Madeleine Lyon Davenport

 

Madeleine Lyon Davenport            Born Dec. 02, 1922           Died March 22, 2010

This website has been created so the family, friends and loved ones who could not attend her funeral can see the loving send off we gave our mother.

 

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This wall hanging was displayed at Trinity Lutheran Church of North Bethesda, where a Lutheran funeral service and holy communion were conducted.  












Flowers were sent from "across the pond" in loving memory of their big sister by Mom's four surviving sisters, Jackie, Nicole, Ginette, and Coco.

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Arlington National Cemetery








Together forever

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Pictures taken at the church, including the luncheon afterward March 31, 2010

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This document was inserted in the church program for the funeral service conducted on March 31, 2010
Madeleine Lyon Davenport, 
December 2, 1922 – March 22, 2010

Our mother was an extraordinary woman.  She was the first born daughter of her Alsatian family in northern France, named Madeleine in keeping with a tradition several generations old.  She was the second child of 8.  Often called upon to be deputy mother, Mom learned leadership and persuasion skills early in life.  And used them time and again, not the least of which was to make us strong and independent women - with hopefully a bit of French flair.  

She excelled in school – always #1 at academics and tutor of many.  She was fluent in 6 languages – there were many family laughs and smiles when she and sisters told tales in the Alsatian dialect, a combination of lyrical French and harsh German.  Later in life, she became a champion scrabble player and started every day with a crossword.   She was intrigued by words and proud of being a linguist, but was also incredibly fast at math.  She taught us and her grandchildren to appreciate language and learning. 

World War II started when Mom was away at the university in Aix en Provence and so her time there was cut short – but not before some of what she called adventures, such as being crammed into the dormitory attics without heat because the Vichy government took over the building and dodging bullets while going to and from classes.  She returned to Alsace, a home they were soon forced to abandon and move south, a long trek to St. Raphael on the southern coast, with other refugees and much strafing by German planes which they handled with aplomb.  Her father, a civil engineer, joined the French Resistance and was captured and sent to Buchenwald and escaped at the end of the war to return home.  As a radio repairman for the Germans, he would fix them to break soon in order to hear and report on the news.  He returned home a quieter man.

Mom in the meantime, had joined a group of women supporting the war effort, FFI (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur).  At one point she was stranded in Marseille and needed to find work to support herself.  Being proficient in English French and German, she decided to make contact with the American forces based there to get some form of translating work. It seems that she was interviewed by a handsome US Army Captain who rattled away in his incomprehensible American accent for a time. After a while she stopped him, looked him straight in the eye, and said  “sorry I can’t understand a word you are saying”. Despite this lack of understanding the Captain, one JC Davenport, gave her a job, and later married her. And the rest is history.

Their ceremony, celebrating the end of war and a new beginning, was quite an affair, lasting three days and being reported on the front page of Stars and Stripes.  A good time was had by the family, villagers, and lieutenants – whom the new Mrs. Davenport eventually became mother-hen to.  They were stationed in Germany where Madeleine was born, then Sacramento, California where Jacki was born, then New Jersey, then back to Europe ending in Verdun, where Christine was born.   They returned to the states permanently in 1955.  

Along with raising 3 children, Madeleine founded and led garden clubs, played bridge avidly and winningly, and was a grey lady volunteer at hospitals.  On a very small budget, she was a great and inventive homemaker.  She had some wonderfully unique teaching methods – one summer we three girls had to alternate at being mother for a day and were responsible for everything – cooking, cleaning, child minding.  The next summer we had to do all manner of sewing, knitting, crocheting, needle pointing during the afternoon hours. 

Upon retirement from the military, the family moved to Maryland, purchasing the Walnut Woods home in 1968.  Finally, after 27 moves, Mom was getting to put down roots.  Here she became an award winning landscape designer and flower arranger.  She founded the garden club and led the purchase and planting of all the street side cherry trees.  She joined the Trinity Lutheran church and provided the altar flowers for more than a decade.  And continued to play bridge with friends and to raise funds for charity.  She has consistently supported the native American schools because of her strong feelings about what they were owed.  After Dad’s second retirement, in 1977, she got her first paid job in the U.S. – working at the renown Doll’s House Museum in Chevy Chase – and keeping them organized.

She became grandmother to 5 – Jhon, Sydney, Melody, Maxine, and Madeleine – enjoying them immensely, encouraging them to meet and best challenges, and being very proud of their accomplishments.  She cared for them, played with them, taught them to bake pies, play scrabble, and to save pennies.  

She made us all smile – with that very special twinkle in her eye – whether from speaking French with an immigrant, walking along a beach, making 3 no trump at bridge, finishing a meal with crème brulee and espresso, meeting one of our beaus, planting the first annuals of the season, or attending graduations.

We will miss and honor our extraordinary mother.  And thank all her friends for what you gave and for being here today.
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Pastor Roger Berner  shows Madeleine Disario some needpoint that her mother Madeleine Davenport had done for the church. 













Guests dine on French baguettes, jambon, cheeses, salads, fruit, wine and desserts. 

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Neighbors Inge and Maureen

 

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Pastor Berner with Christine Grewell

 

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Guests and family share a fond rememberance of Mom with Pastor Berner

At Arlington National Cemetery, on April 1, 2010, the honor guard awaits

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Soldiers carry our mother to her grave.

And gently place her coffin on the bier.

Pastor Berner conducts the graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery.

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We say good-bye to our mother and grandmother.