Dr. Lelia M. Roeckell-Szemiot, of Bayonne, formerly of Huntington, N.Y., passed away suddenly, on Monday, March 2, 2020.
“Lee” as she was known by all, was a Professor of History with the Molloy College in Rockville Centre, NY, for the past 22 years. Lee was a supportive colleague and friend who made significant contributions to the field of education. She served as Chair of the History and Political Science Department from 2003 to 2012. She graduated with a D.Phil. in History from St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford in England in 1993 and had originally taught as an adjunct at Molloy from 1994 to 1996 before joining the ranks of the full-time faculty in 1998. She had a passion for course development, which was demonstrated by her deep commitment to helping students succeed in the Honors Program. She served as a principal architect of the History course in the Program which she taught for many years, and she created a website for the Honors Capstone Experience where students could share their research on local topics that had global significance. She was a founding faculty member of the very innovative, interdisciplinary Gotham: NY Experience Core Course where she provided hands-on experience by guiding students around different sections of the city to explore historical and cultural sites. Her expertise regarding New York City helped to make this one of the most popular courses at the College. Lee also assisted in the development of the newly formed Experiential Learning Academy. In addition, she was an acknowledged authority on nineteenth century American foreign relations and antebellum American history and had authored several articles on these subjects.
Lee will be deeply missed and remembered as a gracious and generous woman who gave freely and selflessly to others. She lived a remarkable life and left the world a better place because of her presence.
Lee was predeceased by her father John G. Roeckell, and her father-in-law Mario J. Szemiot. Left to cherish her memory are her devoted husband Richard, her adored son John Richard Szemiot, her mother Lelia H. Roeckell (nee: Hurlston), her mother-in-law Mary (nee: Wierzbicki) Szemiot, two brothers, Jack Roeckell and Mark Roeckell and his wife Sally. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews and all those who have come to know her as a friend and confidant.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a visitation at the Dworzanski & Son Funeral Home on Sunday, March 8, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. A funeral mass in Lee's honor will be held on Monday, March 9, at 10:00 a.m. from the Parish of St. John Paul II at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 39 East 22nd Street, Bayonne, N.J. Interment will take place at the family burial plot on Shelter Island, N.Y.
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