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Mary Elizabeth Udell

June 5, 2013


Hudson, NY


Recorded by

Arrow Zelasnic

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Mary Udell came to Hudson in 2002.   She was born in Swampscott, MA and lived in Massachusetts until the age of 18.  Her father died when she was 14.   She attended Syracuse University, majoring in Fine Art.   She took a summer job at Harper's Bazzar magazine during her sophmore year.   By then her mother had moved to New York and Mary decided to remain at Harper's Bazaar, living at home.   There she stayed a number of years in the layout department,  working with photographers such as Richard Avedon.   She married and had three girls.   The family moved to Westchester County.,  There Mary was active in the arts community, eventually operating an art gallery, the Sound Shore Gallery,  in Portchester which had a full schedule of public programming.   She attended jewelry making classes at Westchester  Arts School, a public institution and was instrumental in keeping it open during a proposed  budget cut.

She met Dan Udell at a singles event in a church in Stamford, CT.    Dan worked for IBM as a technical writer until his retirement.  Dan went to Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and they often made the trip up the Hudson to visit his alma mater.   During one of these trips, they stopped in Hudson for lunch and Dan convinced Mary that Hudson would be a good place for them to live in retirement.   They purchased a small house in Taghkanic, NY and moved here permanently in 2002.

Mary has always been active around human rights issues.   She ascribes this to the influence of her mother who was a social worker.   In 2008 she campaigned for the election of Barack Obama and after he won, an email was sent out to all campaign volunteers asking them to continue volunteering in their communities.  From this, Mary and Dan began volunteering with Hudson Reads, a program where volunteers read to  middle school children who need extra tutoring.   Then came the Video Generation Club, where they train young people to record community meetings and events on video.  They have their own YouTube channel--Udell Community Action where interested viewers can see common council meetings and other community events like Winter Walk and the Flag Day Parade.  One of their students is active in the Stacy B. Keith Justice System.   Mary continues to work in the intersection of the arts and community life.  She volunteers with Black Arts and Culture Festival every year, operating a exhibition tent for visual artists.  Additionally, she publishes a yearly guide book of summer activities for low income youth, "Hudson is a Summer Festival."

Interviewer Bio:
Arrow Zelasnic

I was born in Scranton, Pennsyvania and currently live in New York City. My interest in oral history has been growing for a few years but until Oral History Summer School, I never acted on it. I am happy to work on building an Archive of voices of Hudson Residents in the 21st Century; providing living evidence and wisdom of those who are here to those who will honor them in the future.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

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