Mary Jean Davenport
November 11, 1917 - May 16, 2018
Mary Jean Davenport (née Savage) died peacefully, with family at her side, at her residence in Everett, Washington on 16 May 2018, at the age of 100.
Born on the Isle of Wight, England, third child of parents Wilfred George Savage and Mabel Daisy Webb, she spent her school years as a boarder at The Park School in Yeovil, Somerset, then attended the London College of Secretaries, graduating in 1937. During WWII she served in the Land Army, then the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a transport and staff car driver, at one point serving under Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris of Royal Air Force Bomber Command. During the war, she met her future husband Frank “Toni” Davenport, a professional opera singer in uniform in the RAF, who performed with Ralph Reader’s Gang Show entertaining British troops around the world. They married in 1942, first immigrated to the U.S. in 1949, and finally settled in Houston TX in 1954. Jean resumed her work as an executive secretary in hotel and advertising businesses while Toni taught voice. They retired to Austin TX in 1983. Toni preceded her in death in 1988. Despite receding memories in her final years, she never forgot a chance sitting in Sir Winston Churchill’s chair at Chequers during the war, the license tag number of her first car, or “the glorious voice” she fell in love with at a wartime concert.
Jean was the oil on the water of Toni’s sometimes tempestuous life, the willing sharer of his travels and adventures, and the amiable foil to his expansive humor. She went paragliding at 75 and motorcycle riding at 85, but gave up tennis at 89 and martinis at 94. She was accepting of the foibles of others and spoke kindly of all, but was disciplined in her own life and habits. And she particularly liked a garnish of parsley on the meals she served.
Jean is survived by her son Nicholas (& Barbara); daughter Joanna (& John Athey) of Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK; 5 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren. Jean trusted that fate would be kind to her and her family, and she was right. She served as an exemplar of a life well-lived, and survives in the fond memories of those who knew and loved her. Funeral arrangements are being provided by A Sacred Moment, of Everett WA. No U.S. services are planned, but recollections from friends will be gratefully received by her children at: Nickport@comcast.net or Joanna.Athey@gmail.com, or shared at www.asacredmoment.com/obituaries/.