LILLIAN ANN REPESH PhDLillian Ann Repesh, PhD, died peacefully on Aug. 20, 2012, at home in the arms of her loving family.
Lillian Ann Repesh, PhD, died peacefully on Aug. 20, 2012, at home in the arms of her loving family. It was a quiet ending to a courageous 16 month battle with pancreatic cancer, the illness she simply referred to as an 'inconvenience'. She never allowed it to keep her from living life to the fullest; giving her all to the students, friends and family she loved so much. Her body gave out. She never gave up.
Lillian Ann was born on Nov. 5, 1950 to Natalina and Ernesto Maracchini who had immigrated to Hibbing from Montelago, Italy a few years before.
She grew up in her home town and attended Hibbing High School where in 1967 (45 years ago last week!) she met the love of her life and soul mate, Vince Repesh. They were married six years later.
Lili attended Hibbing Community College and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Biology and Education. She went on to graduate school at the University of North Dakota where Vince was coaching football. In 1979 she was one of the first two women to achieve a PhD in Anatomy from UND.
That was a remarkable year for the young Repesh's. On Aug. 19, 1979 they welcomed the joy of their lives, their beloved daughter Natalie. Only two weeks later Dr Repesh started her career as a professor in anatomy at the UMD School of Medicine. She did research in wound healing and later switched her focus to cancer research after Vince's mother died of pancreatic cancer.
Dr Repesh has had an outstanding career at UMD. She established herself as Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Microbiology and Pathology, where she continuously created innovative teaching models in the department. She was named Associate Dean of Student Affairs in 1990 and Associate Dean of Admissions in 1999.
Along with teaching anatomy, she fulfilled those positions with commitment and passion even throughout this past year.
The powerful positive influence she has had at UMD is impossible to measure. Her integrity, leadership and genuine concern for students and colleagues have been recognized in the thousands of tributes that continue to be written on Caring Bridge. She mentored and 'mothered' her students in a way only she could, with wise guidance and personal caring. There are over 1500 doctors that carry her special imprint; the patients and communities they serve, and the profession of medicine as a whole are better off because of her influence.
Along with being a responsible faculty leader on campus, Lili was a creative, playful, energetic woman who loved being with family and friends. She was devoted to her family and committed to her friends. If you ever wondered about the other men in her life named Rodney, Sparky or Butch, it was always and only Vince. They had the relationship that great love stories are made of, and were married 39 years this June. She treasured her mother, Natalina. "Nona" is 94 years old and still growing the best tomatoes on the range. Lili cherished her daughter, the one and only, Natalie. Not only her daughter, her best friend, and her nurse on her final weeks of life. And if you know her or have read Caring Bridge you know what a remarkable woman she is. Lili loved her son-in-law Brandon and adored her grandson, Brooks - the light of her life. Her loving presence extended throughout her entire family; she made it to all the important family events in Duluth, Hibbing and beyond. Lili was also an enthusiastic Marshall and Bulldog hockey fan, attending her nephews' games wearing the Flaherty jersey loud and proud!
Lili LOVED lake time! Two years ago she and Vince built their dream home on the site of their cabin property at Island Lake. It is a beautiful setting for the many family gatherings they have hosted. Lili's last days were at home in this house, filled with loving family and friends and overflowing with another of her passions, great food! She was an amazing cook, bringing her Italian heritage to life on the table. Lili and Vince and family visited her extended family in Italy as often as they could. She was a great traveler.
Lili had a wide circle of friends from all walks of life. She was truly interested in and concerned about other people. Loyalty, wisdom, humor, style, long walks, good wine, attention to detail, ability to really listen, and advice on first dates were just some of her special qualities. To be loved by Lili was to be truly cherished.
Some years ago when her best friend Cathy Ziegler died, Lili took up painting as a way to ease her grief. She found her natural gift as a watercolor artist and her talent was recognized when the Lake Superior Watercolor Society asked her to be a member. Along with all the other things she did, she became a great painter!
These are just a few of the things we remember that made Lili special. And yet no amount of writing can adequately describe the character of this great woman. Lili Repesh was physically gorgeous with a kind of humble inner beauty that did not call attention to her self but rather reflected the beauty in others. She was quietly strong, naturally gracious, and always thoughtfully kind. None of her own hardships got in the way of her concern for others. Being around Lili made you a better person because she looked for the best in you and helped you to see it in yourself. We can do her no greater honor than continue her legacy: do as she did - respect, love and care for others. There is no doubt the world is a better place because she has been in it. We grieve her passing and celebrate her continuing presence.
Lili was preceded in death by her father, Ernesto Maracchini; her step father, Joseph Monti; numerous aunts and uncles; her in-laws, Gazella and Vincent Repesh; Natalie's 'adopted' nana, Patricia Nelson.
Lili is survived by her husband Vince; her daughter Natalie and her husband Brandon Johnson; and her beloved grandson Brooks; her mother, Natalina; sister Pierina and her husband Buck Bussey and their children, niece (and friend) Dina and her husband Pat Flaherty and their sons Keegan, Connor and Caden; niece Mary and husband Pat Warner and their girls Emily, Katie and Madeline; nephew Bill and wife Alicia and their children Allie, Megan and Drew; sister-in-law Pat and husband Tom Grossman and their children, nephew Charlie and wife Pam and their children Annie and Zoe, niece Liz and husband Ben Smith; Extended close relatives in Italy; Many close friends and colleagues who hold her dear; And of course, all those doctors who are carrying on her legacy.
"Team Lili" wishes to thank Dr Nikcevich who cared for Lili with compassionate competence, he exemplified what she taught; the infusion nurses at the Cancer Center who made long days bearable with kindness and humor; the Hospice team; the Oncology floor and Medical ICU/Surgical ICU, and all the numerous friends and family who shared and supported this journey with their notes, presence, prayers and food. Lili appreciated you all so very much. A scholarship has been established in honor of Dr. Repesh's life and contributions to the medical community. Donations may be directed to Heather Heart (MMF Office) at the UMD School of Medicine, payable to Minnesota Medical Foundation- Dr. Lillian Repesh fund.
VISITATION: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, in Cathedral of our Lady of the Rosary. Funeral services will be held there at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24. A reception will follow at the UMD Kirby ballroom. The family will be hosting a celebration of Lil's life in the near future. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E. 2nd St. 218-727-3555.
Sign the guestbook (4 comments)
Comments posted on this page do not reflect opinions of Forum Communications Company. Forum Communications Company does not endorse and is not responsible for any statement, opinion, advice given or made. All replies are subject to approval and must follow Forum Communications Company guidelines concerning statements of libel, personal attacks or defamation of character. Replies in the "Talk About It" section that criticize a person by name may not be posted, unless that person is openly involved in a public issue. Comments written in all capital letters or bold print will not be considered for inclusion in the forum.