A TRIBUTE TO A WOMAN WHO EPITOMIZED
MOTHERHOOD AND COMMUNITY SERVICE
“AUDREY WAS EVERYWHERE”
On April 11, 1918, Audrey Mc Coy was the second of four children born to Jettie and Willie Mc Coy in a small town called De Ridder Ward 3, in Beauregard, Louisiana. By 1930, the Mc Coy family had moved to Houston, Texas where Audrey completed her education. She was graduated from Yates High School and as the Valedictorian of her class. As an ambitious young woman, she was determined to continue her education. She attended Texas Southern University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and became a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Audrey was a serious believer in education and kept herself informed about the current developments in her profession. She furthered her training at UCLA and USC in Childhood Education, Counseling and Guidance.
While Audrey was attending Texas Southern University, she met a dashing young man, Henry Quarles who was serving in the Army. Audrey McCoy and Henry Quarles were united in matrimony in 1942, and were happily married for 36 beautiful years until his untimely death in 1978.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Audrey and her family became members of the historic Second Baptist Church, where they were all active members. Over the years, she served as a Sunday School Teacher, A Youth Counselor, Baptist Youth Fellowship Counselor, Second Sunday Chairman of the Junior Church, and of the Family Co-operative Committee. She was active in several church auxiliaries: Henderson Community Center, Christian Women on the Move, Rites of Passage, and worked for many years in the Baptist Training Union. Audrey enjoyed attending the Henderson Bible Sunday School Class as well as fellowshipping with her StEM Group. It was a proud moment when the Quarles Family was named the Second Baptist Church Family of the year in 1959.
Audrey, a determined young woman, made up her mind that she was going to teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As a young black woman, she faced several obstacles, but with her determination and unwavering spirit; she was soon hired as an Elementary School Teacher. Throughout her career, Audrey was known for ensuring that every child in her classroom met his/her academic goals and culminated knowing the value of education.
Audrey taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 35 years and retired in June of 1988. She received several awards as an outstanding teacher. She was a passionate and enthusiastic teacher which spilled over onto her students. During her 35 years of teaching, many of her students returned to tell her that they pursued a career in education because of her. Her retirement party, which was a standing room only event, reflected the admiration that people had for her dedication towards educating children.
Audrey was a “Drum Major for Justice.” This was based in part on her understanding of the need for a strong economic and vibrant black community. Thus she became known as the “Community Activist” and “Volunteer Extraordinaire.” She belonged to many local and national organizations whose missions were to enhance the lives of all mankind. A few of the organizations that she was involved in include: Zeta Phi Beta, Twelve Big Sisters, NAACP (Life Time Member), Los Angeles Urban League, Black Women’s Forum, National Council of Negro Women, National Association of University Women, and National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Audrey was loved by many because they saw her commitment to this philosophy which was appropriately reflected when in 2004 when she was named by the Los Angeles Sentinels “Mother of the Year”. She was described as a person of “Quiet dignity dedication and success in any undertaking. Her ability to work with people in diverse endeavors and walks of life and boundless energy, has earned her a national reputation as a doer people solver and a resourceful and effective volunteer, whatever the cause. She’s truly perpetual motion personified, engaging in efforts, she states that are always for the “cause” and the greater good.”
Audrey also enjoyed volunteering and raising money for community organizations such as: UNCF, JENESSE Center, Brotherhood Crusade, Los Angeles Neighborhood Services, and March of Dimes. Audrey’s commitment to youth inspired her to be a founding member of Faustina Home for Girls, as well as the Stork’s Nest Thrift Shop, a project to raise funds for pregnant girls, and to encourage them to obtain prenatal care.
As part of the generation that experienced inequality, Audrey developed a passion to become involved with organizations that strived to bring about change. This led her to become involved with the 10th Councilmatic District Women’s Steering Committee, Los Angeles African American Women’s Political Action Committee, New Frontier Democratic Club, and Women for (Herb) Wesson. She was excited to be an elected member of the County Democratic Committee, representing the 48th Assembly District. In 1988, her involvement in politics led her to be elected as a delegate to the State Democratic Convention as well as the National Democratic Convention in Atlanta. She was also invited by special invitation and attended the inauguration of President Clinton.
Audrey was extremely proud to see the culmination of her and others’ efforts, that resulted in the nomination and eventual election of the first African American President of the United States of America; President Barrack Obama. At the age of 90, she made sure to be a part of history and attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver and was even seen on television. Over her lifetime, she has received numerous accolades and awards for her dedication and hard work in helping to make this world better for all mankind.
Although she was a hard worker, Audrey’s greatest joy was her family. She was a fun and gregarious mother and grandmother and loved to attend the many activities in which her grandchildren were involved. She was affectionately called “GiGi” by her grandchildren and they loved having her attend their events. She was quite adventurous and loved to travel. She enjoyed family vacations. In the early years, she loved to travel across the United States by car. She traveled to the National Parks, World Fairs, Zeta Boule’ and any convention you can think of. She also visited every continent. She was extremely proud to travel to the Holy Land and was baptized for a second time in the River Jordan.
On the morning of February 17, 2011, Audrey Jean Quarles was called from labor to rest. She is now resting in the loving arms of her heavenly Father. We know she entered the Pearly Gates and was greeted with love as she was told, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”
The lives that she touched with her compassion, love, dedication, sense of humor, and tireless effort will remain in our hearts forever.
Audrey leaves to cherish her memory her five children: Henry Wayne Jr. (Gail), Keith Darrell (Dianne), Pamela Denise, Stephanie Maureen (Keith), and Karen Lynn (William); eleven grandchildren Todd, Lance, Keith Jr. (Kira), Kregg, Dax (Zulekia), Bree, Kristin, Kamille, Jared, Jason, and Kaitlin, and four great grandchildren.