the early seventies, 1972 to be exact, from Virginia to join University Medical Center as an Emergency Room nurse. Leela never got married.  With no immediate member of the family in Las Vegas, her local friends from the United Methodist Church and members of the Las Vegas Indian community were her family.  

With the passing of her best friend, Milly in 2015, and declining health, Leela felt alone though some members of the community continuously assisted her with daily chores.  Leela’s niece, Alice from New York came to Vegas and moved her under the care of a local care provider.  With an early stage of dementia setting in and no family member in Vegas, Alice made arrangements to move Leela to her birth city Kottayam, Kerala, India, for caring medical and personal care.  Occasionally, some of Leela’s local friends stayed in touch with her at the church-run assisted living facility in Kottayam. Before moving to India, in 2016 Leela celebrated her 90thbirthday with a close circle of local friends.

Leela graduated from the ETCM School and College of Nursing, a Methodist Church institution in Kerala, India.  Immediately after graduation with a Nursing degree, Leela moved to Agra for her first job at a mission hospital.  Later she moved to a prestigious hospital in Delhi as a registered nurse supervisor in their infectious diseases department.  After few years in Delhi, Leela joined a two-year work-study program in psychiatry, on full scholarship, at Oxford, England.  From Oxford, England, she decided to move to Canada to practice Psychiatric Nursing at St. Catherine, closer to Niagara Falls, in Ontario.  Before her move to Las Vegas, Leela had a brief stopover in Philadelphia and at the University of Virginia Hospital.

Leela’s first job in Vegas was at the University Medical Center where she worked in the emergency room. After spending a couple of years at UMC, Leela’s final stop was at Sunrise Hospital where she worked for over 15 years before retiring in 1995. 

In 2010, on Valentine’s Day, the United Methodist Church honored Leela for her volunteer spirit and dedicated service to the Las Vegas community.  The United Methodist Women honored both,  Leela and Milly (Leela’s roommate and childhood friend) for their 50 years plus friendship and as true Christian sisters.  The then NV Governor, Jim Gibbons, issued a certificate of recognition for the excellence in service and in faith as a citizen of Las Vegas along with Mayor Oscar Goodman issuing a proclamation proclaiming February 14th, 2010 as Leela Abraham and Milly Edwin Day in the City of Las Vegas.

Leela was a compassionate, kindhearted, caring, benevolent, and most importantly a matriarch of the Las Vegas Indian community.  In her late eighties and vulnerable, she was deceived into loaning a substantial amount of money to some of the known friends/members of the local Indian community. Repeated phone calls and requests for loan payback were futile. Being committed to her unwavering generosity and religious beliefs, she refused to report to authorities for the scam committed on her by the so-called friends.  

Leela was revered by the members of the Indian community, her church, and most important by her patients throughout her professional life.  Leela’s memories will last forever with the Indian community.

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2 Comments to Obituary – Leela Abraham 1926-2020

  1. Ashok Malik says:

    I knew Milli, Leela and Alice her niece. They came to Vegas when I was here as a student at UNLV. Without any question they were the most loving, caring girls I have ever known anywhere. We were only few Indians in Las Vegas , It was just like a close knit family. These two were best of the best. God gives the peace. I personally will miss them tremendously.

  2. Nirmalya Chatterjee says:

    It is gratifying to see how Vegas Desi and Professor Satish Bhatnagar have honored the memory of late Ms. Leela Abraham. I have not personally known Ms. Abraham but through the articles and photos, I can feel the friendship and admiration she left behind through her affection and warmth for the community. Thank you for doing that.

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