Beatrice Cyr, 93
Surrounded by loving family and friends, Beatrice (Bea) Cyr died peacefully at home on Thursday, June 4, 2015 at the age of 93. Born Beatrice Eva Auclaire Bouchard on Jan. 4, 1922, she was the oldest daughter of Cora and Arthur Bouchard of Centredale, R.I. She is survived by her daughters Barbara Nyzio and Lorraine Cyr both of Block Island, sister Lillian Martin of Block Island, two granddaughters, Stephanie (Nyzio) Wizikowski of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Karen (Nyzio) Corsilia of Ridgefield, Conn., and five grandchildren, Brandon and Cameron Wizikowski, and Jacob, Justine, and Kayla Corsilia, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Her husband of 67 years, Ulric Cyr, died in 2010 and her sister, Edna died in 2013. She was a faithful communicant of St. Andrew Church, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, and Catholic Ladies Guild.
Unassuming and humble, yet multi-talented and industrious, Bea packed a powerhouse into her diminutive frame. Married to Ulric Cyr in 1943, they moved to Block Island with their two daughters in 1955 when Ulric was assigned to the Coast Guard Station here. She made a home for them in a tiny cottage on Ocean Avenue and found herself enchanted by the old Surf Hotel, which had been closed for 17 years. She eventually convinced Ulric to purchase it, determined to open that summer. Work at the hotel consumed much of their days and nights, and she eventually moved the family into the east wing so she could work late into the night with the girls close by. That summer one section of the restored hotel was opened and, staffed by family and friends, both young and old, the Victorian era hotel was on its way to becoming an island landmark.
The hotel became her third child; she nurtured it through its infancy, tenderly guided it through childhood, and rejoiced in its coming of age when families eagerly returned each year for their week of bliss by the sea. Pleased at the joy guests found at her doors, Bea worked to provide them memorable experiences. In the pre-dawn hours, tendrils of delicious aromas wafted through the lobby and hallways of the slumbering hotel, as Bea, dwarfed by the massive black stove, began preparing breakfast. Served by young ladies in Victorian garb created, more often than not, at Bea’s sewing machine, these breakfasts became legendary, even on the mainland, with hungry guests standing in lines on the porch.
Dozens of island youngsters, including grandchildren, nieces and nephews, found their first jobs at the Surf. Bea patiently taught them how to operate the pop-corn machine on the front porch, to carefully butter toast, set tables, serve baked apples with cream, and treat the guests with respect. Many youngsters came to regard her as “Memere,” as her own grandchildren called her. Two generations later, Bea was still Memere to many.
For more than half a century Bea remained the “behind-the-scenes” woman at the Surf. Steady and strong, she was the glue that held the family, and the business, together. It was rare to see her anywhere but the kitchen during the summer months, although she delighted in watching the Fourth of July parade from the Surf porch. One banner year she was persuaded to wave from the Surf’s Swan Boat float, and another time from the Grand Marshall’s seat.
In 2007, after 51 years of hospitality, the doors of the Surf were closed and Bea and Ulric moved into the new wing that their daughter, Lorraine, added to her home on Ocean Avenue to accommodate them. Surf guests continued to visit, sharing fond memories and laughing at recalled antics. After Ulric’s death, as Bea’s health began to deteriorate, her sister Lillian, lovingly assisted Lorraine with her care. In her final year, Bea also enjoyed the attentions of Diane Jones, her affable and compassionate daily companion.
Competent and caring, artistic and skillful, Bea was the epitome of humility, selflessness, and dedication and wit. The impact she made on the community, albeit often quietly, cannot be denied. Truly, a great treasure came in this small package. We will all miss her!