Lydia Ann Coulter

Obituary of Lydia Ann Coulter

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THE TEXT IMMEDIATELY BELOW IS THE OBITUARY THAT WAS PRINTED IN THE SCRANTON TIMES-TRIBUNE ON SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2020.

FOLLOWING THIS ORIGINAL VERSION IS A SECOND, EXPANDED VERSION

 

 

Lydia Ann Coulter, 102, of Baylor's Lake, Fleetville, formerly of Latrobe, PA, died peacefully in her sleep, Tuesday, June 16, at Abington Manor Nursing and Rehab facility.

She was the wife of George A. Coulter who died November 16, 1999, and was preceded in death by brother, William Roberts, and sister, Janice Roberts Pechan.

Surviving are a son, George R. "Rob" Coulter, of Narberth, PA; a daughter, Cynthia Ann Marcinik, of Latrobe, PA; a brother, James O. Roberts, of Lewes, DE; a granddaughter, Dinah L. Marcinik and fiancé Philip Core, of Pittsburgh, PA; a grandson, Jonathan A. Marcinik and wife, Carla, and great-granddaughters, Anna and Faith, all of Shady Side, MD. Lydia Ann also is remembered fondly as "Aunt Lan" by three nephews and three nieces, as well as great- and great-great nephews and nieces.

On March 21, 1918, she was born to the late James F. and Elva Orndorf Roberts, in Latrobe, PA, where she would live the first half of her life.

An excellent student, she graduated from Latrobe High School in 1936 and later took many professional development courses from Penn State.

During WW II, with her husband serving in Italy, she worked in New York City tracking war materiel and other freight for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Post-war, back in Latrobe Lydia Ann sang in the choir, led the Youth Fellowship and chaired committees at the Methodist Church. She also became president of the Council of Church Women and secretary of the Civic Club.

In the mid-1950s she produced and hosted her own radio show, "Town Talk", on Latrobe's station, WAKU, where she dispensed news of town activities and interviewed local personalities who had interesting jobs, hobbies, and life histories – including the mother of Latrobe's golf legend, Arnold Palmer.

In late 1950s, as chairman of the Membership Campaign for Latrobe Civic Music Association, her work was key to that group's successful launching and early years.

In 1961 she headed funding efforts for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Washington County and later was named Executive Director of their agency in Spring Church, PA.

In 1963 Lydia Ann teamed with James Ebersberger, of Latrobe Elks Lodge #907, to help inaugurate what ultimately grew into the award-winning "Pennsylvania Elks Home Service Program" which today serves hundreds of clients with many types of disabilities across all of Pennsylvania. The initial version of the program provided a vehicle and health personnel, enabling Lydia Ann to arrange treatment for her UCP clients in their own homes.

In January of 1966 she was recruited to become the Executive Director of UCP of Northeastern PA, in Scranton. In the 1970s she testified to a congressional committee on funding services to citizens with disabilities, where Wilkes-Barre Congressman, Dan Flood, joked with her, saying, "You can't be from Scranton, you're wearing shoes!"

She was a member of the Association of Professional Workers in Cerebral Palsy, was head of the International Relations Committee of Quota Club of Scranton and in 1997 received a Scranton Pocono Girl Scouts Council award for Women of Distinction.

By her retirement in December of 1984, UCP had raised the number and quality of their services and had greatly increased the number of people they served, with the budget growing from $35,000 to more than $1,200,000. She received a letter of congratulations from President Ronald Reagan. Following retirement, she served on UCP's board.

Shortly after their arrival in the Scranton area, Lydia Ann and her husband moved to Baylor's Lake, near Fleetville, where they hosted four decades of much-beloved lakeside 4th of July family reunions. As a team, she and George for years volunteered many services to Lacawac Sanctuary, which in appreciation named the visitors center for them. At Baylor's Lake, they led a group of fellow residents in forming the Baylor's Land Corporation to acquire some 40 acres of forest critical to protecting the lake's watershed. Lydia Ann then joined the Countryside Conservancy as a founding member and was its secretary. She also was a member of WVIA's Community Advisory Board, President of Lithia Valley Foods Co-Op, Secretary of the Benton Township Planning Commission, and Treasurer of the Benton-Nicholson Joint Sewer Authority. In the early 2000s she was active in the Factoryville United Methodist Church.

A lifelong music lover, she sang, played piano, listened to WVIA all day long, and enjoyed every season of the Northeastern Pa Philharmonic from the time of its inception. Her skill as a cook was renown – enjoyed by family, friends, and visiting UCP professionals whom she often entertained at the lake. She was a voracious reader of news and books. Her lifelong passion for trains stemmed from the Pennsylvania Railroad where she, her father and father-in-law all worked at one time or another.

