Cecilia Audelle Noss was born May 26, 1940, the daughter of Jacob Asa Arnold and Audelle Marie Lee in Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA. Her parents moved to Cedar Rapids for her father’s job during the war years. As big sister, she often took care of younger brothers John Philip and Mark Lee. After Mark was born, when her mother worked on night crews, Cecilia took on home duties including cooking evening meals. In spite of very limited means, her parents emphasized education. They encouraged her musical talent by providing music lessons. They bought her a quality viola that she brought with her through life, playing in orchestras from the Iowa Southeast Symphony Orchestra in her teen years to amateur orchestras in Cameroon, Kenya, and England in later years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and a high school teaching certificate at the State University of Iowa in 1962. A life-long learner, she completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Vermont College in 1989.
After graduating from college, Cecilia inquired of the Presbyterian Church, of which she was a member, about serving as a teacher in India, but they had no missionary activity in India at the time. She approached the Methodist Church, but they would not employ a Presbyterian. She then turned to the United States Foreign Service in Washington DC. She was on track to be assigned to a US embassy in an African nation, when her plans were interrupted by Philip Andrew Noss, whom she had met at Christus House, a lay theological community, while at the University of Iowa. She married him in 1963 and shared a life of service with him for 58 years.
Four children were born into the family: Andrew (Lauren Samuels), Haldor (Rebecca Paine Noss), Darcy (Peter Molnár), and Kathleen (Tyler Van Buren), and nine grandchildren, Wesley, Monika, Jesse, Lukáš, Maja, Caleb, Charmian, Jay, and Asa.
Cecilia had studied a little French in college, but when she accompanied her husband to Africa for work in Bible translation and literacy, she was obliged to learn the local African language, which she did by participating in the lives of village women, especially through the children, hers and theirs. Languages played an important role in her teaching: arts and crafts for missionary children from Norway and the US; Cameroonian school children reading and writing stories in their own language; Kenyan street children going from the jargon of the streets to Swahili, the national language, and to English; university students practicing creative writing in English for their professions in Nigeria; and the very basics of reading for women in villages in Cameroon so that they could sing from the church songbook and read Scripture texts in Gbaya.
When her husband retired in 2005, the couple moved to Gainesville, which was much warmer than the weather of Cecilia’s home state of Iowa. She especially appreciated and enjoyed the rich cultural, academic, and religious setting of the Gainesville community. With her husband, she joined University Lutheran Church and made it her home until November 27th, 2022 when she passed away at the age of 82. She is fondly remembered by family and friends around the world as an authentically kind and caring person who was not afraid to stand by her convictions.
Funeral service at University Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1826 W. University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32603. Viewing Saturday December 3rd at 10:00, service at 11:00, with a burial to follow at Evergreen Cemetery at 2:00 PM.
Memorial gifts – those who wish to make a memorial gift, in lieu of flowers, please consider giving to University Evangelical Lutheran Church https://www.ulcgainesville.com, to Haven Hospice, 4200 NW 90th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32606, https://beyourhaven.org/donate, or to a charity of your choice.
Arrangements in the care of Milam Funeral Home 311 S. Main Street, Gainesville, Fl 32601. 352-376-5361.