Alexandra Sara Toth Sax, a reference librarian, who was devoted to her family and dedicated to the community of Rye, N.Y. where she lived for nearly 60 years, passed away peacefully on June 11, 2022. She was 86.
Born in Norwalk, Conn., on June 21, 1935, she was the daughter of the Rev. Dr. William Toth and Margaret (Kalassay) Toth.
Lexie, as she was known, studied drama at Syracuse University and history at Columbia University. At the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-on-Avon in England, she continued her study of drama, especially the works of Shakespeare, and worked and performed in the Globe Theater. She earned master’s degrees from Manhattanville College (English literature) and the University of Texas (library science).
In 1957, she married Maurio Sax, who survives her, as do her daughters, Dr. Athena Michael and Tamara Stuckey and their husbands, and her granddaughters, Juliette Michael and Corrinne Stuckey. Her brother, Lt. Col. William Toth, predeceased her.
From an early age, she was a talented thespian, winning drama competitions in high school, playing the lead in a college production of the musical “Finian’s Rainbow,” and performed in various productions of the Woman’s Club of Rye that were written by the late Ion Snodgrass and directed by the late Pat Kirkpatrick.
While her daughter Tamara (Tammy) was growing up, she coached her through multiple theater performances of her own. Corrinne followed in her grandmother’s and mother’s footsteps, winning high school drama awards, and is currently performing in dance and theater productions at Loyola University, Maryland, where she is a student.
Lexie Sax followed in her daughter Athena’s footsteps becoming a librarian and rising to head reference librarian at the New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan branch of. In response to the 2001 recession, she organized a job information center there, scheduling visiting speakers and resume-writing workshops. In 2003, she received the library’s Maher Stern Award for outstanding service.
Earlier, she helped a young Barack Obama, recently graduated from college, in his job search. He acknowledged her help during an American Library Association conference in 2005. “The librarian helped me find these lists of organizations, and I wrote to every organization,” Obama told an interviewer. “One of them wound up being an organization in Chicago that I got a job with.”
Over almost 20 years, mother and daughter attended annual conferences of the American Library Association, where Mrs. Sax was the Secretary for Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table.
An active member of the Rye community, she started a program to teach English to Russian diplomats, the wives and children of Japanese businessmen, and the children of United Nation diplomats who lived in town. She served as president of the Evening Guild and the Woman’s Club of Rye, where she started a theater group. She was also active in the Rye Forum. She belonged to Rye Presbyterian Church and served on the board of the Rye Historical Society.
A world traveler, she returned often to Vienna, where she and her husband honeymooned, and loved trips to Budapest with her mother. In 1971, the Sax family, along with 27 high school students, traveled to the University of Nairobi, where they studied and toured Kenya and Tanzania with the American Institute of Foreign Study. Later, she arranged family trips to Europe and Latin America and across the United States. She had many fond memories of traveling with her granddaughter Juliette throughout the Caribbean. In Japan, she reunited with her Rye adult Japanese English-language students.
She represented the New York Public Library at a celebration of the founding of the National Library in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2006, she joined a U.S. delegation that met with librarians in many universities and public libraries in China.
Mrs. Sax, whose family immigrated from Hungary, was proud of her family’s tradition of public service. Her grandparents, Alexander and Elizabeth Kalassay, founded the Bethlen Orphanage in Ligonier, Pa., after a mining accident in western Pennsylvania. Later, the orphanage turned into an elder care facility, which the family still supports. Her father, who chaired the history department at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., had earlier been a minister at the Salem Evangelical and Reformed Church in Harrisburg, Pa. He also made broadcasts to Eastern Europeans for Radio Free Europe.
Mrs. Sax was accomplished both professionally and socially, loved by family, friends, and coworkers for her warmth, generosity, and helpfulness. “Her legacy will live on in our hearts,” said her family.
Funeral services for Alexandra Sax will be held Saturday, June 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Rye Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow.