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Grant administrator, social worker had heart for people

Social worker was editor’s mother

Staff writer

When the Ford Foundation chose to give Marion County a $26,500 grant to start a senior citizens pilot program, county commissioners hired Elisabeth Reznicek to work on the project.

Susan Berg, managing editor of the Marion County Record, Hillsboro Star-Journal, and Peabody Gazette-Bulletin, is her daughter. She was 3 years old at the time.

Reznicek grew up in Kansas City, Mo. She graduated in 1939 from Teacher’s College School District of Kansas City, Mo., with a bachelor of science in education and a major in English.

A child of adoption herself, Elisabeth Redford worked in adoptions at Wichita Children’s Guidance Center when she met Cyril Reznicek of Lost Springs at a dance at the Cotillion. He was the seventh of 12 children and was required to work inside a lot, where he learned how to cook and clean.

The couple eventually married. Elisabeth was 35 and Cyril was 38. They lived on a farm near Lost Springs and had three daughters — Mary Jo, Judy, and Susan.

“My mother was a city girl through and through and got thrown out into the middle of nowhere on the family farm,” Berg said. “She was domestically challenged and learned a lot of homemaking skills from my dad.”

Elisabeth was a stay-at-home mom until 1958 when she worked at the welfare office in Marion. She was hired in 1960 by the county as an accredited social worker to direct the development of the county senior citizen organization. She was grandfathered-in by the State of Kansas before state licensing was required for social workers.

The family moved to Marion in 1958 when Cyril had injured his back and could no longer do farm work.

In 1963, the family moved to Ottawa, where Elisabeth worked for the welfare department and helped organize the Franklin County Association of Mentally Retarded Persons, as it was then known.

Reznicek worked the last decade of her career at Osawatomie State Hospital as a social worker supervisor.

According to Berg, her mother sometimes brought patients home for visits and helped other patients make bus connections for trips to and from their homes.

“My mother always was an advocate at heart,” Berg said. “She was an advocate for the underdog.”

She said Cyril felt the same and was proud of his wife’s work.

“He was grateful that she could provide for the family in such a meaningful way,” Berg said.

Elisabeth was forced to retire at age 64 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She died of cancer in 1988 at the age of 71.

Last modified Oct. 27, 2010

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