ONEONTA – The Rev. Dr. Federico Serra-Lima, 90, an Episcopal priest and former chairman of Hartwick College’s Department of Modern & Classical Languages, passed away March 22, 2020,
Federico came full circle, spending his latter years back in Oneonta, first as a resident of Hampshire House, the last several months living at home on East Street enjoying his windows on the world of squirrels and deer.
Federico was born on July 17, 1929, in Argentina to Federico and Elena (Dixon) Serra-Lima.
Though he emigrated to the United States to attend Columbia University, Federico returned to Buenos Aires many times to visit family and friends. It pleased him still to see Serra-Lima nameplate on elegant town car taxis, his father having had the first Ford dealership in Argentina.
Federico earned his undergraduate degree in French, his PhD in Spanish and initially taught at Barnard. In the late 1960s, Federico was recruited by Hartwick College to teach Spanish language and literature, and he rose to department chair.
In 1980, Federico returned to New York City, spending a year at the General Seminary of the Episcopal Church and in 1984 was ordained priest in the Albany Diocese by Bishop Wilbur Hogg. For years Dr. Federico taught at Hartwick while Father Federico ministered to the congregation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin.
After retiring from college teaching, Federico continued to pastor several small parishes (Chatham, Cohoes, Ashland) around the Albany Diocese, serving also on the diocesan Commission of Ministry.
Federico earned a Phi Beta key, and always eager to learn, took courses at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Yonkers, also engaging in profound discussions with a new Buddhist friend Monk Krishna. Federico cherished his memberships in the Holy Cross Society and the Order of St. Luke the Physician.
Federico’s greatest satisfaction came in teaching and preaching, source materials coming both from his voluminous library as well as the internet. He loved chess, poetry, and writing (for several years publishing his own theological newsletter, The Wood Bridge). He was fond of crafting letters to the editor in The Living Church and other magazines, each word, each phrase labored over for the perfect “bon mot.” Federico’s conversation too was that of a wordsmith, laced liberally with puns and other witticisms.
Federico is survived by wife Margaret Serra-Lima, daughter Denise (Jose Luis) Gonzalez, granddaughters Eileen and Joyce, son Jack Paul (Mary), god-daughter Graciela Victorica and her family. Fr. Serra-Lima’s cremains will be interred within the columbarium, Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, at a later date.
Memorials may be sent to Doctors Without Borders, an organization for which Federico had passionate concern. For on-line condolences visit wenkfuneralhome.com