a lit memorial candle with a Sinai Memorial Chapel logo on it

Deaths for the week of July 9, 2021

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel

Yelizaveta (Lilja) Livshits

November 16, 1928 – July 5, 2021

Yelizaveta (Lilja) Livshits
Yelizaveta (Lilja) Livshits

Yelizaveta (Lilja) Livshits, our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away in her sleep on July 5, 2021.

Lilja was born on November 16, 1928 in Kiev, Ukraine to Sarah Ginzburg and Gersh Livshits, both medical doctors. She finished 5th grade before the start of the war. Gersh became a major (military doctor 2nd rank) and the head of the military hospital. He arranged for the extended family to escape Kiev by boat down the Dnepr river, but his hospital was surrounded and Gersh perished (MIA). The family evacuated to the Krasnodar region and again in 1942 to Tajikistan to evade the advancing Germans.

Lilja with her mom moved to Riga, Latvia after the war. Lilja graduated from high school #15 and medical school in Riga. Her first job as a doctor was in a nursery school and part-time in a clinical lab of the medical school. She married Gregoriy Shpaer (1927-2018) and they had two children Gene (Gera) Spier and Ilana Katsnelson.

Lilja defended her Ph.D. in Medicine in 1963, and became a Doctor of Science in 1977. She worked in the Riga Medical School and Latvian Central Childrens Hospital for more than 40 years, becoming a professor of pediatrics. Dr. Livshits trained a school of pediatric doctors in Latvia. Her research was in the field of pediatric gastroenterology and she was the most sought-after pediatrician in Riga.

Lilja retired in 1993 to emigrate to the US to be close to her children and four grandchildren; she lived in San Francisco. Lilja and Gregoriy invested a lot of time helping their grandchildren with school and afterschool activities. Lilja was very happy to see her seven great-grandchildren, whom she followed on her iPad. She stayed sharp till the end and was able to completely solve Russian crossword puzzles.

Lilja is survived by her children Gene (Inna) and Ilana; grandchildren Dan (Emily), Mark (Olga), Anna (Preston) and Alex (Habibah); as well as seven great grandchildren whom she loved so much.