The family deeply thanks all the wonderful people at Abington Manor who, for nearly five years, provided Lydia Ann excellent health care and sincere affection.

Plans for a memorial service are in abeyance, pending resolution of the public health situation.

Any contributions to UCP of NEPA, The Countryside Conservancy, Lacawac Foundation and WVIA will go to organizations Lydia Ann was proud to serve.

Excellent service was provided by Shifler-Parise Funeral Home of Clifford, PA. Please visit Parisefuneralhome.com to read a lengthier biography, to leave condolences and to find contacts for contributions.

 

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THE TEXT IMMEDIATELY BELOW IS A SUBSTANTIALLY EXPANDED VERSION OF THE OBITUARY THAT WAS PRINTED IN THE SCRANTON TIMES-TRIBUNE ON SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2020.

IN ADDITION TO THE TEXT OF THE PRINTED OBITUARY IT ALSO CONTAINS OTHER ACTIVITIES LYDIA ANN ENJOYED, PLUS PERSONAL FAMILY DETAILS. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT IT CONTAINS TOO MUCH DETAIL; NEVERTHELESS, IT IS PROVIDED FOR WHATEVER VALUE HER FRIENDS MAY FIND IN LEARNING THINGS THEY PREVIOUSLY WERE NOT AWARE OF.

 

Lydia Ann Coulter, 102, of Baylor's Lake, Fleetville, formerly of Latrobe, PA, died peacefully in her sleep, Tuesday, June 16, at Abington Manor Nursing and Rehab facility, after living with a form of Parkinson's Disease for many years.

She was the wife of George Alpheus Coulter who died November 16, 1999, and was preceded in death by brother, William Roberts, and sister, Janice Roberts Pechan.

Surviving are a son, George R. "Rob" Coulter, of Narberth, PA; a daughter, Cynthia Ann Marcinik, of Latrobe, PA; a brother, James O. Roberts, of Lewes, DE; a granddaughter, Dinah L. Marcinik and fiancé Philip Core, of Pittsburgh, PA; a grandson, Jonathan A. Marcinik and wife, Carla, and great-granddaughters, Anna and Faith, all of Shady Side, MD. Lydia Ann also is remembered fondly as "Aunt Lan" by three nephews and three nieces, as well as great- and great-great nephews and nieces.

On March 21, 1918, she was born to the late James F. and Elva Orndorf Roberts, in Latrobe, PA, where she would live the first half of her life, first living on St. Clair Street , where over the next eight years Elva gave birth to sons, William, then James, and finally, daughter, Janice. Father, James, daily walked to his job with the Pennsylvania Railroad at the freight station on Depot Street and on Sundays the whole family worshipped regularly at what then was known as the Latrobe Methodist Episcopal Church. Lydia Ann particularly enjoyed the role of music in the life of the church, playing the piano and singing in services and many of the church's special programs.

Much of the summer was spent at grandfather Orndorf's summer cottage, eight miles away in leafy Ridgeview Park, where Lydia Ann's love of the outdoors began. Often the cottage crowd included Elva's elder sisters, Grace and Nell who back in town lived next-door to each other, on Ridge Avenue – Nell with husband, Bill Story – just a block away from their younger sister and her family on St. Clair Street.

Sadly, in 1927, when Lydia Ann was only nine years old and the youngest, Janice, not yet two, Elva died after a drawn-out struggle with cancer, and James was left with four young children to raise. Although the aunts worked tirelessly, looking after Lydia Ann and her brothers and sister, it was not enough. Ultimately, James and his sister-in-law, Grace, some years his senior, settled on a practical solution and married, with James and Lydia Ann and her three siblings moving into Grace's house on Ridge Avenue. Living with her father, stepmother, brothers, and sister – and with Aunt Nell and Uncle Bill next door – Lydia Ann had a loving home. But she missed her mother for a long time.

It was when the Great Depression arrived that Lydia Ann learned to feed the chickens Grace began raising. The family then scrunched down to free up a bedroom in order to bring in a paying boarder. As they made do over the next six or so years, Lydia Ann progressed through grade school, which was right next door, and on to high school, which required walking an additional block – always a short trip home for lunch.

As she had in church, now in high school Lydia Ann kept her music life active, singing in the girl's chorus and playing piano, either as a soloist or accompanying singers and dancers. She was an editor for the high school publications. Also, as a freshman, she won first prize in the local Kiwanis Club's annual extemporaneous speaking contest. These activities did not adversely affect her studies: she frequently was on the honor roll or high honor roll and was inducted into the National Honor Society.

One weekend Lydia Ann went out with a friend on a double date. They were joined by a certain George Coulter, from the Pittsburgh area, and his date, and that was the way it all began.

