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Lydia Molnar Serrell

  • Birth 16 Oct 1913 Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, USA
  • Death 10 Jan 2008 Schenectady, Schenectady County, New York, USA
  • Burial Niskayuna, Schenectady County, New York, USA
  • Memorial ID 24106030

Times-Union, date unknown (this is not the full obituary due to space available)

Serrell, Lydia (Molnar)
NISKAYUNA, N.Y.--Lydia Molnar Serrell, of Cayuga Road, Niskayuna, died January 10, 2008, while recuperating from an illness at the home of her grandson and his family in Schenectady. She was 94 years old. The cause of death was heart failure. She resided in Niskayuna at the same address for over 50 years, a story-and-half stone home designed and built by Dr. Paul Schaefer.
She was born in Schenectady, on Oct 16, 1913, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth J. Molnar, both of whom were young immigrants from villages in Hungary, who met and married in Schenectady. As in many families, her paternal grandparents, also moved from Hungary to Schenectady to work after their son was established here. The family of carriage makers evolved into home builders in their new country. Mrs. Serrell remained fluent in Hungarian throughout her life.
She attended Schenectady schools and graduated from Nott Terrace High School. In middle age, while working as a museum consultant with the Power Authority of New York State at Lansing Manor House and Museum, she also attended Empire State College. She was just short of the final credits for achieving her bachelor's degree, and played with the idea of completing her degree upon retirement.
Serrell was employed as an accountant for the Bellevue Dairy directly after high school. She was married in 1937 to William J. Serrell Jr of Schenectady. Their only son, William Joseph Serrell, was born in June 1943. Her husband was drafted in the United States Army in February 1, 1944, while working at the General Electric Company. Within three weeks of arriving in France, he was killed in battle, in a tank-infantry team, August 13, 1944, near Mortain, France, leaving his wife with a young son to raise.
She moved eventually to Niskayuna to a new home built by designer-builder Paul Schaefer, and eventually in the early 1960's, joined in partnership with his company, Iroquis Hills, Inc. She served in several capacities during the 25 years of that partnership, including becoming a real estate broker, an interior designer to help new homeowners, and was treasurer of the company.
During her company's restoration work on the early 19th Century Lansing Manor Museum at site of New York State Power Authority's Blenheim Pumped Power Plant in Schoharie County, she was offered the position of museum consultant. She worked directly with noted historical preservationist Bruce Sherwood, who oversaw the creation of the museum from concept to development of an exceptional house museum. Serrell served 20 years in that role, helping with acquisitions and cataloging of authentic materials and household appurtenances for the elegant farmstead.
In her work with Paul Schaefer, who played a role in establishment of the first historic district in New York in the Stockade of Schenectady, it was her 1790's property on Ferry street that received the first designation for a home there. The house was restored by Schaefer's company, as were other buildings and apartments in the Stockade over the following decades.
Initially Serrell volunteered her work with the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. When the organization moved from New York City's Wall Street to Niskayuna in 1963, Lydia was one of three key players who sustained it until it was rebuilt to a leadership role in Adirondack and Catskill and litigation for preservation. She took over roles of the association in 1963. Eventually she was full time in 1989 and was doing accounting and serving as assistant treasurer.
Lydia Serrell was predeceased by her parents, her husband William Joseph Serrell Jr; her fiance Jack Dundley; her only son, William (Corky) Serrell, who died February 2, 1995.
Her surviving family includes three grandsons, William John, his wife Terry Lynn, and daughter Morgan Lynn of Schenectady; Christopher Serrell of Las Vegas, Nev; and John Serrell of Saratoga Springs. She was the eldest survivng member of her and her husband's family and was in contact with family members descended from Lawrence Serrell, her husband's nephew, who worked for the Schenectady Gazette.
A graveside service will be held in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery on Troy Road in Niskayuna at 2p.m. on Wednesday, January 16. Arrangements are being handled by Gleason's Funeral Home in Schenectady.
Contributions in memory of Lydia M. Serrell may be sent to the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, 897 St. Davids Lane, Niskayuna, NY 12309.

Schenectady County icon dies

By Ross Marvin

First Posted: Monday, January 21, 2008 -2:15 a.m.

Lydia Molnar Serrell, 94, of Niskayuna, a lover of history, architecture and the Adirondacks, died on Thursday, Jan. 10, while recuperating from an illness.

A lifelong resident of Schenectady County and the daughter of Hungarian immigrants, Serrell made her mark as a museum consultant at the Lansing Manor House, in North Blenheim, Schohairie County, which dates to 1819. There, she oversaw the creation of the museum from concept to development, ensuring the building's historical integrity by furnishing the homestead with authentic period pieces.

While her occupation placed her squarely in the confines of a home, her volunteer life centered itself in the open spaces of the Adirondacks.

She played a major role in the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She championed the preservation of the Adirondacks through area education initiatives and endorsed litigation that helped insure sustainability of the region.

She was also a lover of the arts, especially the work of Adirondack artist Rockwell Kent and the architecture of designer-builder Paul Schaefer.

A woman who wore many professional hats, Serrell partnered with Schaefer as a real-estate broker at Iroquois Hills, Inc. for more than 25 years.

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondack's Executive Director David Gibson called her the most devoted member in the organization's history.

Lydia's work ethic and personal integrity made her one of the most valuable, knowledgeable and trusted allies any organization could ever ask for, he said. "We are proud to say we worked with her for more than 18 years. She was indispensable."

In her private life, Mrs. Serrell was an avid collector of antiques and reader of local histories.

"Lydia was knowledgeable about so many things," said Linda Champagne, a close friend of Serrell's and former Niskayuna town historian. "She knew a great deal about local history, was an expert on building styles and had impeccable judgment in matters of artistic design."

Serrell was married to William J. Serrell Jr. of Schenectady who died in battle during World War II. She had one son, William Joseph Serrell, who died in 1995.

She is survived by three grandsons, Christopher Serrell, John Serrell and William (Terry Lynn) John of Schenectady; and one great-granddaughter, Morgan Lynn.

A graveside service was held in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery in Niskayuna. Arrangements were by Gleason's Funeral Home, Schenectady.

Contributions may be made to the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, 897 St. David's Lane, Niskayuna 12309.""

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  • Created by: Sharon & Jackie
  • Added: 22 Jan 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 24106030
  • Sharon & Jackie
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lydia Molnar Serrell (16 Oct 1913–10 Jan 2008), Find A Grave Memorial no. 24106030, citing Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Niskayuna, Schenectady County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Sharon & Jackie (contributor 46808067) .