Elizabeth Schwarting, 89, aided refugees

April 08, 2002|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Elizabeth Kopanyi Schwarting, a Hungarian immigrant who sent refugees hundreds of shirts and other clothing with hand-embroidered emblems of love, died of a heart arrhythmia Wednesday at her Cockeysville home. She was eight days shy of her 90th birthday.

Elizabeth Kopanyi arrived at Ellis Island with her family shortly after World War I. She recalled the rigorous physical examinations that immigrants were forced to undergo. She and her relatives were let through, but a boy from Eastern Europe who traveled on the same boat was not so lucky.

From that experience she gained a passion for helping refugees, said her daughter Gretchen Edwards of Baltimore.

For years, Mrs. Schwarting watched for sales and bought clothes -- mostly T-shirts -- to send to post-World War II immigrants, Greek refugees in Macedonia and others forced to leave their homelands.

Before she shipped her care packages, Mrs. Schwarting embroidered a red heart and pastel flowers on each article of clothing.

An avid traveler, she visited relatives in Hungary regularly and faithfully attended local family events, from graduations to plays.

"If I'm above ground, I'll be there," she often told her family.

Mrs. Schwarting was an excellent cook who invented recipes and could replicate meals by tasting the originals. "She really did cakes that were extraordinary, things you've never had before and will never have since," said Mrs. Edwards.

Her husband, Albert Schwarting, whom she married in 1943, died in a car accident in 1976 with their son Richard.

Services were held yesterday at Havenwood Presbyterian Church in Timonium, where she was a longtime member.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Schwarting is survived by a sister, Anna Jones of Fredericksburg, Va.; a son, Konrad Schwarting of Lutherville; two other daughters, Erika Schwarting of Cockeysville and Yolanda Dudley of Alexandria, Va.; nine grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

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