Elizabeth France Lewis passed away on Jan. 27, 2014, at the age of 90. Born in Toledo, Ohio, on Feb. 8, 1923, Elizabeth was daughter of Ethel Humphreys France and Enoch Harrie France and sister to Helen Margaret Foster, Florence Juliet France, and Louise France Werbe.

Though she was born in Toledo, her family traced its roots to the mid-19th century settlers of Van Wert: the McCoys, Gillilands, Frances, and Humphreys. Her maternal grandfather, John J. Humphreys, started the first dry goods store in Van Wert in the late 1880s, and her father, grandfather and great-grandfather headed the France Stone Quarries, which had one of its larger quarries in nearby Middle Point from 1888 to 1946 as well as other operations in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

Elizabeth graduated from the Maumee Valley Country Day School in 1940 and from Smith College in 1944. After college, Elizabeth worked in New York City before returning to Toledo and marrying Howard Lewis Jr. in 1948. The couple moved to Van Wert in 1950 where they made their home for the remainder of their lives. They had two sons. Howard ran the Delphos Quarry until his death in 1981.


Elizabeth became an avid swimmer as a means to recover from polio. The family would spend many winters in Cuba, Mexico, and Hawaii where Elizabeth and Howard homeschooled their sons and she would take long daily ocean swims. In the 1960s she taught high school English in Ohio City and Celina. She insisted on proper grammar and well-spoken English up until her final days.

Elizabeth was a voracious reader of history and English literature. She travelled with her family to Iran, Japan, India, Turkey, Africa and many parts of Europe, always with the purpose of appreciating different cultures. She was an early and long time supporter of environmental causes and animal rights, and never was without several animals under her care. Elizabeth is survived by her two sons and their wives: Howard Lewis, III and Phillipa Cooley Lewis and Harrie (Hal) France Lewis and Judith Kemper Lewis; her three grandchildren: Christina Lewis Reiter, Tracy Kemper Lewis, and Scott Kemper Lewis; and her two great-grandchildren: Evianna Lewis Reiter and Noah Lewis Reiter.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that any tributes be in the form of donations to the Van Wert Animal Protective League, PO Box 321, Van Wert, Ohio 45891. Arrangements by Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert, Ohio.