St. John Loses Longtime Resident

Rene Army photoSt. John recently lost a longtime resident. Marty Beechler asked us to pass this along to all of you…

Rene A. Servant, 90, died on September 30, 2015 at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas of natural causes. He loved to laugh and could always make you smile.

Rene was born in Malakoff, France on July 6, 1925. He was an only child and with his parents moved to Chevy Chase, MD at the age of one. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson HS in Washington, DC in 1943 and from the University of Wisconsin in 1949 with a B.S. in Physical Education.

Rene enlisted in the US Army Air Force as an Aviation Cadet on July 2, 1943 and received an Honorable Discharge from the 2509th AAF Base Unit on November 8, 1945.

On a trip back to France after college, Rene decided to learn the hair-dressing business, like his father. While there, he met his future wife, Marie Therese Louisa Legeai, known to her friends and family as “Mimi”. They were married in September 1950 at LeMans, France. They discovered when they applied for a marriage license that both their birthdays were on July 6, though Mimi was 7 years younger. She predeceased Rene in 2007 after 56 years of marriage.

The couple moved to Bethesda, MD where their their first son, Gaston, was born on July 8, 1951. Rene eventually took over the family business from his father and became the sole proprietor of “Gaston of Paris” salon. Rene and Mimi traveled to Puerto Rico for a convention and while on a day trip to St. John fell in love with the island. They decided to move to St. John after tragedy struck the family when their second son, Christopher was hit by a car and died at age 14. They bought property in Coral Bay in 1971 and started building their home in 1974 and moved to St. John permanently in 1978.

Once settled on St. John, Rene was recruited by Inga Hiilivirta, the founder of Islandia Real Estate, and Realtor Cees DeGraff while at a party. Rene became a very successful Realtor, real estate speculator and investor during his 25 year career with Islandia. Rene was well known around Coral Bay especially by the youngsters when he blew the air-horn on his Jeep which happened to play the French National Anthem, “La Marseillaise”. On January 1, 2007 Rene decided to retire but he still kept up on all the latest real estate news. Rene loved the sea, was an excellent swimmer and both he and Mimi also enjoyed snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing and hiking.

He leaves his son, Gaston R. Servant (64) a resident of Coral Bay, and two nieces on Mimi’s side, Elise Colaze and Christine Colaze, and Christine’s two sons, Ronan and Julian, all of whom reside in France. Like his dear wife Mimi, Rene’s wishes were to be cremated, with some of the ashes spread in the Caribbean Sea and the rest interred in the family plot in Maryland.

4 thoughts on “St. John Loses Longtime Resident”

  1. May Rene’s journey be short to eternal paradise.

    Since the internet has become a part of all of our lives it always amazes me how small the world has become. My father and Rene probably knew each other in high school. Dad was in the class of 44 at Woodrow Wilson.

    I did not know Rene, but my wife and I have been coming to the island since 1979 and his love for the island is easy to understand.

    Gaston and family – thoughts and prayers.

  2. Dear Gaston,
    30 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting your parents. I was camping in Maho Bay and looking at real estate. After showing some property they invited my companion and I to go for a walk the next day and then dinner. I had no idea the “walk” would be a four hour hike along rocky shores and up and down mountains. It was one of the best days of my life. Your parents were two of the most amazing people I have ever met

  3. Dear Gaston and family,

    I was a Purdue University art student completing a summer internship at R & I
    Patton Jewlers in 1979 when my Aunt and Uncle( Mansfield’s) first introduced me to your parents.
    The following year my husband and I spent our two week honeymoon just down the mountain from your folks. We spent an amazingly beautiful day with them when they asked us to go “hiking”. We ended up walking out to an abandoned shipwreck that was put on the rocks as a result of Hurricane David. By that time it was up for salvage rights and your sweet father decided he would like to have the rudder off of this huge skeleton ship! We were more than game and when we started cutting the the solid brass strapping to remove it, the water was ankle deep. By the time we finally floated it free, we were diving under water to cut the final strapping! Your dad and my husband Brad worked hours while your mom and I gather bits and pieces of the mahogany mast and small odds and ends. We floated the rudder with our other prizes back to shore by dragging it with a rope! We were cold and hungry and spent beautiful evening with them at the house. They certainly added to my lifelong love of antiques. Several months after we returned to Indiana, we received a picture of the rudder, now converted to a beautiful table by your parents! I pray that you happen to read this…..my Aunt and Uncle ‘s home was virtually destroyed just two years ago by the huricane. My cousins are in the process of rebuilding their parents island home….in the 80’s, our family’s home and your folks were the nearest to each other neighbors. We cherish our memories of our time with Rene’ and Mimi….we have some great pictures in a box somewhere…..but our memories of your parents and the adventure they shared with us are precious forever. We wish you well and hope that you now have a strangely “whale” shaped table with brass straps and now know how it came home.
    Great blessings, Kay and Brad Montes
    March 27, 2019

Leave a Comment