Since 2006, the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium has been dedicated to enriching the learning environment of Santa Fe College students and our community. We employ the latest educationally innovative technology in a unique immersive-learning environment for Santa Fe and University of Florida students, public and private school children, community groups, and the public of North Central Florida
Located on the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College, the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium was made possible by a generous donation of John Pla and his wife Amy Howard, on behalf of the Pla family, in recognition of his mother, Kika Silva Pla's, commitment to education and passion for social justice and civic engagement. Their generosity, along with additional support from a special federal appropriation arranged by Congressman Cliff Stearns, makes possible the only planetarium in North Central Florida.
Who is Kika Silva Pla?
Kika was born in Curico, Chile on November 16, 1920 to General Jose Miguel Silva Plazas and Maria Bertha Chereau de Silva. After Kika graduated from Santiago College, a girls' prep school in Chile, her family moved to Bogota, Colombia where she eventually became one of the first stewardesses for Avianca Airlines. She married Ramon Pratts Pla, whom she always called "Honey", at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on January 15, 1948. After living in Puerto Rico where their first child, Richard, was born, Kika and Ramon moved to and then expanded their family in Bogota. Kika was a very active fighter for a woman's right to vote in Colombia, which was finally granted in 1957. In 1965 Kika, Ramon and their five children moved to McLean, Virginia. While raising her family and working at the American Bankers Association (ABA) she became very active in Virginia Democratic politics and in the Hispanic Community of Northern Virginia.
After her retirement from the ABA and the subsequent death of Ramon (1984), Kika moved to Richmond, Virginia, enrolled at Sgt. Reynolds College, and graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management in 1987. She was one of the oldest graduates of the College at the time. Kika then moved to Hatteras, North Carolina to help her daughter Belinda with her business and especially to help raise her third grandchild, Christina. While in Hatteras she had many friends, was very active with the bird club, and enjoyed gardening, astronomy and exercise classes. Kika lived in Hatteras until 1997 when she decided to move to Gainesville, Florida to be with her sons Richard and John. Two years later her daughter Birdie's family moved to Gainesville as well. In 2005, her family provided a generous donation to Santa Fe College and in 2006 the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College was dedicated on her behalf.
Kika's zeal for life was amazing. She worked very hard to achieve many great things and lifted others to do so as well. She had a great personality, her most prevalent trait being her honesty. She inspired her children to work hard, to be politically involved and to try to make a difference in the world. She loved Gainesville especially Kanapaha Gardens, her fish pond, and her family. Kika was an avid naturalist, bird watcher, gardener, and advocate.
Maria Bertha "Kika" Silva Pla, 89, of Gainesville, passed away on Monday, June 28, 2010. She was in the hands of the amazing and caring staff at the E.T. York Haven Hospice Center.
Her family will always carry Mama Kika's motto, always the General's daughter: Adelante, Soldado Valiente! Forward, Valiant Soldier!
- excerpt originally published in The Gainesville Sun from July 4 to July 5, 2010
We wish to thank the following Sponsors for their generous donations and/or grants which made the listed acquisitions possible.
Venture Realty of North Florida
- Planetarium Show: "Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity"
- Planetarium Show: "Zula Patrol: Under the Weather"
- MUSIC 360 Show: "Sounds of the Underground"
- Telescope: Meade 12" LX200 and accessories
- Telescope: 18" Newtonian reflector and accessories
For information about becoming a Planetarium Sponsor, please contact the Planetarium Coordinator at 352-395-5381.
Kika Silva Pla Planetarium Staff are Proud Members of the Southeastern Planetarium Association