Lucille Uffner Seymour Hilgartner, a resident of Great Neck from 1954 to the mid 1970s, passed away on Nov. 24 in Westminster, MD. She was 99 and died of natural causes.
Lucille, widely known as Lu, was born Aug. 1, 1919, at a Catholic hospital on 139th St. in Manhattan, to her parents, Henrietta Goldberg and Frank Uffner, a fine-furniture salesman.
She graduated in 1937 from George Washington High School in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
On May 30, 1937, she met Jay Seymour on Rockaway Beach in Queens. He took her to her high school prom a few days later, and they were married on Christmas Day, 1942.
Jay became a celebrity photographer, working with Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark and eight U.S. Presidents. Later, he was the staff photographer for the Town of North Hempstead.
For 13 years, Lu worked for the Great Neck Record, beginning her career there by greeting visitors, answering phones, taking classified ads and writing the obituaries. She was promoted from office manager to associate editor and was praised extraordinarily in a column by editor Elizabeth Bogen entitled “Lucille’s Leaving.”
“Lucille leaving? It is almost unthinkable to us here in the Great Neck office who have relied on her competence, her knowledge of life in Great Neck, her unwavering dependability and her just plain human decency,” wrote Bogen.
In the mid ’70s, she and Jay moved to Port Washington. She worked for an office-supplies company that was acquired by Standard Register, where she was the office manager and secretary to an all-male cadre of salesmen.
She enjoyed dancing, from ballroom to tap. When Jay had an assignment to photograph Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista for Life Magazine prior to Castro’s revolution in the late 1950s, he brought Lu along. At an event in Havana, Jay arranged for heartthrob actor, dancer and singer Cesar Romero to dance with her, so much to her surprise that she is said to have fainted, recovering quickly to accept the offer.
Jay and Lu moved from Long Island to retire to Maryland in the mid ’80s. Jay passed away on Feb. 27, 1998.
Lu met her second husband, William L. Hilgartner, when they were both volunteering at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, MD. Bill had had a lifetime career in sales with General Electric.
Both well into their mid 80s, they were married on Feb. 4, 2006. On Valentine’s Day, WJZ-TV, a major Baltimore television news station aired the storybook happening. They moved to the Carroll Lutheran Retirement Community in Westminster, MD, where they lived for the past 11 years.
Lu was buried next to Jay at the Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, MD.
Survivors include her daughters, Diane Seymour of Pikesville, MD, and Arlene Seymour of Stormville, NY; her stepsons William B. Hilgartner and Jay Hilgartner, both of Baltimore, MD; a stepdaughter, Elizabeth Smith, of Mooresville, NC; five grandchildren, Nova Ren Suma, of Philadelphia, Joshua Sebastian Suma, of Richland, WA, Laurel Eng, of Philadelphia, Dawnn Helene Cannata Wienecke of Essex, MD, and Dayle Selena Swartz Segal of York, PA; five step grandchildren, Trevor Buck of Lewes, DE, Tyler Buck of Havre de Grace, MD, Kelly Smith of Lewisburg, PA, Heather Croson of Mooresville, NC, and Jamie Gentille, of Reston, VA; and 10 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, PO Box 515, Northampton, MA 01061.