Ocean Beach 07

Lois Gertrude (Votapek) Harshaw

April 16, 1936 ~ November 30, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old

Lois Harshaw Obituary

On November 30, 2023, surrounded by her daughters and with immense clarity and grace Lois Gertrude Harshaw passed away. 

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Ralph and Gertrude Votapek, Lois would fondly reminisce about her childhood and time spent on her mother’s family farm. 

Lois graduated from Milwaukee-Downer College where she was a member of the rowing team. An avid reader and lover of books, Lois went on to receive a master’s in library science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Beginning her career in the Philadelphia, PA public library system, Lois later joined the Library of Congress, retiring in 1998 after 34 years of service.

It was at the Library of Congress that Lois met and married her late husband George Harshaw Sr. Together they nurtured a family, leading a prosperous life in Washington DC, specifically in their dear SE Hillcrest Community.

Lois was the family glue. She orchestrated and cared for the details of every Harshaw holiday, social outing, appointment, and event. She was the master of lists and calendars. And never late for an appointment. Lois loved the familiar, including annual family trips to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Rehoboth Beach DE, and the Virginia mountains. She enjoyed cooking and baking,
especially holiday cookies for friends and family. Her famous brownies will forever be missed.

Lois was a lover of the arts, looking forward each season to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, local concerts, and craft fairs. A loyal Packers and WNBA fan, Lois was a season ticket holder to the Washington Mystics. Lois was also a quiet champion of many social justice missions, especially those dedicated to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Lois was a Lifeline Partnership board member and contributor to Special Olympics, the local food bank, and Maryland Public Television/Radio.

Lois, so loved by her family, is survived by three daughters, Elizabeth Harshaw, Emily Harshaw, and Anne Harshaw; one son-in-law, Abeyot Demissie; two granddaughters, Jacinda Tsegaye-Harshaw and Zora Smith, one grandson, Kyle Newman-Smith, a brother and sister-in-law, Ralph and Tina Votapek, a host of nieces, nephews, family, and friends. Lois is preceded in death by her husband, George Harshaw Sr., and son George Harshaw Jr. 


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Memorial Mass
December 12, 2023

11:00 AM
Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20020

Private Interment


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