Silvia M. Lee, 1947-2013

Accountant was a friendly guide for taxes


Silvia M. Lee, who navigated the details of tax accountancy with aplomb, died March 10 in St. Luke’s Hospital, Maumee. She was 65.

Mrs. Lee of Perrysburg Township had lung problems the last 10 years, her husband, Richard, said.

For much of the last four decades, she had a tax accounting practice, and clients relied on her for tax preparation and guidance year after year.

“She was stubborn. She would tell the client, ‘You can’t do that. It’s against the law,’ ” her husband said. “Or, ‘Let’s do this, because you’re missing something. This would be to your advantage.’ She was a huge personality.”

Early in her career, she worked for Milton F. “Tony” Knight, through several of his business ventures and when he was a law student.

“She was a great help and a great friend,” Mr. Knight said. “She was a detailed person, very positive. She was always good at handling people.”

She worked her way through the University of Toledo as a supermarket cashier, reinforcing a penchant for precision — and numbers.

“It was instilled in her by her mother and grandmother. They knew that education was the key to everything,” her husband said.

Mrs. Lee majored in accounting and received a bachelor of business administration degree.

After her employment with Mr. Knight, she worked for the certified public accounting practice of Richard Bernstein and for Vince Nathan in his law practice. She later was in finance at one of Toledo’s oldest law firms, Eastman & Smith.

She was born Aug. 19, 1947, in Augsburg, Germany. She never met her father, a U.S. soldier. She was 2½ when she and her mother, Lima Cline, came to Toledo, where her grandmother Katrine Barevics, an immigrant from Russia, had found a sponsor and settled.

At home, the little girl and the two women spoke Russian and Latvian and some German. At McKinley Elementary School, “she starts learning English. She brings it home to Grandma and Mama, and she helps them,” her husband said. “She was excited to teach her grandmother and mother.”

Both became citizens.

Mrs. Lee was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School.

In the 1970s, she and her mother returned to Germany and Latvia, where her mother had lived. She also traveled the world with her husband, who was a vice president of business development with the Lathrop Co. She was especially taken with Japan. Honda was a longstanding client of the firm, and Mrs. Lee accompanied her husband on several visits there — and made friends, to whom they opened their Perrysburg Township home.

“When you met her, within five minutes if you didn’t feel you knew her for a long time, you wished you would have,” her husband said. “She made everybody feel part of the family.”

Several years ago, when she and her husband lived on East River Road in Perrysburg Township, he was active in a neighborhood group to fend off annexation by the city of Perrysburg.

She was an animal lover and adopted dogs in need of rescue.

“She loved them with all her heart,” her husband said.

Surviving are her husband, Richard Lee, whom she married Oct. 31, 1974; stepsons Thomas and Kenneth Lee; stepdaughter, Amy Lee; a granddaughter, and a great-granddaughter.

At Mrs. Lee’s request, her body was donated to the University of Michigan’s anatomical program.

The family suggests tributes to Save-A-Pet; the Toledo Area Humane Society; the Sophia Center at Sylvania Franciscan Village, or Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo.

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