Ileana Estela Clavijo

May 28, 1947 - November 5, 2023
Ileana Estela Clavijo

Memorial Gifts & Donations

Ileana Estela Clavijo died on November 5, 2023 in Wilmington, NC at Novant Regional Medical Center. She was born in Havana, Cuba on May 28, 1947 to Oswald and Quecha Clavijo.

When she was 12, she left Cuba with her parents, emigrating to the US she studied at Barry University and Florida Atlantic University before earning her PhD in Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico. She joined the Department of Biology and Marine Biology at UNCW in 1986, and was an Associate Professor of Marine Biology until 2012. She was a kind, caring, yet challenging professor and invested herself in her students’ progress. She has kept up with many former students over the years.

She is survived by special cousins, Anne Kala (Greg) of Atlanta, GA and Helen Beaumont (Michael) of San Diego, CA., who were with her at her death, more cousins in Miami, friends and former colleagues, and her beloved companion “Cupcake” , a rescue dog from Adopt and Angel.

Memorials can be made to the American Kidney Fund, UNCW Department of Biology and Marine Biology, or Adopt an Angel.

Funeral plans are incomplete.

In the meantime, please join us in expressing your condolences and sharing your cherished memories by visiting our website

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, located at 1535 South 14th Street, Wilmington, NC 28403. The funeral home can be reached at 910-791-9099.

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  • November 22, 2023
    Elizabeth Theresa Celia says:
    This news took me by surprise, since I feel like we were just talking about clownfish. Let me back up a bit here. I was honored to be one of her grad students at UNCW, and to have had the opportunity to assist her in her lab working with her multitude of clownfish species. Dr. Clavijo was so engaging in class, caring, compassionate, and very passionate about fish, which fueled the fire in my own passion for fish and marine life. I was delighted one semester to have received my first orange ocellaris clown pair from her as a gift for helping her, which I still have in my reef tank. My interest in breeding clownfish started while working in her lab. After she retired, we still remained in contact. Within the last two or three years, she commented on and aided me with feedback on my clownfish breeding projects. I was overwhelmed with joy when recently she told me that I had created a fantastic culture tank for my baby black ocellaris clowns. I still have those babies; all 30 or more, which are actually now a year in a half years old, and some little ones just out of the hatchery. I look at them all thinking about Dr. Clavijo, and how much she enjoyed seeing their pics and videos as they were growing. I will truly miss her.

  • November 12, 2023
    Laura I. Powell lit a candle:
    Lit since November 12, 2023 at 11:32:55 AM

  • November 12, 2023
    Laura I. Powell lit a candle:
    Lit since November 12, 2023 at 11:32:21 AM

  • November 12, 2023
    Laura I. Powell says:
    I am sad to hear of Ileana's passing. My mother worked with her for years at UNCW Biology Dept. She was very kind and well-liked by the staff there. Though my mother was a secretary, she saw her, and they were friends. She will be truly missed.

  • November 08, 2023
    Alina Szmant says:
    I am so sad at learning of Ileana's passing. She was a great colleague with whom I shared exciting collaborations while working on parrot fish ecology in Hydrolab back in the 1980s. During covid we lost touch and I am so regretful that I didn't have a chance to say goodbye and let her know how much I appreciated her.