WAYLAND: Aubrey Fletcher, 96, died on Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Wayland, Massachusetts, where he had lived since May 2005.
Mr. Fletcher was born October 21, 1921, and raised in London. He left school at the age of 14 and got his first job, at 10 shillings a week. At the outset of World War II in 1939 he enlisted in the British Army (a month before his 18th birthday). The following year he saw service in France, where he was wounded and awarded the British equivalent of the Purple Heart. In 1944 he was posted to the British Army Staff in Philadelphia to administer the Lend-Lease program. He and a colleague were billeted at the Merion Cricket Club until his discharge in 1946 with the rank of Captain.
During his service with the Royal Army on the Main Line, Aubrey earned the attention and respect of a club member who referred him to C. Tennant & Sons, a major international trading company in New York, where, over the next 30 years, he ascended the ranks to become executive vice president and a member of the board. This was also where he met the love of his life, Mary Jo Baxter. They married in March 1949 after a whirlwind courtship and soon after moved to Rio de Janeiro, where Aubrey established and supervised a new branch for the company. Their first child, Alison, was born there.
In light of his effective efforts in Rio, Aubrey and his family, now with a son, Jere, were sent by Tennant to open an office and to live in Lima, Peru. They thrived and, in addition to the Portuguese that he had learned in Brazil, Aubrey acquired facility with Spanish, language abilities that he maintained throughout his life. He became a US citizen in 1953.
After their early years abroad, Aubrey and Mary Jo returned to the United States and settled in New Canaan, Connecticut, where another daughter, Cameron, and second son, Rod, were born. Aubrey commuted to Tennant in Manhattan, where his responsibilities included supervision and administration of 12 overseas subsidiaries and entailed considerable worldwide travel, usually for 3–5 weeks at a time. Over the years he went to Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Chile, Argentina, Hungary, Japan, and China, among others. Mary Jo, an avid traveler, was thrilled to accompany him on many of these trips and decorated their home with treasures from numerous countries. Between travel for work and, later, for pleasure, Aubrey visited 50 countries in all!
As an internationally recognized authority on world trade in metals and ores, mine productions, and similar raw materials, Aubrey acted frequently as an advisor to the US State Department, Federal Trade Commission, and other US agencies, and was called on to testify in Washington on pending legislation before committees of the US House and Senate. He also advised the UN Commission on Trade and Development and represented the United States at UN trade meetings in Geneva and Mexico. He was a member of the board of governors of the New York Commodity Exchange. He became an executive for Cargill, Inc. when Cargill acquired Tennant.
When he retired in 1984, he and Mary Jo moved to Durham, North Carolina, where Aubrey was very active in a number of volunteer nonprofit activities. His leadership of the Executive Service Corps of the Greater Triangle set the standard and was heralded in a news story years after he had left the organization and the area. He also volunteered with the International Visitors Council and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth, and success of small business.
In addition to travel, Aubrey enjoyed history, music, dancing, culture, language, bridge, golf, and tennis. He maintained an excellent memory of his life’s adventures, his interest in politics and his sense of humor, and took pleasure in reciting from poems he learned as a schoolboy and resurrecting old British Army songs otherwise lost to history. As he often acknowledged when reflecting on his experiences and accomplishments, “I really have had a remarkable life.”
Mary Jo died in December 2004 and Aubrey moved to Traditions in Wayland, to be closer to his grandchildren. He is survived by Alison, Jere, Cameron, and Rod and his wife Barb; grandchildren Whitney, Morgan, Taylor, and Jack; and his sister Maureen.
A Celebration of Aubrey’s Life will be held on Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 4:00 o’clock in the Great Room at Traditions of Wayland, 10 Green Way, Wayland, Massachusetts.