In late 1935, the Pennsylvania Railroad offered her father a much-desired promotion … to a job in New York City. To give Lydia Ann the opportunity to graduate from Latrobe High School, her father went first, moving to Lynbrook, on Long Island, which was an easy rail commute into the city. Lydia Ann graduated in June of 1936 and, although she and George already pretty much knew what their mutual intentions were, by August she and her stepmother and siblings had joined her father in Lynbrook.

Lydia Ann found a job working at the cash register of a dry-cleaning business during the day and at night spent hours writing letters. Meantime, George had moved to Latrobe to take a job at the town's newspaper, The Latrobe Bulletin, where he apprenticed as an operator of a Linotype machine, setting type.

They began saving their money to get married. Since both Lydia Ann's father and George's father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, each was able to secure passes for family travel. So, for the next three years they could see each other when George was able to visit the Roberts family in Lynbrook or Lydia Ann came to visit her Aunt Nell and Uncle Bill, who still lived in Latrobe.

Finally, on June 24, 1939 Lydia Ann Roberts and George Alpheus Coulter were married in Lynbrook, NY. As they got settled back in Latrobe, they ultimately ended up moving into the same house on Ridge Avenue where Lydia Ann had lived with her family while she was in school – with Aunt Nell and Uncle Bill still living next door.

Their first child, George Roberts Coulter, was born in 1942, with World War II now under way. When the Army called, George A. Coulter, ended up with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy and Lydia Ann took her son to Lynbrook, where they moved in with her family. She obtained a job in New York City working for the Pennsylvania Railroad's freight division which, among other operations, transferred war materials from rail cars to convoys departing for Europe.

Post-war, back in Latrobe, Lydia Ann and George resumed their active roles in the Methodist Church, where as a team they led the Methodist Youth Fellowship group, while Lydia Ann sang in the choir and chaired committees for the Women's Society of Christian Service. She also became president of the Council of Church Women and secretary of the Latrobe Civic Club.

In 1948 a daughter, Cynthia Ann Coulter, arrived to even out the family gender distribution. In those early years much of Lydia Ann's time centered directly on the family. The Latrobe Bulletin was a quarter of a mile from home, and in George's allotted half-hour lunch break he had exactly enough time to walk home, quickly eat lunch and walk back, a schedule that he and Lydia Ann daily executed like clockwork. Lunch for the kids was added in as they reached school age, though their schedule was less strenuous – they lived next door to the school and they had an hour for lunch. Even so, Lydia Ann always looked for ways she could augment the family income. For several years, she was Latrobe's "Welcome Wagon" hostess, paid to visit the homes of women who recently came to town or recently were married or had had a first child – in each case, welcoming or congratulating them and giving them free products. Those were products that sponsors hired Lydia Ann to introduce to potential customers who could benefit from the gift. Later, during another period, she successfully sold Avon products, developing a clientele who regularly ordered from her, and to whom she made the deliveries, when she also took new orders.

All the time, Lydia Ann was looking for a way she could earn income with less time away from home, and eventually she found a way – to work for herself. In the mid-1950s she produced and hosted her own half-hour morning radio show, "Town Talk", on station WAKU in Latrobe. From 9:30 to 10:00 AM, on Tuesdays and Thursdays she dispensed news of town activities and interviewed local personalities who had interesting jobs, hobbies, and life histories. Lydia Ann often recalled her 1958 interview with the mother of Latrobe's golf legend, Arnold Palmer, just days after he won his first Masters, remarking that Mrs. Palmer was equally proud that Arnie's younger brother, Jerry, was confirmed in the Catholic Church on the same day that Arnie won the Masters. In the summer she frequently traveled with her husband to the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, PA, to attend the current play's dress rehearsal and to interview the director about the upcoming performance and notable actors. Initially, Lydia Ann was independent of WAKU's other operations: she bought two weekly half-hours slots of air time from the station and had to line up her own sponsors to pay the station and to cover her other expenses. Although she always retained that arrangement for Town Talk, after a time the she was hired to also take on other promotional and sales functions for WAKU.

In late 1950s, she was selected by the Latrobe Civic Music Association to be chairman of their Membership Campaign, a volunteer position. The newly formed association's goal was to bring professional talent to Latrobe to deliver concerts and other performances. They needed enough people join the association and pay to attend those performances. Lydia Ann's work was key to that group's successful launching and early years.

In 1961 she headed funding efforts for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Washington County and later was named Executive Director of their agency in Spring Church, PA.

In 1963 Lydia Ann teamed with James Ebersberger, of Latrobe Elks Lodge #907, to help inaugurate what ultimately grew into the award-winning "Pennsylvania Elks Home Service Program" which today serves hundreds of clients with many types of disabilities across all of Pennsylvania. The initial version of the program provided a vehicle and health personnel, enabling Lydia Ann to arrange treatment for her UCP clients in their own homes.

