Lelia K. Washburn, 90, who taught ancient and modern European history at American University from 1959 until her retirement in 1977, died Feb. 15 at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She was a District resident.

Mrs. Washburn had cancer, her son, Alexandros Washburn, said.

Elisavet Georgia Kanavarioti was born in Athens and was a 1946 graduate of the American College of Greece. In the late 1940s, she moved to New York City to work at the United Nations. She received a master’s degree in American studies from Harvard University in 1953 and moved to the Washington area in 1958.

Mrs. Washburn was an advocate of architectural preservation and won a citizen of the year award from the Capitol Hill Restoration Society in 1965. She was a member of the Harvard Club of Washington.

Her first marriage, to Wilcomb Washburn, ended in divorce. Their son, Harold Washburn, died in 1993.

Survivors include a son, Alexandros Washburn, of New York City; and four granddaughters.

— Megan McDonough