‘He sowed his seeds of grace so gently’

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Certain words get repeated when family and friends describe a man they adore and miss: loving, humble, brilliant, inspirational, cool.

A gentleman.

A singular soul.

Aubrey de Souza, who worked as an account executive at this newspaper group for several years, died on Jan. 17 at the age of 87, days before his birthday. “We met in 1973, married in Maine on Sept. 5, 1981 and lived and shared 43-plus glorious years together,” said Aubrey’s wife, Barbara de Souza. “I can only be grateful to him for sharing his best with me every one of those days… Aubrey I know is beaming. Who can resist that smile, that face? Because he sowed his seeds of grace so gently. I will always love you Aubrey.”

Chelsie Aria remembers her grandfather’s love. “Papasan, you were always there for me. You never BS me and you always reminded me how dynamite I was,” she said. “I will forever emulate you. You truly are a legend and there is no one like you. The love that you shared with Barbara de Souza gave me hope, that a soul’s counterpart does really exist in another. You both loved with a passion that is a rarity in this world. Rest in peace my amazing grandfather. I miss you so much already. I know you will forever watch over me and have my back.”

Aubrey de Souza was raised in New York City. He attended Antioch University, then studied history and political science at Youngstown University in Ohio, where he played basketball and baseball and was a member of the debating team.

He served as a Marine for three years, including eight months in the Korean War, leaving as a sergeant before embarking on a career spent mostly in his beloved New York City. De Souza was in ad sales at the New York Post, an account executive at CBS, an account executive at Conde Nast, cosmetics advertising manager for Mademoiselle magazine, director of advertising for Amsterdam News, director of advertising for the award-winning The City Sun newspaper, and co-owner of Boomers, one of the hottest jazz clubs in Greenwich Village in the 1970s, regularly featuring Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone and other music legends.

De Souza also worked as a model and actor, landing parts in TV commercials and movies such as Superfly and The Way of the World (starring Harvey Keitel). Co-workers could count on two things when de Souza entered the office: He was always positive and he was always sharply-dressed.

He was a people magnet. It wasn’t unusual to see a gaggle of folks gathered around his desk, soaking in his presence. He was utterly democratic when it came to human relations; he saw and brought out the best in everyone, no matter their race, religion or opinions.

His greatest love was people, and the greatest of these was his wife, Barbara, and the rest of his family.

“Uncle Aubrey and aunt Barbara have the most inspirational love I know. After 40-plus years you can still see the childlike love in their eyes,” said niece Alexandra Sanderson.

Aubrey and Barbara moved from their beautiful house in Maine to the charm of Orange, California in 2002. One year prior, Aubrey de Souza witnessed the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers from his office in Brooklyn Heights. He walked with hundreds of others through smoke and muck across the Brooklyn Bridge, to his home in the West Village.

Aubrey and Barbara created a new life in Orange County. Their passions abided: music, sports, theater, art, politics and people. They relished the simple, bouyant delights of music, food and conversation.

Aubrey de Souza did not wish for a service. He wanted a party.

Toward that end, Barbara and family are holding a private celebration on March 18. Aubrey de Souza is survived by Barbara, son Dane, grandchildren Chelsie and Miles, two brothers, six nieces and two nephews. They and countless others will not forget him. “Aubrey was a way-station for so many, a comfort zone, our logical and emotional facilitator,” said Dane. “The real guru that could touch your core with his infectious smile, if you were open… or not. You only had to be in his presence for two minutes to sense he was an original, a timeless piece, a man for all seasons with the style and swagger that personifies the jazz he loved.”