Elizabeth “Liz” Washer, 73, died Feb. 11, 2023, in the presence of her family. Her parents, James Frank Atkinson Sr. and Lucy (Hopper) Atkinson, were waiting for her. She will be forever loved, celebrated and missed by her husband of 50 years, Tony Washer; her children, John A and Kristina Washer and Sarah and Chad Beardslee; her five grandchildren, Insley and Liv Washer and Deacon, Josie and Toby Beardslee; her sister, Ruth Ann Bybee (Gayle), her brother James Frank Atkinson Jr. (Barb); and an entire extended family who adored her.
Liz was born in Mexico, Mo., March 26, 1949. As a child, she loved playing with neighborhood friends from sun-up to sun-down, creating clubs wherein she became the president, and practicing the piano in all her spare time. She was a 1967 graduate of Mexico High School, attended the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1968 and graduated in 1971 from Oklahoma Baptist University with a bachelor of science in music education. After teaching vocal music at Grove Elementary in Shawnee, Okla., (1971-1972) and Van Far Elementary (1973-1977), she settled as a vocal music teacher in the Mexico School District, where she retired in 2002. She was passionate about teaching vocal music to any student, despite his or her natural talent, and was mostly concerned about teaching children how to live and love well. A child who felt loved by her was the real music to her ears.
Her legacy of loving children will live on through the arts and community she helped build at Presser Arts Center. In 1987, while teaching school and raising a young family, she had a vision to salvage Presser Hall and called the first meeting with a handful of people. Today, Presser is a full-service arts center that serves an entire mid-Missouri region and sees approximately 22,000 people come through its doors annually. She served on the board of directors for 30 years and relentlessly helped raise support to keep the doors open. Her grandchildren are a part of her legacy at Presser as they enjoy the summer camps and opportunity to perform.
Liz and Tony married in October of 1972 and spent their entire marriage creating beauty. They built a home that was Heaven on earth, raised their two beautiful children, John A. and Sarah, and upon their retirement vacationed in 22 countries, celebrating the diversity of all God’s creation. Liz loved cooking comfort meals for her family and friends, tending meticulously to her flowers, creating the perfect environment for Monarch butterflies and other creatures, and making countless gallons of hummingbird food to keep the swarm at her kitchen window fed. She was an expert in noticing the beauty in life that is often overlooked and taught her family to do the same.
Liz gave all credit for her life’s blessings to the savior of her life, Jesus Christ. She attended Littleby Baptist, a small, country church with a big, loving heart. Her faith was not a religion, but a real relationship with a man, God incarnate, who walked the earth and gave His life to save hers. She started a women’s Bible study years ago, and her faith grew immensely as she met with other women and studied the Bible. The “Esther Girls” supported her to the end, even acting as pallbearers at her graveside service. Her greatest joy would be to know that others would find the same relationship with Christ through her example.
Wife, mother, granny, sister, aunt, friend, musician, seamstress, gardner, cook, teacher, colleague; she will be dearly missed by many, and we look forward to seeing her again one day.
Her life was celebrated on Saturday, March 4, 2023 at 2 p.m. at Presser Arts Center.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Presser Arts Center or Littleby Baptist Church. They may be sent in care of Arnold Funeral Home, 425 S. Jefferson St., Mexico, MO 65265.
Online condolences may be left at www.arnoldfh.com.