RUSSELL -- Anita Figueras, 67, born and raised in Greece, NY, died on June 27, 2019, at her home in Russell surrounded by members of her family.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, September 15 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3 1/2 East Main St., Canton.
Anita is survived by her husband, Robert C. Best Jr.; daughter, Dr. Ana Best (Michael); stepson, Robert C. Best III (Tami); father, John Figueras; step-mother, Joann Figueras; mother, Janet Hickman; brother, Richard (Nancy); sister, Julia (Peter); brother, Jack; three grandchildren; one great-grandchild, two nieces and two nephews.
Her father, John Figueras, passed away a week later at his home on Cape Cod.
Anita also leaves behind a multitude of friends and associates whose lives she touched in many ways.
Anita worked as the financial director and head of human resources at Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County. She was so respected for her outstanding work, that the agency dedicated its kitchen in her honor. As impressive as that is, it barely scratches the surface of who Anita is.
Rather than focusing solely on her own illness, Anita turned her attention to others, becoming an advocate for people with lung cancer. She blogged, raised money for research, made presentations, and spoke to the FDA's Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee about her experience with experimental medication.
And as one of the founders of EGFR Resisters, Anita helped ensure that people with EGFR, a specific type of mutation for some patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, would have a growing community to support them.
She was also key in starting Project PRIORITY with LUNGevity–the first-ever international real-world study to understand the treatment experience of EGFR-positive lung cancer patients.
As a result of her tireless efforts, Anita was named the 2017 Lung Hero by the American Lung Association. That honor did not go unnoticed by NYS Senator Joseph Griffo who introduced a resolution, adopted by the Senate, recognizing Anita's "remarkable tenacity, leadership, and strength in the face of this terrible illness."
Anita’s passions extended well beyond her work in the field of lung cancer.
She was a master knitter, spinning and dyeing wool, and creating top-of-the-line scarves, shawls, socks, and sweaters.
Anita blogged about knitting (and more)—under the name SciFiKnitter, where she posted photos and shared her own patterns. Her love of that avocation even prompted her to ask if she should bring knitting to her first Bruce Springsteen concert!
As her blogging name suggests, Anita had a fondness for reading, especially science fiction. Her favorite science fiction author? Terry Pratchett. Her favorite book? The Hobbit.
Perhaps Anita's oldest passion was music. An accomplished flute player, she was blessed with the opportunity to perform Gap Mangione’s "Diana in the Autumn Wind" with Chuck Mangione’s high school jazz band. She also played alongside guitarist-husband Robert and friends in the group String Folks, which was recorded as part of a New York State arts grant.
Anita put her heart and soul into her family, friends, advocacy work, job, knitting, reading, and music.
For that, she will be missed—and forever loved.