Antoinette Maynard ~ F-Faculty 1968 – 1969
Departed ~ 12/15/2018
Antoinette LeBris Maynard
September 9, 1923-December 15, 2018
Antoinette Françoise LeBris was born in Paris, France on September 9, 1923 to René and Lucie LeBris, who owned and operated a small hotel with café on the ground floor and room upstairs. Her sister Nicole was 18 months older. Unfortunately, due to complications from nerve gas exposure in World War I, René passed away in 1925. The young girls were sent to live with Lucie’s parents on a farm in Liernolles, France. Lucie arranged for Antoinette to be looked after by a “nurse” who also assisted the local Catholic priest and was a town scribe reading and writing letters for villagers.
On a vacation in Normandy, Lucie had met a woman, named Eugenie, who had learned English from British soldiers in WWI. She offered Eugenie a job at the hotel as a housekeeper and translator, which proved providential. After the American Impressionist Maurice Prendergast’s death in 1924, his brother Charles and friends came to stay at Lucie’s hotel on a memory tour of the places in Europe that Maurice had painted. Eugenie drove them around and Charles became quite smitten, but she refused to return to America with him. After corresponding with each other, Eugenie finally agreed and became Eugenie Prendergast living in Westport, CT.
When Antoinette was 12, she and Nicole went to Paris to live with their mother. Antoinette had been practicing her English by writing letters to the Prendergasts. After the death of a close friend and fellow artist who had a heart attack and died when Charles told him a joke, Charles became very melancholy. Antoinette’s letters and their cute mistakes made him laugh again, so they invited her to come visit for a summer. But she still had one year of school and her Baccalaureate to pass. Lucie said if they invited her again after finishing her school, she could go to America. Thus, in 1939, 15 year old Antoinette boarded a ship bound for New York to see the World’s Fair.
1939 was a big year in Europe with the start of the Second World War and Antoinette’s ship was sunk in Marseilles stranding her in the US. The Prendergasts took responsibility for her, helped her get winter clothes from their friends in New York’s Garment District, and got her into a private school to learn fluent English and finish her education American style. It was there that she met her best friend for life, Carol Ann Crotty, who had learned French in Switzerland while being treated for tuberculosis of the bones.
During the war, there were many people who stepped up to help stranded Europeans in America. After graduating from high school, Antoinette received a full scholarship to Sweet Briar College in Virginia. When she graduated from Sweet Briar, she was offered a job in the Pentagon working with maps and military movements. There she met a Naval Officer named Paul John Maynard.
Paul and Antoinette were married in 1945 and in 1948 their first daughter, Elizabeth (Libby) was born. Lucie had come to live with the young family in 1952. In 1954 daughter Carol was born. The family moved from Morrison Street in NW Washington to Western Avenue two blocks from Connecticut Avenue and the Chevy Chase Circle. About that time, with Lucie taking care of the girls, Antoinette started working at the Library of Congress as a descriptive cataloger in the Romance languages. She loved working with people from many countries and diverse cuisines as one of her passions was cooking. She led the Library Cooking Club for many years.
In 1960, Paul joined the US Agency for International Development as a Program Officer. His first assignment was Vientiane, Laos. So, the family packed up and rented the house. Paul went ahead first with the rest to follow. Unfortunately, the day he arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, the three Lao Princes decided to have a civil war, so he couldn’t make it to his post. The family also couldn’t join him, so they made the best of living in the house with minimal furniture, etc., for a year. Finally in 1961, the State Department allowed them to travel to Bangkok. On the way, they stopped in Paris, Rome, Athens, Cairo, and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
After a year in Bangkok, the family was finally allowed to go to Vientiane. Meanwhile, at 40 years old, Antoinette became pregnant with her son, Philip. Paul insisted that they had to go back to the States for Philip to be born, in case he wanted to be President. The family spent 1963-64 in Washington, while Paul returned to Bangkok to start the Southeast Asian office of ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) before the Vietnam war.
Reunited once again in Bangkok, the family stayed there until 1969. Antoinette taught French and History at the International School of Bangkok, and later at the American School of Vientiane. As the Vietnam war wound down, Paul transferred back to USAID and was stationed in Laos again. After Paul retired in 1977, the family lived in Bangkok for a year before returning to Washington.
Antoinette was welcomed back to the Library of Congress.. In the intervening time, computers had become common and in order to do her job, she had to master the Library’s system, which she conquered! She loved working at the Library of Congress and all the wonderful friends she had there. Her goal was to retire at 80 years old.
Unfortunately, Paul suffered a stroke in 2000 and the three children decided it would be best to move Paul and Antoinette close to Carol near Erie, PA. Paul died in 2003 from Alzheimer’s disease. For the first time in her life, Antoinette lived alone in her house, even though it was 100 yards from Carol’s house, she was unhappy alone. She found a wonderful independent living facility on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, MD where she had many friends.
She stayed for several years, until it was determined that her memory was degrading and she moved to a nursing facility near Philip in McLean, VA. Carol moved to Asheville, NC in 2012 and found a facility with a special memory care unit where Antoinette was content living in her happy memories until she passed December 15, 2018 with Philip by her side.
Antoinette will be remembered as a charming and gracious person. She cared deeply for her family and worked hard to provide the best life for them, and in turn, was proud of their accomplishments. She especially loved her grandchildren and delighted in them.
Antoinette was preceded in death by René and Lucie LeBris, Paul Maynard, sister Nicole and brother-in-law Stanilas de Gozdawa Godlewski. She is survived by daughters Libby and Carol, son Philip, grandchildren Kayleigh Ross, Alyssa Maynard, Claire (Chris) Barber-Stetson, and Nick (Ridhi) Barber, and great granddaughter Zoë Stetson
Antoinette’s ashes will be inurned with Paul’s at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date and a memorial ceremony will be held in Washington, DC.
A Little French Village”
Made By:Antoinette LeBris (Maynard)
A Little French Village
Essay written by Antoinette LeBris (Maynard) describing her home village in France, the effects of World War II on it, and her longing to see it again.
Date:October 22, 1940
10 1/2 x 8 in. (26.7 x 20.3 cm)
Credit Line:Williams College Museum of Art, Prendergast Archive and Study Center, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast
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