Community mourns loss of leader, merchant André Auguste

André AugusteAndré AugusteAndré Auguste, a businessman and the patriarch of the Auguste family of Grand Goave, Haiti, died on Sept. 2 at 88. Auguste, who owned the Yvanhoe Shoe Shop on Morton Street in Dorchester, passed away at the Westacres Nursing Home in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Born in Port-au-Prince on August 24, 1924, Andre was the oldest of five sons of Francois Auguste of Grand Goave and Felicine Desir of Jacmel.  Andre left school and went to work at an early age to support his four brothers, Jean-Felixtene, Esmangat, Gerard and Edner after the passing of his father and an illness that disabled his mother.

Andre learned the craft of shoemaking.  He opened his first shoe store in Port-au-Prince, enlisting the help of his brother, Jean Felixtene Auguste.  The store specialized in making women sisal shoes for Dowing Factory to sell overseas, and designing and repairing soccer shoes for local Haitian soccer teams, two of them he helped create, Marvel and Tivoli Clubs.  Soon André was opening two additional stores in the areas of Portail St. Joseph and Rue du Peuple.  

After the 1957 Haitian presidential election that ended with Francois Duvalier becoming president of Haiti, Duvalier’s followers placed André under arrest and threw him in jail, because of his support to another candidate, the popular Daniel Fignolé.  Thanks to a family member who worked for the government, he was released shortly after.  In the early ‘60s, André was again persecuted by members of the government who forced him to close his main shoe store and remain in hiding for months.

Under the protection of some members of the Duvalier regime he had befriended, Andre was able to come out of hiding and opened two new shoe stores and a factory in PAP, employing dozens of employees.  Out of concerns for his safety, André finally migrated to Boston in 1969. He worked for Coca Cola in Cambridge and then Westvaco for 11 years. When he retired from Westvaco, he opened Yvanhoe Shoe Shop on Morton Street in Dorchester, which became a popular destination for members of the Haitian-American community of Boston.

As the patriarch of the Auguste Family that originated in the city of Grand Goave, Andre paved the way for family members to immigrate to Boston. Because of his efforts, there are more than 130 members of the family living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, especially in the Brockton area.

On Sunday, August 26, 2012, more than 150 Andre’s friends and family members as well as several representatives of the General Consulate of Haiti in Boston, gathered at Generations Banquet Hall, in Avon, Mass, to celebrate his 88th birthday.  Governor Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts Senate, State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry and the House of Representatives, Boston City Mayor, Thomas M. Menino and the Boston City Council sent their best wishes to Andre for continued health and happiness. They also recognized him for his 43 years of contributions to the Haitian-American Community of Massachusetts.

Andre Auguste is survived by his brother, Gerard Auguste, his sons:  Marthel, Wilner, Daniel, Andelson and Jude Auguste, by his daughters: Nirva Caillot, Armide Vales and Winza Naku. Andre is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Carmen and Olivia Auguste and by several grand children, great- grand children, nephews and nieces.