Gladys E. Desautell

Gladys Elizabeth (Fletcher) Desautell, formerly of East Greenwich, RI, passed away peacefully into eternal glory at Elmhurst Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center on June 16, 2020, at the blessed age of 95. She received excellent care as a resident for almost 12 years. Gladys was the daughter of the late Alexander and Rachel (Gustafson) Fletcher. Her husband, Linus E. Desautell, and only sibling, Marion (Fletcher) Becker, of Hamilton, MA. predeceased her.

Four children survive Gladys: Pamela R. (Clement) Miller, of Maryland; William H. Clement, of Texas; Elizabeth A. (Clement) Lussier, of RI; and Douglas E. Desautell, of MA.  She is survived by 13 grandchildren: Kristina Jones-Woods (MD), Sarah Mulford Martin (MD), Kari (Jones) Ritchey (MD), Jeffrey Miller (TX), Elizabeth A. (Clement) Barr (RI), Allison (Clement) Pachomski (CA), Kelly M. Clement (CA), William F. Clement (MA), Mary Catherine D. Clement (TX), Rachael E. Gustafson (VA), Douglas E. Desautell, Jr. (MA), Parker M. Desautell (MA), and Cameron F. Desautell (PA).  Gladys was also blessed with more than 15 great-grandchildren, the first being born in 1988!

Gladys, known for her expertise in primitive antiques as well as interior design, having studied at RISD, established her antiques’ business at the age of 18.  As a hobby, she and Linus purchased, restored, and resided with their family in more than 10 homes in RI - each now on the historic register. They were essentially pioneers of antique “house-flipping” in their time (late 1950’s – 70’s).  Gladys was an active member of the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society including the critical time when the Hill and Harbour District was being established.  Some of their most notable homes were in EG including the Brownbread Place c.1680 (Middle Road), the Gardner House c.1710 (High Hawk Farm), and their last residence, the Wightman House c.1740 (Shippee Road).  Together with their young family they purchased a home on Abbott Run Valley Road in Cumberland that the local fire department was going to burn down for practice.   When the restoration was complete it made the front page of the Providence Journal with the title, “Their Friends said, Burn It!”  It stands just as beautiful today.  Another notable restoration was the purchase of the Battey House in North Scituate (Battey Meeting House Road).  This home made it into Yankee Magazine when Linus penned and submitted the true story of lighting a fire in one of the 5 working fireplaces only to stir a massive colony of honey bees.  The honeycombs were so profuse that the honey covered the entire great-room floor and a bee-keeper had to come and move the entire hive to a new home!  Gladys and Linus were thrilled when they received a royalty of $50 for the story.  In another instance, they also cut down a Christmas tree in the Scituate Reservoir land nearby and dragged it home with their daughter’s pony, Smokey.  The State Police came calling the next day! Suffice it to say, there was never a dull moment in the Desautell home.

A private funeral will be held on Thursday, June 25 at Avery-Storti Funeral Home.  Gladys will be laid to rest with Linus at Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery.  A Memorial Service will be held in late fall to rejoice in Gladys’ life-long Christian journey of faith and to celebrate her “homecoming”. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society:  For guest book and condolences,

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