Gladys Mabel Lawton Wordell

Gladys Mabel Lawton Wordell

1914 – 1993

Gladys Mabel Lawton Wordell. Courtesy of Caroline Wilkie Wordell.

Gladys Mabel Lawton Wordell was born in Westford, MA, on July 18, 1914, the oldest child of Luther Lawton and Ruth Mullen Lawton. The family would also include a son, Paul. Gladys started her education in Westford schools, spent some time at the Luther School in Swansea, Ma., and completed three years at Durfee High School.  When Gladys was seven years old her father contracted tuberculosis.  He had to sleep in a tent on the grounds of the family home and Gladys remembered sleeping in the tent with him.  Some of her fondest memories of him before his illness were accompanying him with her brother Paul on horse-drawn rides into town to sell their vegetables and fruits.

Gladys Mabel Lawton Wordell as a baby. Courtesy of Caroline Wilkie Wordell.

Luther passed away in 1922, and the 1930 census finds the family living in Fall River with Gladys’ maternal grandparents, Everett and Leonora Mullen, which was quite stressful because Leonora had dementia and would just wander away from the home.  Gladys remembered being sent back to Westford every summer to live with family on Long-Sought-For-Pond. She said they used to row across the lake every day to swim and play with children at the summer camp there. As a teenager she crossed the border into New Hampshire to work as a waitress at another summer camp there. The 1935 city census finds her in Fall River working as a domestic.

Gladys Mabel Lawton and Winthrop Bixby Wordell. Courtesy of Caroline Wilkie Wordell.

On a blind date with friends she met Winthrop Bixby Wordell, son of Milton Wordell and Cora May Brownell Wordell of Little Compton.  The date must have gone well because they married in Fall River in 1939 and settled on Main Road, then Neck Road in Tiverton, where their first three children were born (Barbara Ruth –September 5, 1942, Paul Winthrop – December 20, 1944, Joyce Cora – July 27, 1947).  In was in Tiverton where Gladys met a woman who became a life time friend, next door neighbor Dot Jerome.  She happily remembered the two of them walking their babies in carriages to the Four Corners area. Gladys and Winthrop were then able to purchase a Victorian home on Maple Avenue in Little Compton from Evelyn Wilbor Brownell in 1949.  Mrs. Brownell (who was Winthrop’s step-grandmother) had a fondness for Winthrop so she agreed to sell him the house and all the contents for $6500.  After they moved to Little Compton they rounded out their family with the birth of Barry Lawton -July 15, 1949.  Gladys and Winthrop were married for 54 years when Winthrop passed away in 1993.

Caroline Wilkie Wordell, from interviews with Gladys’ daughters, Joyce Wordell Moson and Barbara Wordell Ambrogio

April 2020

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