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Avery McLean Sylvester Craven

1928 2021

Should you desire to donate in Avery’s memory, please consider a donation to the Bedford Free Library, Bedford, New York, or to a charity of your choice.

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Avery Sylvester Craven, 93, longtime resident of Bedford, New York, died peacefully on December 19, 2021, at home in Fort Worth, Texas, surrounded by her family.

Avery McLean Sylvester was born on April 11, 1928, to Louis Hargett Sylvester and Gladys McAllister Green Sylvester, in Richlands, North Carolina.  There, Avery and her sister Alice and brothers Louis and Paul grew up in a music-filled home frequented by extended family and friends.  Avery had many wonderful memories of her childhood growing up in this small farming community not far from the ocean.  She grew up close to family and to the land, and her love for family, friends, nature, and beauty stayed with her all her life.

Avery graduated from Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C., where she majored in voice, minored in piano, and was admitted to the music honor society, Pi Kappa Lambda.  Following graduation, she moved to New York City to pursue her voice studies and to work at William Morrow publishing company as an assistant to the president.  While in New York, Avery met Donovan Craven, an executive at Alcoa, and they married in 1954.  In 1956 Avery and Don moved to Bedford, New York, where they raised two daughters. Avery and Don were married for 64 years until Don’s death in 2018.

They loved their life in Bedford, where they lived for more than six decades.  For years Avery shared her lovely voice with the Madrigal Singers and then with the Master Singers of Westchester.  She was an avid tennis player and made enduring friendships on the tennis and paddle tennis courts.  She volunteered in numerous capacities; one of them was as “the tree lady” who visited schools and taught the children to identify local trees.  Helping at the polls on Election Day and attending the village town hall meetings were activities indicating the importance she placed on citizen participation.  She was a great reader, especially of travel writings and memoir and of her beloved daily newspaper.  Avery shared her enthusiasm for her favorite authors, and often her letters included clippings of newspaper articles.  Even her cooking became a way for her to explore the world, and we remember the care she took to make her food delicious.  All of these interests and loves enriched her family and community, and we will carry in our hearts the vital energy of our loving, generous and smart mother and grandmother.

Avery is preceded in death by her husband, Donovan Craven; her parents, Louis and Gladys Sylvester; her sister, Alice Sylvester Cox, her brothers, Louis Sylvester and Paul Sylvester, and her brother-in-law, James L. Cox.

Avery is survived by her daughters, Mary Craven Kelly (Allan) and Catherine S. Craven, of Fort Worth, Texas; grandchildren, Catherine Kelly Ingalls (Jamie), of Chattanooga, TN, Avery Kelly and David Kelly, of Fort Worth; great-grandchildren, Rowan Ingalls and Benedict Ingalls; sister-in-law, Louise Sylvester Wilkins; and beloved nieces , nephews and cousins.

The family is grateful for the support and love shown especially in these later years for Avery; for the medical care given by beloved family members, Allan Kelly MD, his staff, and Robert Kelly MD; for the gentle care of Grace Eban and of St. Gabriel Hospice, and for the loving support of family and friends.