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Schenectady County icon dies

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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