Longtime St. John resident Mimi Servant passed away Monday, May 21, at Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas. Mimi was born Marie-Therese Legeai near Le Mans, France. Her father, Louis, was a baker and her mother, Ernestine, a seamstress and designer of beaded wedding gowns. Mimi was raised and educated in Paris.
Mimi met her husband, René Servant, while the two were attending the same beautician college in France. They married and relocated to the United States in 1950. The couple settled in Rockville, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. where they owned and managed a beauty salon. After they moved to the United States, she learned to speak English along with her children.
Mimi became an American citizen on the first day that she was eligible.
“She was so proud of being an American,” said René.
Mimi is survived by her son, Gaston, and her husband of 56 years, René. Their son Christopher died at the age of 15, the victim of a tragic automobile accident.
After the tragedy, Mimi went back to her first love, art. Mimi studied oil painting, drawing and watercolor. She has had several exhibitions and most of her works are now in private collections. Prior to moving to St. John in 1978, she attended Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, as a sculpture major.
She has produced many crafts, creating unique Christmas decorations using a decoupage technique, and reproduced Native American ceremonial costumes. In the last 30 years, with the help of her husband, René, and her son, Gaston, Mimi designed and landscaped their homes in Coral Bay. With help from her family, she built all the stone walls, paved numerous terraces and created custom designed stepping stones. Her wonderful green thumb produced many exotic plants and orchids and also started the 50 foot palm trees that grace her yard.
Dry rock terraces like Mimi’s are now quite in vogue on St. John.
“It was amazing how she built all those stone walls,” said a neighbor. “Mimi Servant was typical of the people who moved to St. John decades ago. She’s the old spirit of Coral Bay — people who came here and created something out of nothing.”
“She was a strong and purposeful woman,” the neighbor added.
Mimi was never afraid of hard work. Some local stone masons gave her the nickname “Heavy Duty,” which she took as a great compliment. Mimi was also a gourmet cook, seamstress and enjoyed the sports of windsurfing, free-diving, and sailing.
Mimi survived a bout with cancer in 2005, a testament to her strong will and determination. This time, although she fought until the end, she could not prevail. Mimi was 74. A memorial service for friends and family will be scheduled soon. The time and location will be announced.
– Submitted by Servant Family