Elizabeth Sands Bolles, 92, Portsmouth

Posted 3/27/20

Elizabeth Sands (Elliot) Bolles, 92, of Portsmouth, died peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family on March 23, 2020.  Elizabeth, known to all as “Bambi,” was born in …

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Elizabeth Sands Bolles, 92, Portsmouth


Elizabeth Sands (Elliot) Bolles, 92, of Portsmouth, died peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family on March 23, 2020.  Elizabeth, known to all as “Bambi,” was born in Newport, Rhode Island on July 22, 1927.  She was the daughter of the late Elizabeth Sands Elliot O’Connell of Newport and the late Lieutenant Giraud Foster Elliot of the British Royal Artillery.  Bambi was the descendant of a prominent Newport naval family.  Her grandfather, Frederick Parker Sands, was the owner of the Newport Shipyard.  Her great grandfather, Dr. Austin Ledyard Sands, was an original incorporator of the medical board of Newport Hospital in 1873.  

Bambi was a year-round resident of Newport during her early childhood years, attending Miss Collings School and St. Columba’s Chapel.  When she was 10, she and her mother moved to New York City but returned to Newport every summer to their family home on Greenough Place.  Bambi shared stories of the beach and being an aircraft spotter atop St. George’s Chapel tower during WWII.  

She graduated from the Spence School in NYC in 1945.  She earned a BA in Philosophy from Barnard College in 1949. Bambi went to Union Theological Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity in 1952, and studied under Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr.  In her twenties, she returned to Newport and was the Director of Religious Education at Trinity Church.  Bambi married the Reverend Hébert W. Bolles on June 4, 1955 at Trinity Church.  They were devoted companions for 58 years.  He predeceased her in 2013.

Bambi leaves behind four beloved children, Elliot Foster Bolles, Ed.D. of Stafford, Va., the Reverend Anne Elizabeth Bolles-Beaven, Priest-in-Charge of St. Columba’s Chapel, Middletown, Paul Hébert Bolles of New York City, and M. Katherine “Kate” Bragan of Portsmouth.  Bambi leaves six cherished grandchildren, Stephen Parnell Bolles of New York City, Allison Lynn Bolles of Cambridge, Mass., Emma Sands Bolles-Beaven and William Norman Bolles-Beaven, both of New York City, Gwenyth Sands Bragan and Lila Foster Bragan, both of Portsmouth.

Bambi and Hébert started their married life in Wakefield where Hébert was the Rector of Ascension Episcopal Church. The family then moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Hébert served as Canon of the Cathedral.  In 1961, Hébert, a Navy Veteran from World War II, returned to active duty as a Navy Chaplain. The family followed Hébert to duty stations in Newport, RI, Boston, Mass., Norfolk, VA, and Argentia, Newfoundland, returning to Portsmouth in 1972.

Bambi was an active participant in the Navy Wives Club throughout Hébert’s military career. The couple shared a deep and abiding faith in God and Bambi was active in the Episcopal Church throughout her life.  She loved Aquidneck Island and was an active supporter of Save the Bay.  She was an officer of the Portsmouth Historical Society, active in the Episcopal Church Women, and together with her husband, recognized for distinguished and meritorious service to the Episcopal Charities Fund of RI.  Bambi organized food delivery for Meals on Wheels for over 30 years and was a Preservation Society tour guide in Newport for more than a decade.  She lived life grateful for it all.  She was faithful, loyal, loving and a woman of indomitable spirit.  

Due to present circumstances, burial will be private in St. Columba’s churchyard.  A memorial service will be held there in the coming months.  In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to Saint Columba's Chapel, 55 Vaucluse Ave., Middletown, RI, 02842.

For additional information, please visit www.memorialfuneralhome.com

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