By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Shirley Nischwitz of Sylvania, a receptionist whose smiling face greeted thousands during her career at the Jewish Community Center of Toledo, died yesterday in Toledo Hospital.
She was 59 and had been hospitalized with liver failure for about three weeks, family members said.
Born and reared in Toledo, Mrs. Nischwitz specialized in making people around her comfortable.
“She didn’t really have any hobbies, besides people,” said her son, Keith Silvernail. “She didn’t care about herself, but always wanted to know how you were doing.”
As a young wife raising three sons in Sylvania, Mrs. Nischwitz took on the added responsibility of watching other children in their neighborhood during the day. On some days, up to 14 children between the ages of 3 and 10 roamed the house, Mr. Silvernail said.
Once the children were grown, she and her husband loved to hop in the family car and drive for hours, sometimes taking an impromptu weekend in some other city, her son said.
She loved palm trees, but never saw one in person until her eldest son, Charles Silvernail, took her to Florida.
The family has a photo of Mrs. Nischwitz hugging a palm tree on the beach.
By the time her children had children of their own, she spent more time playing with her grandchildren. They called her “Nonnie;” she regularly asked them to let her “chew their faces,” her term for a particularly aggressive kiss.
When the Jewish Community Center of Toledo opened in Sylvania in 1976, she was hired as the lobby receptionist – a job she kept until her illness.
“She really liked to make people smile when they came in,” her son Keith said. “She enjoyed her job.”
Since her hospitalization three weeks ago, she had received more than 100 get-well cards from community center members.
Surviving are her husband, Thomas; sons, David, Keith, and Charles; mother, Rose Blazey; stepfather, Bernard Blazey; brother, Edward Jacobs; stepdaughters, Kelly Mettler and Kim Nischwitz, and six grandchildren.
A Scripture service will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Reeb Funeral Home, Sylvania, where the body will be after 1 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Joseph Catholic Church, Sylvania.
The family requests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.