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Published: Saturday, 7/5/2008

Ex-State Dept. worker vied for Olympics in swimming

Elizabeth M. Birdsong Lishewski, 77, a linguist, stenographer, and translator for the U.S. State Department and Radio Free Europe before she moved from Washington to Sylvania Township, where she lived for five decades, died Wednesday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

She died of natural causes, family members said.

Born in Washington, she was raised by the Sisters of Charity.

"My grandmother worked for Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, and she was tied up full time with that position," Mrs. Lishewski's son, Forrest, said about the Sisters of Charity's role in his mother's upbringing.

Mrs. Lishewski's mother, Natalia, was born in Guatemala.

Known as Birdie or Betty, Mrs. Lishewski had fond memories of attending the presidential inaugural parades in Washington during the 1950s.

During her school years, she was captain of the swim, tennis, and basketball teams, and at one point was a contender for the Olympics in swimming.

She had a zest for those sports, but later in life, as the mother of four sons, football and wrestling were her favorites. She was a staunch supporter of Coach Woody Hayes and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Her son, Richard, played football for OSU from 1984 to 1988.

"She was at all the games," said Forrest Lishewski.

During her working years with the Foreign Service, the State Department, and Radio Free Europe, her love of the English language took root and bloomed, and she relished the many different meanings of words.

Mrs. Lishewski was known for her favorite phrases and sayings, and she would repeat them in her daily speeches to her six children. "She had some good phrases," Forrest Lishewski said.

"Everyone has their own proclivities," she would say. Or "enough is sufficient, but too much is superfluous."

She met her husband-to-be, Edward Lishewski, when they both attended an event at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, said their son, Richard.

"It was love at first sight," said Forrest Lishewski.

After they were married, the couple lived in New York until Mr. Lishewski took a job as the treasurer and controller for Moore Ford Sales Inc. in Toledo. They moved to Sylvania Township, where they lived for about 50 years, Forrest Lishewski said.

Mrs. Lishewski and her husband were married 55 years. He died April 9.

"She was very well liked," Forrest Lishewski said. "She was very spiritual, very religious, and very sports-minded and politically inclined."

Mrs. Lishewski was active in Christ the King Church and was involved with Notre Dame Academy and St. Francis de Sales High, which her children attended.

When she was younger, she often played tennis and was a bowler with the West End Bowlerettes. She also was an avid reader.

Surviving are her sons, Marc, Louis Michael, Forrest, and Richard; daughters, Missy Lishewski and Jennifer Cascella, and 10 grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Services will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Christ the King Church, where a reception will follow.

The family suggests that any tributes be made to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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