In Memoriam -Evelyn Stewart, 1920 – 2016

Well it’s more a reminisce…

In the early winter of 1990, Bill Powell suggested we forgo the trip to Milltown for the Kaypro Users Group and check out the ‘local’ club instead. And sitting right there in the front row so she wouldn’t miss hearing anything (or being able to contribute), was the quintessential “little old lady” – Evelyn Stewart.

I never knew Evelyn when she wasn’t retired (from a varied career that included wartime manufacturing, being a school librarian, running a credit union, publishing cookbooks and newsletters, raising a family)… and she was the busiest retired person I’ve ever known!

We quickly became friends, and started collaborating on Evelyn’s Senior Center project – bringing computer literacy, arts and crafts to a wider audience. Over time the program grew to have a dedicated lab and staff, and continues to this day.

The first visit I made to Evelyn’s home in Holland Twp was an adventure: drive down a narrow lane next to a busy golf course, find the 1814 farmhouse with the open spring-fed cistern inside… and follow 70-odd feet of extension cord over to Evelyn’s computer. The basement was another strange land, dirt-floored and populated with Doug’s machine tools.

In time husband Doug passed on, and Evelyn moved from the farmhouse to a smaller condominium nearby, where she continued the crafts and began to rewrite the printed cookbooks for the web.

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Evelyn in the Senior Center Lab, March 2004.
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Digital camera lessons, June 2004.

In 2005 Evelyn decided to quit driving, and found an assisted living place – Fallsdale Meadows, in Tyler Hill, PA. On October 26 the big move took place… and it didn’t take long at all to realize this was a mistake. While the staff was well-intentioned, Fallsdale was a care facility; a holding pen for people. It wasn’t at all the place for a mentally-alert lady. I visited up there in mid-December for a short visit… In June 2006, we went over to a diner in Callicoon NY for lunch, and then a walk for photography:

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Street photography – Callicoon NY, June 2006.

And by then there was the new plan, and the new move.

Evelyn bought a house in Plattsmouth Nebraska, found via the Internet. She relied on son Bruce to make sure the house actually existed, and prepared to move out there. Soon enough the troops arrived, along with her trusty RAV4, and packing was done and she was off, to new adventures…

In 2007 I decided to take a great road trip, and go visit Evelyn in her new digs. Loaded up my RAV4, headed west, and eventually arrived in Plattsmouth… and found during this trip that Evelyn was secretly a hardware-store junkie. One day we drove down to the small town of Weeping Water and spent most of the day in a giant hardware store; on the way back stopped in at Harbor Freight to pick up something she forgot to get in Weeping Water!

The little house in Plattsmouth was cosy; it provided room for her, her crafts and photos, computers and memorabilia… even two cats!

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The Plattsmouth “command center” in June 2007.

After a few days, it was time to head back. That was the last time I saw Evelyn, although we stayed in touch via email for years… the last email was a couple of years ago but there was sporadic contact via Facebook after that.

Others can fill in more details about her marches in the Smith College parade (she was class of 1941), the puppetry conventions and the PrintArtist clubs.

What a wonderful life.

 

 

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One thought on “In Memoriam -Evelyn Stewart, 1920 – 2016”

  1. I remember years ago Evelyn called to ask my opinion of Dr. —- who was scheduled to operate on her knee. I said he didn’t have much of a bedside manner, but was a good surgeon. A few days after the surgery to ask how she was doing. Her comment: “what do you mean no bedside manner … he told me what he was going to do and left. What’s wrong with that?” I realized that if he had patted her hand and told her he’d take care of her, she would have punched him in the nose!

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