In Memorium: Foothill Transit's Linda Somilleda Succumbs to Rare Illness

Linda Somilleda, 52, director of customer service and operations and Foothill Transit in West Covina, Calif., 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.