October 21, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria civic figure passes away

ELYRIA — A well-known Elyria resident who was the first woman to serve on Elyria’s City Council died Saturday at the age of 91 after a two-year battle with failing health.

Friends and family remember Kathleen “Kay” Lysaght as an active woman who was involved in the community, right up until a year before her death.

A friend and former co-worker of Lysaght’s, Karen Mobert, remembered visiting Lysaght in the hospital and despite her bout with several illnesses, Lysaght was all business.

“Every time I would visit her at the hospital or in assisted living, she would talk to me about real estate,” she said, laughing.

Mobert worked as a real estate agent with Lysaght at several agencies, including Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. Lysaght worked at Howard Hanna at the age of 90 until last year.

“She was one of the oldest Realtors in our community,” Mobert said, adding that about a month ago, Lysaght helped her with a referral.

It was Lysaght’s passionate nature that led to all of her accomplishments, said friends and family members.

Born in 1921 in Melton Mowbray, England, Lysaght emigrated to Long Island, N.Y., with her family at age 2, eventually settling in Elyria after her father’s unexpected death at the age of 49.

Lysaght’s daughter, Patricia Casgar, said her mother had a “Long Island accent” with an Irish twang. It may have sounded strange to some, Casgar said, but her mother was more accepting of others because of her background.

“She had a tremendous amount of respect for all people. She especially had a soft spot for the elderly. I think that’s because she lost her parents so young,” she said.

Casgar said her mother would take the family to visit senior homes as part of her volunteer work. During her lifetime, Lysaght was heavily involved in the community, receiving an honor from the Elyria Chamber of Commerce for Meritorious Service to the Community and a Certificate of Appreciation of Service from the Lorain County commissioners. She was also entered into the Blue Book of Distinguished Women in Ohio.

Lysaght graduated in 1939 from Elyria High School, where she met her husband, Richard H. Lysaght. The two married in Virginia before he shipped out with the Navy in 1943.

Kay Lysaght attended Wilcox Business School in Cleveland, working as a secretary at Thew Shovel in Lorain after graduation. When her husband returned from the war, she worked as a bookkeeper at Lysaght Builders, a company he founded.

At age 22, Lysaght joined the Elyria Junior Women’s Club, where she served as president. She also served as president of the Elyria Senior Women’s Club, receiving honors as Professional of the Year by the Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs.

One of her biggest accomplishments was her election to Elyria City Council. She was the first woman to serve on Council, said Mary Keys, wife of then-mayor of Elyria, Grant Keys.

Keys said Lysaght was “very energetic and friendly” as a councilwoman. She was easy to work with, she said, and accomplished much for the city.

After serving three terms, Lysaght decided to focus on her five children and on civic efforts. Casgar remembers her mother being very organized and juggling home life and her work in the community, something that inspired Casgar was inspired.

“She always had a strong sense of the Catholic faith and believed that you had to give back,” she said.

Casgar said her mother was well-known in the community, which was sometimes problematic to her children.

“My mom knew everyone at the Police Department,” she said. “We wouldn’t even think about speeding, because my mom would get a call from the Police Department.”

Casgar said Lysaght had a good sense of humor, always laughing. Even up until her death, after several setbacks, she remained in good spirits.

“She was not a storyteller, but she was the best audience you could ever have,” she said.

Mobert remembers Lysaght’s good humor as well. Even though the two were 30 years apart in age, Mobert considered Lysaght a good friend.

“I didn’t really look at her as being a mother or grandmother,” Mobert said. “I looked at her as my friend. … I am going to miss her so much. … It’s a loss to the entire community.”

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.