Lilla Farris attended North Yarmouth Academy from 1902-1904, attended Castine Normal School in the fall term of 1906 and graduated from Warren High School. During the summer of 1904 she worked at the Fabyan House, a grand hotel in the White Mountains of New Hampshire She later taught at Warren and was teaching at Isle au Haut in 1908.
In 1909 she went to Boston to attend nursing school and later graduated from the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing. After graduation she was a district nurse in the Boston area until World War I.
During World War I she served with the U.S. Army Nurses Corps in France from August 1918 to May 1919.
After the war she worked as a private nurse in California for the movie star Marie Dressler and the mother of Gerald Warner. While working as a private nurse she went on an around the world tour aboard a cruise ship.