Lucy Hart Abbot, who died here in Oak Bluffs in 2009 at age 87, was an unusually nice person with an unusual nickname. Her brother Stanley Hart wrote that the parents nicknamed her Billy Lu, an amalgamation of their names, Bill and Lucy. A younger brother unable to pronounce the words called her Bideau and the sobriquet lasted. Comments commemorating her life came from around the world. Her Gazette obituary was entitled Bideau Abbot: Honest, Giving and True and in it, son Christopher shared that his mom was a lover of music, literature and art, and every house she owned was filled with all three.

In her 50s, Bideau traveled to England, took courses at Oxford University and bought a house there. Her grandson Sixten remembered surprising a UK passport inspector by her owning a house in Woodstock — with a passport listing her occupation as house cleaner. Another grandson, Jesse, learned about service, work and generosity from Bideau. Daughter Genevieve knew her mom as classy, strong and independent, loving of her children, caring about causes, generous, bright and beautiful. Grandson Seth remembered her extraordinary decency and “old Yankee values of modesty, frugality, charity, honesty and caring for the downtrodden.” The Rev. Father David Bradley wrote from the UK, “My house is your house was her welcome whenever we visited the Vineyard. Whatever she had, she shared. This wonderful woman demonstrated the values that all of us should aspire to. . . she gave everything and asked no reward, never seeking praise for herself.” New Mexico’s Mary Jane O’Connor-Ropp said, “Bideau was a woman of deep integrity and humility who lived her Christian values . . . it was an honor to know her as her pastor.” Peter Becker of Port Angeles, Wash., shared a story when driving Bideau to her former winter home, after the sun had set and with the full Hunter’s moon, she had him turn off the lights and drive by the full moonlight.

Lucy Hart Abbot grew up in a family of means in Connecticut, accustomed to private school in Switzerland and summering in Harthaven. I came across her inadvertently through an article by C. K. Wolfson here in the Gazette in 2003 about her addressing the League of Woman Voters at Lola’s. My interest stemmed from having researched my f amily house on Pequot, I learned William H. Hart, the treasurer of Stanley Works, first owned our house built in 1872. He was Mrs. Abbot’s great-grandfather. Her grandfather was industrialist Howard Stanley Hart, founder of the first ball bearing company. Her father, William H. Hart, was president of Hart and Cooley. Following a divorce, Mrs. Hart moved to Harthaven in 1969 with her five children. When one brought home an African American friend whose band had disbanded and needed a place to stay, her father and relatives in the family enclave insisted that either he or they leave. They did, and Lucy Bideau Hart Abbot began life anew.

Bideau worked as a teacher, hostess, waitress, bartender and cleaning lady and yet found the means to contribute to countless organizations in cash and in kind. Her brother Stanley said, “From the day she left her so-called heritage, to the day she died, Bideau was proud of her convictions and proud of joining a racially integrated and open society. She was her own person for the rest of her life. She believed one lived with one’s fellow humans and not above them or apart from them.”

Happening across the article recently led me to find what happened to this wonderful lady. I discovered that my sister and I were playmates at the Inkwell with her daughter, our almost lifelong friend Martha Abbot. I met her mom before she died — and it took this long to find that Martha’s mom was the remarkable Lucy Bideau Hart Abbot!

Lucy Hart Abbot embodied the holiday season of giving in the purest sense — exuberantly, warmly and selflessly. She was another reason we should all be proud to be from OB, only looking down at someone to help them up. For the holidays I wish us all a warm Bideau, who helped provide peace on earth.

The Red Cat at Ken ‘n’ Beck is open Monday to Saturday for dinner at 5 p.m. if you’re here for the holidays. Tomorrow there is a Three Artist Collage Art Show reception at the library at 2 p.m. featuring David Atwood, Sondra Murphy and Tara Reynolds.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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