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Montessori head nurtured young sailors

Lynnette Rzymek Ethington, 1948-2012

Lynnette Rzymek Ethington, a teacher and the head of a Montessori school who nurtured children throughout her life, from siblings to students to junior sailors, died of an apparent heart attack June 8 in her Safety Harbor, Fla., home. She was 63.

She and her then-husband, Lon, moved from Point Place to Florida in 1999, after he retired, her sister Roberta said.

Ms. Ethington in the 1990s ran Montessori Old West End in St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Collingwood Boulevard. As a teacher, she was intrigued with the educational philosophy formed decades before by Maria Montessori, and she took special classes to be certified in the method. Her school included prekindergarten through primary grades.

"She was very resourceful," her sister said. "Seeing the kids excel and actually learn, that's when she really felt accomplishment."

Ms. Ethington was the oldest of five children and often a leader in that role.

"She taught me to read," her sister said. "She taught me my first words and how to recognize them on the page. [She] was so often the caretaker and the disciplinarian."

As for a career in education, "I look back and think, 'That was her calling,' " her sister said.

She taught at St. Adalbert School and Spring School. She liked to draw and create murals and taught classes for young artists at the Toledo Museum of Art.

When a program to teach young sailors was on the wane at North Cape Yacht Club in LaSalle, Mich., where she and her former husband were members, she helped give it a boost.

"She pretty much set the table to get it growing and back again," North Cape Commodore Ken Kania, Jr., said. "She was the perfect boat mom: 'Make sure you're dressed. Make sure you're fed. Make sure you come out of the rain.' We were all her kids, and it was like having an adopted mom. She always had a kind word."

She was born Sept. 6, 1948, to Camille and Eugene Rzymek. She was a 1966 graduate of Central Catholic High School. She had bachelor's and master's degrees in education from the University of Toledo. She worked for a time in the office at Libbey Glass in North Toledo, where her mother was a company nurse.

In Florida, she taught at the Belleair Montessori Academy and did accounting work at a Home Depot store.

She was a volunteer for the state's guardian ad litem program and helped children who were abused or neglected. She made home visits and recommended to judges whether a child was better off with a relative than a parent.

"She had many positive outcomes," her sister said. "She was so happy it turned out that way, and so often it was because of her home visits and reports."

She was a former member of St. John the Baptist Church in Toledo. She was a member of Espiritu Santo Church in Safety Harbor, Fla.

Surviving are her daughters Abigail Ethington and Allison Ethington Rensberger; brothers Mickey and Fred Rzymek; sisters Roberta Malone and Kathleen Porter, and stepmother Jeanne Rzymek.

Memorial services are pending in Florida.

The family suggests tributes to the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Foundation.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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