2007-10-24 / Features

Rozsika Hetyei-Ascenzi Dies At 90, Burial At Riker-Lent Homestead

Photo Marion Duckworth Smith Rozsika Hetyei-Ascenzi toward the end of her life. Photo Marion Duckworth Smith Rozsika Hetyei-Ascenzi toward the end of her life. Rozsika Hetyei-Ascenzi, a noted artist who used pastels as her primary medium, died Friday, September 28 at her home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with her daughters, Lisa Aromi and Marion Duckworth Smith, in attendance. She was 90 years old.

Hetyei-Ascenzi is to be interred next to her husband, Charles Ascenzi Jr., in the Riker burial ground at the Riker-Lent Homestead in Jackson Heights. Marion Duckworth Smith and her husband, Michael M. Smith, are the current owners of the historic site, built in 1654. Besides her daughters, Hetyei-Ascenzi is survived by two granddaughters, Leslie Granger and Eva Aroni, and a sister, Olga Smith, of California, seven years her elder.

Hetyei-Ascenzi was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Hungarian immigrant parents. She won her first medal in a drawing competition at age 10 and went on to win medals and awards for her work for most of the rest of her life. At age 90 she won honorable mention in a worldwide competition sponsored by The Pastel Journal. She also produced calendars and note cards for a Netherlands publishing company and fundraising cards for the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (now the United Spinal Association). Private collectors, including soprano Renée Fleming, own many of her works.

After an exhibit at a Midtown gallery in January 1978, her entire 30-painting show was stolen. It has never been recovered. Two of her pastels that hung in Morgan Stanley brokerage house headquarters at the World Trade Center were lost on 9/11.

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