Audrey Mary Lovell, a British war bride who moved to Pennsylvania with her family in 1964, passed away at age 90 on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, at her home in Montgomery after a brief illness. She was surrounded by her family.
Known for her adventurous spirit and love of travel, Audrey flew to England last year to visit family and friends in Norththumbria, Norfolk, and Essex, and then, this summer, to California to participate in a grandson's wedding aboard a San Francisco Bay cruise ship.
Born in the picturesque village of Clavering in Essex, England, on Feb. 27, 1922, Audrey Mary Caton graduated from Hertfordshire & Essex High School in 1939. At 17, she took a job with the telephone company in Cambridge. With skirt tucked under her, "like the French girls," Audrey bicycled the 12 miles of winding country roads to and from the train that would take her to work.
Audrey Mary Lovell (1922-2012)
Audrey's memories of wartime Britain were still vivid. It was a time of air raids, strict government rationing, and, of course, "stiff upper lips." "Standing on a hill at a friend's farm, I could see the docks burning along the Thames," she recalled.
As the air war spread out from London, the people of Clavering became more than curious observers. Audrey and a girlfriend, on a Sunday outing, dived for the nearest ditch when a German plane began dropping incendiary bombs. "I was really upset because I got a runner in my stocking," she laughed, "you could only get nylons on the black market then."
In June 1944, after the Normandy Invasion, an American Liberator bomber on its way to the front, crash landed near Audrey's family cottage. A 500-pound bomb broke free of the wreckage, skipped across the Caton garden, and ended up, unexploded, in the road at the foot of the front steps. Miraculously, no member of the flight crew was killed, though the Caton kitchen was flattened while her mother and brother who were in another part of the cottage narrowly escaped injury.
In 1942, Audrey met American Army Cpl. Lester Lovell from Williamsport at a local dance, and while jitterbugging to the swing sounds of Glenn Miller, she was literally swept off her feet. Two years later they were married. Audrey and Lester had five children, born in England, Germany, New York City and Muncy.
Sgt. Lester Lovell was a dedicated career soldier, and it fell to Audrey, who spoke French, to pack up household and children every time he was assigned to a new military base. This she did with quiet fortitude and keen anticipation of the challenges that lay ahead. Her advice to her children: "Try to keep a cheerful outlook, even if things are not perfect."
Audrey had fond memories of time spent in Paris and Metz, France; New York (on Governors Island); Kentucky; New Jersey; Texas; Louisiana; and Arkansas.
In 1964, upon Lester's retirement from the military, Audrey moved to Montgomery, where, from 1965 to 1979, she worked at the Montgomery Mills. She joined the First United Methodist Church and remained a devoted member of the congregation until her death. Lester, the love of her life, passed away on Dec. 14, 1981.
An avid reader, Canasta and Scrabble player, Audrey also enjoyed gardening, knitting, and attending Montgomery and Muncy Senior Citizens functions. She derived her greatest pleasure, however, from the time spent with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She recently summed up her life's work by saying, "My children are my greatest achievement."
Audrey is survived by her brother, John Caton of Roughton, Norfolk, England; her children: John (Audrey Nieson) of Albany, N.Y.; Glenn (Donna) of San Jose, Calif.; Rosalind Allen (Derwood) of Allenwood; Sharon Murphy (C. Allen) of Milton; and David (Melinda) of Montgomery. She is also survived by eleven grandchildren: Lisa Lovell Ayres (Edward), Christopher Allen, Michelle Saxman (Adam), Jillian Bickhart (John), Jason Murphy (Jessica), Andrew Lovell (Courtney), Hannah Lovell, Ashlea Lovell, Michael Greenberg, Naomi Greenberg, and Dan Goldberg; and six great-grandchildren: Brian Saxman, Logan Murphy, Hadyn Dixon, Lliam Murphy, Ryan Bickhart, and Emma Bickhart; and her beloved cat, Molly.
A celebration of her life will be held Monday, Dec. 17, at the First United Methodist Church at 41 W. Houston Ave., Montgomery, with Pastor Virginia Bailey officiating. Burial will be held at Green Lawn Memorial Park, Rt. 15, Montgomery. Funeral arrangements will be provided by the Galen R. Betzer Funeral Service of Muncy. www.betzerfuneral.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions in her name be made to either the Montgomery First United Methodist Church or the Susquehanna Health Hospice.
Submitted by family.