In January of 1966 she was recruited to become the Executive Director of UCP of Northeastern PA, in Scranton. In the 1970s she testified to a congressional committee on funding services to citizens with disabilities, where Wilkes-Barre Congressman, Dan Flood, joked with her, saying, "You can't be from Scranton, you're wearing shoes!"

She was a member of the Association of Professional Workers in Cerebral Palsy, was head of the International Relations Committee of Quota Club of Scranton and in 1997 received a Scranton Pocono Girl Scouts Council award for Women of Distinction.

By her retirement in December of 1984, UCP had raised the number and quality of their services and had greatly increased the number of people they served, with the budget growing from $35,000 to more than $1,200,000. She received a letter of congratulations from President Ronald Reagan. Following retirement, she served on UCP's board.

Shortly after their arrival in the Scranton area, Lydia Ann and her husband moved to Baylor's Lake, near Fleetville, where they hosted four decades of much-beloved lakeside 4th of July family reunions. Lydia Ann never was happier than when doling out chili on one day of the 4th weekend and clam chowder the next, her signature fare to go along with the burgers and hotdogs and potato salad. The bonds that Lydia Ann and Bill and Jim and Janice Roberts developed back during those hard times in the 1930s were deep and warm, and over the years permeated the relationships that developed with all the cousins who came to visit "Aunt Lan and Uncle George" at the lake every 4th. It is a marvelous legacy bequeathed by widower James Roberts and his spinster sister-in-law, Grace, whose marriage of necessity and love for the children, kept the family together. Today it is their great, great, great-grandchildren who are the latest beneficiaries.

Lydia Ann and George were a team who for years volunteered many services to Lacawac Sanctuary, which in appreciation named the visitors center for them. At Baylor's Lake, they again teamed up to lead a group of fellow residents in forming the Baylor's Land Corporation (BLC) to acquire some 40 acres of leafy land critical to protecting the lake's watershed. A short time later the people who were in the process of forming The Countryside Conservancy to similarly protect the natural state of land and water invited Lydia Ann to join them as a founding member. She worked with them for years and for a while was the organization's secretary. She also was a member of WVIA's Community Advisory Board, President of Lithia Valley Foods Co-Op, Secretary of the Benton Township Planning Commission, and Treasurer of the Benton-Nicholson Joint Sewer Authority. In the early 2000s she was active in the Factoryville United Methodist Church and enjoyed joining several of her church friends for brunch after Sunday services.

Always expressing her love for music, she sang, played piano, listened to WVIA all day long, and enjoyed every season of the Northeastern Pa Philharmonic from the time of its inception. Her skill as a cook was renown. Beyond chili and chowder, her gourmet meals were enjoyed by family, friends, and visiting UCP professionals whom she often entertained at the lake. An erstwhile photographer neighbor who occasionally did work for Gourmet Magazine sometimes would ask to use some of her fancy table settings for his work. A voracious reader, she consumed books the way hungry kids devour cookies. Her lifelong passion for trains stemmed from the Pennsylvania Railroad where she, her father and father-in-law all worked at one time or another.

Somehow, along the way she also had time to become an accomplished seamstress, first sewing suits and coats for her young children and later sewing well-fitted slipcovers for chairs and cushions.

And she just loved being a grandmother, thinking nothing of driving 275 miles and four hours to get to Latrobe where she'd pick up her young granddaughter and grandson and then turning around to drive to places like Washington, DC, where they'd visit the White House and Air and Space Museum and monuments. And, of course, then return the children to Latrobe before driving herself back to Scranton. Another time she'd pick them up and drive to the Atlantic seashore, just so these landlocked kids from Western Pennsylvania could have an ocean experience, complete with sand and surf and seagulls.

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The family thanks all the wonderful people at Abington Manor who, for nearly five years, provided Lydia Ann excellent health care and sincere affection.

Plans for a memorial service are in abeyance, pending resolution of the public health situation.

Any contributions to UCP of NEPA, The Countryside Conservancy, Lacawac Foundation and WVIA will go to organizations Lydia Ann was proud to serve.

Compassionate assistance was provided by the Shifler-Parise Funeral Home of Clifford, PA.

 

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LINKS FOR POSSIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS

 

United Cerebral Palsy of Northeast Pennsylvania

https://ucpnepa.org/

 

Countryside Conservancy

Protecting & connecting greenspace for the public benefit, now and for future generations.

https://countrysideconservancy.org/

 

Lacawac Sanctuary is dedicated to inspiring lifelong connections to nature and shaping the next generation of scientists and earth stewards through research, education, preservation.

https://lacawac.org/

 

WVIA - PBS / NPR

https://wvia.org/

 

Additional Information about the Pennsylvania Elks Home Service Program

https://www.elks.org/programs/stateProjects.cfm?statecode=PA

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