In Memoriam: Davida Lettiere

September 01, 2013

A strong will to help launched the influential ABCs.

Davida LettiereThe Associates for Breast and Prostate Cancer Studies (ABCs) has long supported efforts to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast and prostate cancer. Its long partnership with the John Wayne Cancer Institute was fostered by the leadership of Davida Lettiere who passed away in September.

“Davida’s life was never about herself,” says ABCs president Gloria Gebbia. “It was always about others. Volunteering gave her a great sense of satisfaction in helping others.”

Davida was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of three children, but lived much of her adult life in Los Angeles. She was married for 53 years to husband Donald and had two children: David and Debi. She was also the proud grandmother of four.

With a strong desire to serve others, she helped found the ABCs and immersed herself in the details of volunteer work, planning events with cheerfulness and optimism. Over the years, members of the ABCs have raised more than $14 million to support the Institute’s research. Hugely successful events chaired by Davida have drawn such entertainers as Diana Ross, Michael McDonald and Lionel Richie.

“For more than 23 years, Davida was a driving force in supporting innovative cancer research at the Institute through the ABCs,” shared Patrick Wayne, chairman of the board of directors. “The Institute has lost a dear friend to an illness we are all desperately trying to eradicate. Davida’s courage, leadership and philanthropic spirit will continue to inspire us in our mission, and her legacy will forever be with us.”

She showed deep compassion for others. “She opened her hands to the needy and extended her hands to the poor,” Gloria says. “She always spoke with wisdom and strength, and her tongue was guided by kindness.”

Although diagnosed with cancer three years ago, Davida did not back away from her goals for the ABCs. Nothing stopped her. “Going to food tastings for the Gala, invitations, auction houses, the decorations. She worked harder and harder,” Gloria says. “Her will to help raise money to find a cure was stronger than ever.”

Friends praised Davida for her generosity and her yearning to be of service to others.

Says Gloria: “When you speak of a woman of valor, that describes Davida.”