Gladys Peña Falla, 84 of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina departed for Heaven on January 4th, 2022. Gladys, also known as Bella, was surrounded by family at Mt. Pleasant Manor as she died peacefully. Bella lived with Alzheimer’s disease for the last 10 years of her life, but her life was so much more.
Bella grew up in Colombia and traveled throughout Europe and the Americas. She married Luis Alberto in 1963 and they made their way to New York shortly thereafter. While in New York, Bella worked at the Bulova Watch company where she assembled Accutron watches —the watch famously pitched on the final season of “Mad Men.” It’s no wonder that the world’s most precise timepiece was made by the world’s most precise and punctual mother. Bella woke up at 6am everyday, kept a pristine home, and prepared delicious meals made with Adobo and love —always on time. Inspired by style icons of her day like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O, Bella’s outfits, hair and makeup were always exquisite.
Bella was funny and kind, and she made everyone feel special and loved. Music brought her joy, especially salsa —and she was a superb dancer. Bella loved the USA and was overjoyed when she became a US citizen. Bella later lived in Miami, Florida and in Charleston, South Carolina. She worked hard until she retired, never missing a day of work. You never heard Bella complain of being sick, tired or stressed out. Always stoic and upbeat until her later days, when asked “how are you” she would reply “divinamente” (divinely) with a smile. While in Charleston, Bella volunteered at the East Cooper Community Outreach center’s Clothing & Linen Closet where she amazed co-workers at her ability to perfectly fold a fitted bed sheet.
Her life was not without hardships. Bella lost several children before her daughter Vanessa was born. This burdened Bella greatly as she came from a big family and always wanted to have a big family of her own. In recent years, Bella forgot that she had a daughter. While painful at first, her family was delighted to find out that Vanessa was replaced by the memory of Bella’s older sister Dilia. They played along and took pleasure in Bella’s childlike spirit as they uncovered memories from Bella’s youth. Proof that what the mind forgets, the heart always remembers.
Bella will be dearly missed and always remembered by her daughter, Vanessa Adams Garsys; her son-in-law, Darius Garsys; and her three grandchildren, Tiernan, Amanda and Bianca; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Family and friends are invited to celebrate Bella’s beautiful legacy on Tuesday, January 18th at 3pm at the McAlister-Smith Funeral Home, 1520 Rifle Range Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. A Catholic funeral mass followed by internment will be held in Bogotá, Colombia at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Palmetto Paws Animal Rescue.