Widowed in 1945 at age 31, Madeline Muller of Uniondale raised two daughters on a school lunch aide's salary -- supplemented with side jobs -- and continued working until age 89, her family said.
Muller died June 28 at age 98 from complications that developed following a fall and was buried Wednesday at Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn next to her late husband, George, her family said.
"She never dwelled on what might have been or expressed self-pity -- though she more than earned that right," Nassau County Legis. Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn), one of her grandchildren, said.
She was born Madeline Schmidberger on Aug. 15, 1914, in Brooklyn, and lived in the Maspeth section of Queens until 1971, when she moved to Uniondale.
She graduated from PS 71 at age 14 just before the onset of the Great Depression. She married George Muller in 1937. He entered the U.S. Army as a signalman in 1938 and died of an illness in 1945, just five months after their second daughter was born.
Her first job was as a school lunch aide for the New York City school system, and she later did the same work at Hempstead and Uniondale schools.
"To make ends meet she worked, sometimes, three or four jobs at a time to care for her two daughters," Wink said. "Like many of her generation, she never dwelled on the things she did not have."
She took whatever side jobs she could find, working in florist shops, funeral homes or anywhere she could earn a little more to raise her daughters, Wink said.
"Her work ethic was unmatched," he said.
"She could never sit still, always washing dishes, doing the laundry or preparing a home-cooked meal for anyone who happened by," he said. "If someone left hungry, it was not for her lack of trying to feed them. In fact, people would sometimes arrive unannounced for a glass of her homemade iced tea or a plate of her snickerdoodles."
Her younger daughter, Georgina, Wayne Wink's mother, was 61 when she died of cancer in 2008. Her other daughter, Diane Menting, 73, lives in Blackstone, Va.
She is also survived by seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.