Margaret Ellen Stuart of Stillwater, MN passed away peacefully at Walker Methodist Levande in Cambridge on August 14, 2021 at the age of 101.
Margaret Ellen Johnson was born in a small house during a snowstorm on January 11, 1920 in the rural town of New Richland, MN to George and Minnie Johnson. She was the oldest of three siblings (with brother, George “Bud” and Norman) and cousin to many in the community. Even though she grew up during the Great Depression, she didn’t think much of it because everyone was in the same boat. She grew up playing dolls, swimming at nearby St Olaf Lake, roller skating, spending time with friends and, as a teenager, going to dances. In her own words, the most difficult year for her was 1942 when her father passed away from cancer when he was only 50. Margaret was 22 at the time.
When Margaret was 17, she started dating Eddie Stuart, also from New Richland. They got engaged at Christmas time during her second year at college. There was a war going on and in 1942 Ed enlisted in the Army. So after she got her teaching degree from Mankato State Teacher’s College Margaret took the train to Boston where they were married in a small Lutheran ceremony. Ed was transferred to Camp Pickett, Virginia and Margaret followed. She got a job at the post signal office. They lived in Virginia until Ed was sent to Germany on October 13, 1944.
When he left for Germany, Margaret came back to New Richland and lived with her mother. She began working as a secretary at the E. F. Johnson Company in Waseca, that made radio parts for the war effort. After a few months, Margaret got a job teaching second grade in New Richland.
After Ed returned home from the war, he went to Macalaster College on the GI Bill and they moved to St Paul. Margaret worked at Montgomery Wards in the credit department. Eventually, they started a family in North Saint Paul and in 1954 moved to Stillwater, where deep roots were put down. They had three children: James, Jean and Mary Beth. Marg was an accomplished seamstress and knitter, making all of the draperies in their home and sewing many of the family’s clothes. Both Ed and Marg became very active in First Presbyterian Church, serving in many different capacities. When the children were school age, Margaret took a secretarial job at Ascension Episcopal Church in Stillwater. Both Ed and Margaret enjoyed playing bridge with family and friends. Throughout her life, Margaret was an avid reader and loved doing jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles. She was proud of her Norwegian heritage and three times she and Ed traveled to Norway. She started a Christmas tradition of making lefse which the family carries on today.
Margaret was a great blessing to many. Her life was one of stability and quiet strength, along with a deep faith in God and love for her family. Lakeview Hospice Care, Stillwater Hospital Gift Store, and First Presbyterian Wedding Committee all benefitted from her volunteer help for over 25 years. She was also part of PEP (People Enabling People), bringing cookies and making coffee for the visitors of the prisoners at the State Prison in Bayport, and for Community Volunteer Services, providing rides for people needing to get to doctor appointments, etc., and volunteering with Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to shut-ins. She and Ed became very close to a refuge couple that their church sponsored from Vietnam in 1980. They spent a lot of time with them over the next ten years and were devastated when they were killed in a terrible car accident.
Though Ed passed away in 2005, Margaret continued to be active in her church and with her bridge group until 2018 when she moved to Walker Methodist Levande in Cambridge to be closer to her daughter. Two and a half years later, she moved to Tim and Mary Beth’s home in Cambridge during the COVID pandemic for a year to enjoy the company of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In May of 2021 Margaret moved back to Walker Methodist LeVande as her care needs were increasing. She is survived by her brother Norman (Shirley) of Burnsville, her son James (Elena) Stuart, and daughters Jean (Charles) Smith and Mary Beth (Tim) Newton; grandchildren Rachel, John (Marci) and Peter (Amanda) Newton, and Brian (Lisa), Scott (Sarah Meier) and Daniel Smith, and 9 great-grandchildren. Preceded in death was her brother, George “Bud”, sister-in-law Vi, and sister-in-law Natalie.
Visitation will be at 3:00PM on Thursday (August 19, 2021) at the BRADSHAW CELEBRATION OF LIFE CENTER, 2800 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater. This will be followed by a Celebration of Life service at 4:00PM. A light meal will be served afterwards. Private interment will at St. Olaf Cemetery in New Richland at a later date.
Memorials preferred to Lakeview Hospice or First Presbyterian Church.
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