UNADILLA – Felix (Lex) Smith Verity, 104, a former diplomat and executive who owned property in Unadilla as well as Cold Spring and Manhattan, died May 19, 2019.
(Lex) was born Feb. 27, 1915, in Readville, Mass., the son of John William Verity of Yorkshire, England, and Anna Evangeline Appleby of New Brunswick, Canada.
Anna was the descendant of one of five Appleby brothers who left New York State about 1750 for residence in New Brunswick. Lex’s early youth was spent in Canton, Mass., with his parents, where his father’s siblings also resided.
He attended Canton and Hartford Public High Schools and graduated from South Side High School in Newark, N.J., in 1931 at age 16. A year after graduating from high school, Lex entered the all-male Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and graduated four years later with the Class of 1936 with a Bachelor’s in Science degree.
While at Bowdoin, he was initiated into the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. He was a member of the glee club, orchestra and theater, and was clerical assistant to the athletic director, Adam Walsh. Lex loved to talk about his college years, and especially enjoyed telling how his first-year upper-class roommate and friend, Thomas Dean, who lived to be 101, passing in 2015, brewed beer under his bed while a student there.
At one time these dormitory rooms had been occupied by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Class of 1825. As a student at Bowdoin, Lex had lunch with Arctic explorer and Bowdoin honorary degree recipient Donald MacMillan and he met Irish poet William Butler Yeats. After graduation from Bowdoin, Lex was employed by Provident Loan Society of New York until his induction into the Army on Aug. 14, 1941.
He began in the Signal Corps on Governors Island. From there, he transferred to the Office of the Provost Marshal in Manhattan. After being highly recommended, Lex then transferred to the Counter Intelligence Corps as a special agent. His close associate was Richard Young (son of Owen D. Young, Democratic presidential candidate of 1932, head of General Electric Company and founder of RCA) and he was a guest at the Young residence in Van Hornsville.
During the war years, Lex was transferred to England and later Scotland. He worked closely with Scotland Yard. While in London, Lex resided with very dear friends Dr. Frederick Deller and his wife Nora. He was the recipient of many medals including the Bronze Star which he received in 1945 as a result of his activity in Scotland and London.
Lex was honorably discharged Nov. 1, 1945. Verity entered the Foreign Service as attache to the U.S. Embassy in London in 1947. That same year, his father died at age 60 and Lex’s dependent mother accompanied him on his missions abroad.
On July 22nd, 1948, he and his mother attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace hosted by King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. In attendance were Queen Mary, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Also during 1948, Lex was one of the assistants to George C. Marshall, head of the U.S. Delegations to the General Assembly of the United Nations in Paris. As a token of his appreciation, the general autographed two sheets of French stamps commemorating the event.
When he ended his tour of duty in London, his close associates in Scotland Yard presented him with a copy of Grafton’s Chronicle, a history of England dated 1568, which he later presented to Bowdoin College; it is acclaimed as the oldest book in any college library in Maine.
While in London from 1947 to 1949, Lex and his mother occupied a six-room apartment in Winfield House, which was built in 1936 for American Heiress, Barbara Hutton, and where she had last resided with her husband, Cary Grant.
Winfield House is a mansion set on 12 acres of grounds in Regent’s Park, the second largest private garden in central London and has been the official residence of the United States ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. At the end of World War II, the ambassador did not occupy the mansion because he found it too pretentious after the war’s devastation.
After two years with the London Embassy, Lex became vice consul in Kingston, Jamaica, and later, visa officer in Rome, Italy until 1951. While in Rome, he was blessed by Pope Pius XII in a wing of the Vatican.
After five years in the Foreign Service, Lex began working for Joseph Lauder, co-founder of Estee Lauder Cosmetics Co. in New York City as Joseph’s personal assistant for two years. His mother continued to reside with him on Riverside Drive in Manhattan in their eight-room apartment until her passing from a stroke in 1966.
Later Lex worked for McCall’s Pattern Co. in New York City, where he served as director of advertising and promotion.
Among his treasured memories was a flight he made to Phoenix to attend a sales meeting. During his flight he had a one hour chat with Leonard Bernstein who, with his daughter, was on his way to meet Mrs. Bernstein at the airport in Tucson, Arizona. Bernstein scribbled on a piece of paper the words, “Dr. No by Ian Fleming,” referring to a book he had just read and highly recommended to him.
Lex retired from McCall’s in 1970 after 16 years with the company. For 38 years Lex clung to his eight-room apartment on Riverside Drive, along with his residences in Cold Spring and Unadilla.
He owned an antique shop in Cold Spring on the banks of the Hudson River. West Point Officers and their wives were among his customers anxious to acquire 18th and 19th Century English and American antiques. He acquired real estate in the town of Unadilla in 1989.
After the death of Nora Deller’s husband, Nora and Lex continued their friendship for many years. As Nora maintained her residence in London, she became a constant companion and visitor to Lex. They enjoyed their frequent trips to Portugal and Madeira, where Lex maintained a residence and they also enjoyed their visits together in the states as well. Sadly, Nora passed in 2002 from pancreatic cancer.
Predeceased in death by his parents, Lex is survived by first-cousin families of New Brunswick. He is also survived by the descendants of the late Charles Herman Dunker and the late Lillian Appleby Dunker of Hyde Park and Brookline, Mass. Other mourners include the descendants of the following families: The late Herbert Kinsley Draper families, the late Ernest and Annie Verity families and the late David Milligan families of Canton, Mass.
A Military Honor Service at the time of interment honoring Felix S. Verity will be held at the Protestant Cemetery in Canton Corners, Massachusetts. Arrangements have been entrusted to Westcott-Madden Funeral Home, 123 Main St., Unadilla. Online condolences may be made at: www.wmaddenfh.com.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Delaware Valley Humane Society, 101 E Main St, Sidney, NY 13838 in his honor. Sums of $20,000 or more may be sent to the Felix Smith Verity fund at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, in honor of his parents John William and Anna Evangeline Appleby Verity.