Mary Audrey Whitehead, beloved wife of Leonard; adored mother of Connie Whitehead and Victoria Knight; and doting grandmother of Colin James Knight, passed away April 30, 2014. Audrey was born April 2, 1928, in Bluff City, Tennessee, to Cinda and William Stevens. The second of seven children, she was raised in Elizabethton, Tennessee, where she met and was wooed by Leonard. Subsequently, each moved to Detroit, Michigan, independently. Leonard found work in the booming post-war auto industry; Audrey, too, moved to Detroit, where she resided with her brother and his wife. Following a lengthy courtship, they were wed October 14, 1950, in Bowling Green, Ohio, and honeymooned in Canada. In 1951, she and Leonard welcomed Connie, the first of their two daughters and, shortly thereafter, moved to Pensacola, Florida.
Leonard found work with the Department of the Navy as a federal civil service employee. Audrey also continued to work until Connie began school in 1957. In 1958, Audrey and Leonard had a second daughter, Victoria. Audrey was a devoted and diligent wife and mother. She created a warm and loving home for her family. As her daughters grew, she became an accomplished seamstress to meet their burgeoning fashion needs. Her home also served as a way station for her many sisters as they moved to the area, married, and started their own families. She was the quintessential "big sister", offering love and support to Rosa Lee, Sue, Grace, and Loretta in turn.
In the 1970s, she started her own florist business that specialized in weddings, providing beautiful memories for many Pensacola brides. After leaving that field, she continued to explore her talents and, along with Leonard and Victoria, founded Laurel Tree Creations in the 1980s producing handcrafted painted wood designs.
The highlight of Audrey's life, however, was when she became a grandmother. Colin James Knight was born on February 19, 1993, and that marked the beginning of the happiest time of Audrey's life. She and Leonard became part-time caregivers for Colin while his parents worked. She got to cosset and spoil her beloved grandson to her heart's content. She and Colin both flourished during this time. She had the privilege and joy of being an active part of his life for 21 years.
Approximately 4 years ago, Audrey was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Shortly thereafter, she became a resident of the Specialty Center nursing facility on Pine Forest Road in Pensacola. During her stay there, she was attended regularly by her daughters and husband, who split caregiving duties among themselves, spending part of each day with her for the entire period of her stay. She was also the recipient of remarkable caregiving by the staff at the center, who doted on her and called her the "sweetest" resident they'd ever had. The family thank all of the staff that provided the wonderful care that made her last 4 years a little happier.
Audrey was a devout Christian, and a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination, attending Westwood Christian Church in Pensacola. She was also a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the White Shrine.
Audrey was loved dearly and will be missed by those who were blessed to have known her. She is survived by Leonard, her husband of 63 years; her daughter Connie Whitehead of Kennesaw, Georgia; her daughter and son-in-law Victoria and Jim Knight of Pensacola; her adored grandson Colin, also of Pensacola; and her cherished poodle, Chestnut. She also is survived by two of her sisters, Sue Smith and Grace Hamilton (both of Pensacola). She leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews who remember her fondly. We all feel her loss tremendously and know how lucky we were to have had her in our lives.
A visitation with reception will be held at Bayview Fisher-Pou Chapel on Monday, May 05, 2014, from 11am to noon. The funeral service will be held at noon in the chapel, with burial to follow at Bayview Memorial Park. Bayview Fisher-Pou Chapel has been entrusted with arrangements.
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