“And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?”~ Kahlil Gibran
Audrey Louise Smith LeVasseur died peacefully on Monday, April 18, among family and friends at Windemere in Oak Bluffs. She was 89 years old, and she had fought a long and painful battle with lung disease.
Audrey was born to Pansy and Charles Smith in New York, N.Y., on August 5, 1921. Pansy Smith loved the Vineyard, and brought Audrey here on vacations regularly from the 1940s on.
Audrey was graduated from Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, N.Y. She attended the City University of New York for two years before moving to Washington, D.C., to work in the Treasury Department during the war effort. Upon returning to New York, Audrey met and married war veteran Gladstone Alleyne, had two children, and began her own family life while working as a bank secretary. The couple divorced in 1962.
Audrey later married Philip LeVasseur of Chilmark, whom she’d met on a vacation to the Vineyard. She and her children then moved to Chilmark, singlehandedly integrating the town with their arrival. All went smoothly, Vineyard life being what it was, but after several years of being a housewife, Audrey felt she needed more mental stimulation. She then became a secretary at the Martha’s Vineyard Travel Agency, learning the business from the ground up, eventually purchasing it when the former owner retired.
New vistas then opened for Audrey during this time of her life. She started her own agency, Dukes Travel Service, all the while journeying around the world and becoming a popular agent on the island. Audrey’s ability to help her clients was based on her friendly service and knowledge gained from her own extensive travel experience. She remained active in the business for more than 25 years, until retirement. Never one to languish, Audrey then worked at the Oak Bluffs Town Hall part-time until her health began to diminish.
Audrey was a charter member of the Martha’s Vineyard branch of the NAACP, and served for many years as the organization’s treasurer. She cared passionately about social justice, and always spoke up and got involved whenever she was able.
To Audrey, friends and family meant everything. She had many of both, because of her open and friendly nature. She introduced the magic of travel to her family, and in later years enjoyed wonderful cruises with her children.
In her final years, Audrey was a peaceful resident of Windemere, where she loved to watch the Steamship ferries from her window while building a jigsaw or reading a juicy Harlequin romance. She especially loved the surprise of summer treats like ginger ice cream or a Chilmark Chocolate or two or three when she could get them.
Audrey is survived by her children, Anthony Alleyne of Oak Bluffs and Vanessa Alleyne of Montclair, N.J.; her granddaughters, Kimberly Alleyne, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Alexandra Alleyne of Montclair; two great-granddaughters, Antoinette Alleyne and Ariana Alleyne, of Virginia Beach, and a host of cousins young and old in New York and New Jersey.
In keeping with Audrey’s wishes, a service to celebrate her life will be held at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven. Details on date and time are being finalized, and will be posted on the website of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home (www. ccgfuneralhome.com). Her cremated remains will be scattered privately.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations honoring Audrey’s life be made to Windemere Foundation, or the Martha’s Vineyard Hospice Program, both of which helped immeasurably to comfort and sustain her and her family during the most difficult of times.