A linchpin member of her neighborhood, extended family, and medical community, Lydia died of metastatic colon cancer May 6, 2021 at her home in White Plains, Maryland, surrounded by her family. She was born Lydia Ann Kowalewski, December 5, 1952, in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, to Edward J. Kowalewski, MD and Nancy J. Leaman. Her father practiced family medicine in Lancaster County, PA. Lydia received her medical training at George Washington University and was a licensed Physicians Assistant. She cared for thousands of surgical, obstetrical and gynecological, rehabilitative, and long-term geriatric patients over a 45-year career in Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert Counties of Maryland.
As a youth she was a superb competitive swimmer. Following in the wake of her older sister Carol Chidester, who became a professional swimming coach, Lydia excelled in the 200 m butterfly and 400 m individual medley events, reaching the Olympic Trials in 1972, where she took 12th in both events. Her dedication to practice and training in the water carried over to her education, where she was her 1970 high school Valedictorian and earned the Jerome P. Lakenon Award as Outstanding Member of her 1975 Physician Assistant Class. She was extremely respected in her medical community, in which she earned a well deserved reputation for the excellence of her care for her patients' health and well-being. In keeping with that interest and dedication to medicine, her body was donated to the Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD to support medical practice and research.
In 1976 she married Louis "Skip" Kovacs, an oceanographer at the Naval Research Laboratory. She is survived by her husband, sons Louis, a family physician, and Michael, a school teacher, her four grandchildren Benjamin, Wyatt, Juliet, and Fiona, her brother Stephen Kowalewski, a university professor of anthropology, and by close to a hundred extended family members on her father's and mother's sides of the family.
Lydia loved the beaches, lighthouses, forests, swamps, waters, and the cultures of Southern Maryland and the North Carolina Outer Banks. Beloved wife and mother, she was a keystone member of her neighborhood, of the 38-strong KovaChideLewski (Kowalewski-Chidester- Kovacs) family, and of her "freundschaft" (the extended Leaman family) for many reasons, including she and Skip providing the 5 gallon ice cream churn at family reunions. Everyone, young and old, takes their turn cranking the big wheel!
A celebration of her life is planned for 5pm, Sunday, 27 June 2021 at the Corbin Nature Pavilion, Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, MD.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in her name be made to the Alice Ferguson Foundation (https://fergusonfoundation.org/support/
) and the USA Swimming Foundation (https://www.usaswimming.org/foundation
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Published by Maryland Independent on May 25, 2021.