MARY FRANCES LIKAR “Mitzi” Born April 13, 1949 in Akron, Ohio, died peacefully and surrounded by her family on January 10, 2017 after a battle with cancer.
Mitzi grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, OH and was a 30-year resident of Bethesda, MD. A renaissance woman, she was deeply passionate about many things including baseball, music, literature, theater and opera, walking, and yoga. She was an avid Washington Nationals fan, having held season tickets since their first opening day in 2005. She had a lifelong love of reading, dancing, music, playing the piano and guitar, and singing. Most recently she participated in Encore Chorale and Encore Rocks. Mitzi loved languages and spoke French and Spanish fluently. She was also proficient in Hungarian, Slovenian, Portuguese, and Russian.
Despite all these passions, she will be most remembered for her kindness, generosity, and her desire to help others. It was this desire that led her to join the Peace Corps after college, pursue a career in the Foreign Service, mentor Foreign Service Officers after her retirement, and teach yoga with a focus on reaching those who were intimidated by it, as well as volunteering at a local retirement home. A 15-year breast cancer survivor, she raised money for research and participated in a variety of Breast Cancer Walks, including two Avon 39-mile walks and a Komen 60-mile walk.
She was the loving and proud mother of Michelle Cruz Peverley (Evan) of Boston, MA and Marisa Likar Cruz-Glaudemans (David) of Washington, DC, her daughters by Danilo Cruz-DePaula, and grandmother of Pierce Cruz Peverley and James Carlos Cruz-Glaudemans. She was a dear sister to Linda J. Likar (Robert Clement-Jones) and Amy L. Likar (Jack Paulus) and a much beloved aunt to Alexandra Victoria Likar Clement-Jones, Hannah Marie Likar Paulus, and Joshua Frank Likar Paulus. She was predeceased by her parents, Fran and Frank Likar and her rescue dog, Mandi.
Mitzi graduated from Kent State University summa cum laude and attended with a full scholarship from Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. After four years in the Peace Corps in Cote d’Ivoire, she received her MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Quito, Ecuador researching women in agriculture. In 1980, she began a 30-year career with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as a program officer, private sector development officer and then deputy chief of mission with postings in Peru, Honduras, Hungary, and Slovenia. Other USAID travel took her to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sub-Saharan Africa. In 1989, she earned an MS in Management as part of Stanford University’s Sloane Program.