Flora Adelaide (Coury) Azar, 92, died in Naples, Florida on Tuesday November 29, 2022. She was born on March 26, 1930 and was a fraternal twin; the youngest daughters of the late Antoine and Mabel (Zeadey) Coury of Lebanon and New Bedford, Massachusetts.
She was a graduate of Holy Family High School where she excelled, made many life-long friends, and was a cheerleader. She was married to her beloved friend and late husband of 68 years, George E. Azar, on November 24, 1951 at Saint Anthony of the Desert Maronite Catholic Church in Fall River, after their 3-year courtship. She lived her life in New Bedford, Dartmouth, and moved to Naples, FL in 2016.
Flora enjoyed several successful career positions and lived a very rich and public life for many years, first as the sole proprietor of the locally-famed Clau-Jàn Boutique which sold only one-of-a-kind sample designer dresses and internationally-sourced fashion accessories, by appointment. She served as the national secretary to the Association of Arab American University Graduates (AAUG). She was a city administrator for the division of Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) of New Bedford, and later ran for public office and was elected as an Assessor to the New Bedford City Tax Assessor’s Office where she became the first female City Assessor and Chairperson of that Board. She was later appointed to the Bristol County Treasurer’s Office as First Assistant to the Treasurer and retired from that position. She was a trailblazer during a time when women rarely served as elected officials or in executive positions. She ran her own Property Appraisal Service and was often hired as a property evaluation expert for high profile court proceedings involving residential, commercial, and industrial properties. She was a realtor for Towne House Realty for many years. In her retirement, she volunteered for numerous charitable and artistic organizations, and was a part-time clerk for the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.
Flora lived an active life of deep love, great joy, and faith. She was a life-long and dedicated parishioner of Our Lady of Purgatory Church of New Bedford but was well-known and maintained many friendships throughout all the Maronite Catholic churches up and down the East Coast, and across the nation. She was a featured dancer at many NAM Conventions. In 1994, she and her husband George were awarded the Silver Massabki Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed on Maronite Catholics; presented to select parish members who make valued contributions of time, talent, and treasure in their parish communities.
Flora’s passion was in giving and in serving the needs of others, as well as sharing her well-honed talent of Lebanese traditional folkloric dance, costuming, and traditions both locally, regionally, and nationally. She pioneered cultural awareness and diversity events before these terms were coined or their social value recognized. Her dance solos won many cultural and entertainment awards, and her trophies include several awards from the Festival of Nations. Her dance troupes were recognized in many publications and, chances are, you or someone you knew was taught dance by Flora – she was a natural entertainer and loved the arts. She was a regular performer at the former Southeastern Massachusetts University’s Eisteddfod Festival and she was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Flora’s life was featured in the world-wide publication of Aramco Magazine, written in both English and Arabic. She visited Lebanon several times, travelling throughout the Middle East, and although she was a first generation American and proud American patriot, she was a self-taught fluent speaker and writer of Lebanese and Arabic dialects.
She was an advocate for children, most notably those with learning disabilities and, prior to Massachusetts’ Title V educational grants, she was a regular speaker on the floor of the Massachusetts Legislature where she aggressively lobbied for Chapter 766 special education for elementary students with learning disabilities, and which later became known as the Massachusetts Special Education Law.
She had a strong character and sensitivity to those less fortunate; she loved with such depth that she carried many family members, friends, and even strangers in their times of need, bringing many into her home to live during their struggles. She respected and loved people of all walks of life. She especially loved giving gifts and her smile was infectious. Her heart was filled with joy and Christ-like kindness, and she found ways to share her talents, her love, and her abundance throughout her earthly days.
Flora was always a style-maven. Not only was she a successful business woman, professional, public figure and entertainer, she was a fashionista of the highest order and could always be spotted wearing a gorgeous, glamorous headpiece or hat; she owned a collection of all shapes, sizes and colors to compliment her perfect look. Her favorite was the “fascinator” but she donned everything from daring turbans to structured cocktail hats, sassy pillbox styles and elaborate sun hats, to her daily newsboy hats - each embellished with sparkling pins, feathers or flowers.
Flora was named perfectly - she loved nature and her favorite colors were yellow and orange because they were “joyful” and “happy.” She loved puzzles and word games, and she was an expert at the most challenging Crossword puzzles, enjoying them each morning over coffee. She was also a whiz at expert level Sudoku and word Jumbles. She was an avid sports lover in her early years and exercised throughout her life, riding her yellow bike until she passed. She loved to laugh and found the ocean to be calming and a deep source of peace – her favorites were Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven MA, Onset Beach in Wareham MA, and the Gulf Shores of Marco Island, and Naples FL.
She was entirely committed to her family and loved them with all abandon. She was a cherished gift to those who knew her - a compassionate and giving soul, an empath, a truthsayer, a hard-working self-made success, daughter, sister, aunt, mother, wife, and friend who loved deeply, gave generously, and had a boat load of fun while dancing through life’s joys, as well as its trials. She lived gratefully, and she cherished her faith, her country, her community, and her family, and she was dedicated to any good she could bring to the world and those in it. She had a deep faith in Jesus Christ and sought to emulate Christ’s deep kindness – she loved the Lord and strived to live her life in the example of His two greatest commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul; and love they neighbor.
She is predeceased by her beloved late husband George, and she leaves behind two grateful daughters, Janine M. Azar and Claudette A. Azar-Kenyon and her beloved son-in-law who was truly a son to her, Dr. Louis P. Kenyon, all of Naples, FL. She also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, godchildren and friends whom she loved deeply.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her memory to the Avow Hospice Foundation, at 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105-3847 and Flora would hope that you would do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for some poor unfortunate soul in her name, to always remember to find meaningful ways to bring God’s mercy and love to our wounded world and, of course, to DANCE!
Her Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday December 6th at 10 AM at Our Lady of Purgatory Church. A private family burial will take place in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Visiting hours will be held on Monday December 5th from 4-7 PM at the Saunders-Dwyer Home for Funerals, 495 Park St., New Bedford. For online condolence book, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.