Sarah ‘Sally’ Lidell

Sally Lidell

Sarah “Sally” Lidell — whose daughter described her as “a consummate caregiver” — died peacefully on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Chase Nursing Home in New Berlin, New York. She was 93.

“Sally spent her life caring for those she loved most: her husband, parents, in-laws, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren,” her daughter, Susan Lidell Klim, wrote in a tribute.

In the midst of World War II, Mrs. Lidell trained to be a nurse — and just kept on caring for people. When Hartwick College gave her an award for helping nursing students, “She was flabbergasted,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Lidell was also once named HellKitten of the Year, being the wife of a Hellcat — a soldier in the 12th Armored Division.

“She was humble,” Ms. Klim explained. “She was never looking for appreciation. … She never said a bad word about anybody. She was always kind, and caring for family and friends.”

Ms. Klim concluded, “She was selfless.”

Sarah Frances Hardic Lidell was born Sept. 5, 1925 in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania, the only child of Floyd and Helen (née Robinson) Hardic. The family moved to Edmeston in Otsego County, New York when Sally was 2 years old. Her father worked in the family coal and farm-machinery business and her mother ran a beauty shop.

She graduated from Edmeston Central School in 1944 and enlisted in the Cadet Nurse Corps, training at Hartwick College in Oneonta.

“The Cadet Nurse Corps was established by the United States Congress in 1943, to increase the number of nurses available to care for U.S. citizens at home and abroad during World War II,” wrote Ms. Klim. “The Cadet Nurse Corps operated under the auspices of the U.S. Public Health Service from 1943 to 1948. During that time, 179,294 women enrolled in the program and 124,065 graduated, including African-American, Japanese-American and Native American nurses, as the program prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, or creed.”

Ms. Klim also wrote, “The importance of the Cadet Nurse Corps to a small college like Hartwick during the war when the student population was depleted due to military service, was significant — it likely saved the college from closure. It was also the beginning of the Nursing Program at Hartwick which continues to this day.”

Before going to Hartwick, Mrs. Lidell had already met the love of her life, Wallace Lidell, who lived the next town over, their daughter said. “She was up at a little lake where her parents had a camp. He was swimming and she was canoeing,” Ms. Klim said, launching into the story of how her parents had met. “He was tired and wanted a ride back. She was playing hard to get and towed him back.”

During the war, Mr. Lidell served with the 12th Armored Division, 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squad, in France and Germany. His tank unit participated in grueling combat during General George Patton’s push to the Rhine, as well as in the liberation of concentration and prisoner-of-war camps. He remained in Germany with the Army of the Occupation after the war, and was a faithful member of the 12th Armored Division Association throughout his life.

After coming home from the war, he married Sarah Hardic, on June 25, 1947. They celebrated 65 years of marriage before his death in 2012.

“He proposed to her by letter,” said Ms. Klim who still has the letters her parents exchanged during the war.

They settled in South Edmeston, where they raised their two children: Tim and Susan. “She was a great mother,” said Ms. Klim. “She supported us and encouraged us in everything we did. She attended band concerts, sporting events, anything we did.”

Mrs. Lidell did the same for her grandchildren. “She’d drive to Altamont three days a week to care for my son while I worked,” said Ms. Klim.

“She walked alongside the marching band, sewed costumes, helped with school projects, attended dance recitals, band concerts, basketball and soccer games, and whatever other events her family chose to take on, as long as she was able,” Ms. Klim said.

Mrs. Lidell worked for New York Central Mutual Insurance Company as a claims processor until her retirement in 1988. She was active in many community organizations, including her church and the Eastern Star.

In 2010, the Lidells sold their home and moved to Altamont to be near their daughter. “My dad had kidney failure and was on dialysis three nights a week. My mom would sit with him for hours,” said Ms. Klim. After Mr. Lidell died, their daughter said, “My mom stayed on in Altamont on her own ... She was a voracious reader and learner. She’d read books and write letters.

“When she couldn’t get out on her own, she’d have a stack of letters for me to post and she’d get a stack of letters back,” said her daughter.

“She was a faithful friend to many,” Ms. Klim wrote. “She was always there to lend her hands to help others, kept a cool head in times of crisis ... played the piano, researched our family history, loved good food (and chocolate, along with something salty) and a strong cup of coffee.”

When she could no longer manage on her own, her daughter said, “I got her into a little nursing home back in her hometown; it was more homey with her friends there. She was an only child but had to share a room there.”

At the end, said Ms. Klim, “We sat vigil for two days with her. Our family was all together. What you could feel in that room between all of us and with her was incredible. There was tremendous bonding.”

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Sarah Frances Hardic Lidell is survived by her children: son Tim Lidell and his wife, Connie, and their children, Amy Grant and her husband, Marty, and children Alicia, Colin and Brynn, and Angie Alger and her husband, Brad, and their son, Owen; and daughter Susan Klim and her husband, Brian, and their children Sean, Zachary and his husband, Phillip, and Courtney Mazzone and her husband, JJ, and their children, Finn and Kenneally.

She is also survived by her niece Gail Browning and her husband, Dave, and her nephew Chris Geiselmann and his wife, Carol, along with nine great- and great-great nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Wallace Don Lidell, died in 2012.

Calling hours are Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Dakin Funeral Home in New Berlin, followed by a funeral service at 2 p.m. at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New Berlin.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 40 South Main St., New Berlin NY  13411 or to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (located at Arlington National Cemetery — it houses a Cadet Nurse Corps exhibit and a registry of women who served) at www.womensmemorial.org  or by mail to Post Office Box 420560, Washington, D.C. 20042-0560.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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