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Obituary for Elizabeth (Liz) Block Wing


Elizabeth (Liz) Block Wing, a beloved wife, mother, and friend who lived in La Crosse for nearly 50 years, died at home on January 30, 2019. She was 87. A celebration of her life is planned for 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, in the community room at Riverplace Apartments, One Riverplace Drive, LaCrosse. Liz was born in New York City and raised in Manhasset, Long Island. Her mother, Bernice FitzGibbon Block, was a farm girl from Wisconsin who became a successful advertising copywriter in New York City. Her father, Herman Block, was a son of German immigrants who worked his way through Columbia Law School. She had one brother, Peter. Although Liz attended schools in New York, she got to know Wisconsin well as a child because she visited her relatives on the FitzGibbon family farm in Waunakee every summer. Liz was a good student who developed a strong interest in books, in the craft of writing, and in the art of persuasion. Two of her stories were published in Seventeen magazine. Liz became interested in politics at a young age. Her father ran as a Democrat for a legislative seat on Long Island and took Liz with him to many of his campaign appearances. "I loved hearing the crowd cheer for my father," Liz recalled. "I was devastated when he lost." Later her father explained that Democrats never won in that district but it was important for someone to represent the Democratic party. Liz attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. There she became co-editor of the college newspaper, the Sophian. Perhaps the highlight of her college journalism career was interviewing Sen. Adlai Stevenson when his presidential campaign train came through town. After graduating from Smith in 1953, Liz went to Milwaukee, where she was hired as a reporter on the Milwaukee Journal. Liz got to know a crew of young people who wanted to have some fun while they tried to make the world a better place. One member of the group was Merrick (Rick) Stanton Wing, the newspaper's City Hall reporter (and a La Crosse native). Liz and Rick fell in love, and they married in 1954. A few years later, Rick Wing took a job as an aide to Congressman Henry Reuss and moved his family to Bethesda, Md. Subsequently the family moved to Hamden, Conn.; and then to Denver, Colo. In Hamden, Liz worked as a researcher for a book on gold rush medicine (Gold Fever by George Groh). In Denver, she became active again in Democratic causes and campaigns. In 1967 Liz was hired by the Colorado House of Representatives to serve as Information and Finance Officer -- a job she held for two years. In 1969, the Wing family moved to Rick's hometown of La Crosse. There Liz and Rick found a group of friends who enjoyed each other's company through the decades. They were active in the community as they raised their four children. One of their favorite evenings out as a couple was listening to Dixieland jazz performed by the Rev. Al Townsend. (Rick would bring his clarinet and play along.) Liz operated her own advertising and public relations agency for several years and worked as a free-lance writer for newspapers and magazines. She became a marketing executive, first for Home Savings and then for First Financial Savings and Loan in La Crosse and in Stevens Point. Liz was an avid tennis player and was known for her delicious "wingding" pastries. After retirement and her husband's death in 2002, Liz enjoyed taking long walks in the marsh, reading and spending time with her fellow members of Bookfellows, attending concerts by the La Crosse Chamber Chorale, and getting together with family members. She served on the boards of the Chamber Chorale, the local chapter of AAUW, radio station WLSU, and the Self-Sufficiency Program at UW-La Crosse. She was a member of the La Crosse Historical Society, the La Crosse Friends of the Library, the La Crosse County Democratic Party, and the Women's Fund of Greater La Crosse. She belonged to many national and international organizations supporting human rights and protecting animals, nature, and open space. In the final years of her life, she was cared for by her youngest daughter, Victoria. Liz is survived by four children, Victoria Wing of La Crosse; Elizabeth "Betsy" Bashor (Jon) of El Cerrito, Calif.; Stephen Wing (Marilyn) of Bettendorf, Iowa, and Geoffrey Wing (Genevieve) of Encinitas, Calif.; three grandchildren, Blake Wing, Colin Bashor, and Stephanie Pelletier; .and two great-grandsons, Colton and Camden. Interment will be in the Wing plot of Oak Grove Cemetery with only the immediate family present. In lieu of bringing food or gifts to the celebration of life, donations to the La Crosse Public Library, the Gundersen Medical Foundation, or to the Women's Fund of Greater La Crosse would be appreciated.