Margaret Stewart
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Obituary of Margaret Stewart

Stewart, Margaret Lillian (née McKeever)

Ogden: Tuesday, the 10th of January 2017, after a long courageous battle with esophageal cancer. She was born on the 4th of November 1946 in Marseilles, France. She was married to James in Amsterdam, NY in 1967. She was predeceased by her parents Charles Edward Mckeever and Jeanne Louise Elizabeth Commune. She is survived by her husband James of 49 years, her daughter, Lisa/Peter P. Lilley Jr. of Penfield and their children Peter and Sophie; her son, Robert/Tara, of Malvern, PA and their children Keegan & Gavin; and her brother Richard/Karen McKeever of Salt Springs, Florida. To light a candle of remembrance, please visit The Thanksgiving of Life and Ministry will be held at The Church of The Epiphany, 3285 Buffalo Rd. on Saturday the 14th of January at 10 a.m. Memorial contributions may be sent to Wilmot Cancer Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, Church of The Epiphany, 3285 Buffalo Rd, Rochester, NY 14624, Trinity Episcopal Church, 3450 W Ridge Rd, Rochester, NY 14626.

Tribute to Margaret

Written by James Stewart

In the beginning Marguerite / Margaret / Maggie came into the world in Marseilles, France on the 4th of November 1946. She was the daughter of Charles Edward McKeever (a sergeant in the US Army doing financial work during WWII) and Jeanne Louise Elizabeth Commune (a young French postal worker in Marseilles during WWII). Who met at a USO dance and got married in Marseilles. Maggie was named after her Aunt Marguerite/Margo. Margo had died early in life due to TB, and was one of Jeanne’s closest friends.

Now what is in a name Marguerite/Margaret/Maggie? Her name is originally derived from Persian that means Pearl and in French it means 'daisy.' She has been a precious pearl to all of us in so many ways and has blossomed so radiantly as a beautiful flower in this world. She has met, so many people along the way that have become her lifelong friends from where she worked (Monroe County Department of Human Services), where she worshiped (Church of the Epiphany and Trinity Episcopal Church), where she exercised (The YMCA and her walking buddies in Spencerport) and where she has lived as well.

Maggie and her parents came to America shortly after her birth in France, on the SS Sobieski with her brother to be, in September of 1947. The exact date they landed in America was on the 22nd of September, yes the same day her husband to be, was born up the Hudson River in Hudson, NY. The McKeever family first settled in Yonkers, NY where her father Charlie had been born. He had a position with Alexander Smith (a carpet company) where his father and brother were working. They later moved to Hartsdale, NY as his position with the firm improved. As Alexander-Smith grew they purchased another carpet company called Mohawk Carpet, in Amsterdam, NY. The new firm MOHASCO asked Charlie to head up the accounting department of the new firm, this meant another move for the family to Amsterdam, NY where they would reside for the next 40 years.

So Maggie grew up in a newly built neighborhood on the outskirts of Amsterdam not far from where her father worked at Mohasco. She made a lot of new friends there as she and her brother grew up into young adults. During her senior year at Wilber H. Lynch High School where she was a member of a sorority called KE (Kappa Epsilon) she went to a dance where she met a young boy from Schenectady, at the last dance of the evening. She invited him to return the following Saturday for KE’s dance called “Farewell to Football” and from that point on this young boy became a part of her life, dancing with her for the next 49 years, enjoying her love and companionship .

Upon graduation from Amsterdam High School, Maggie went to a business school called the Amsterdam School of Commerce. Were upon graduation, she went to work briefly for General Electric in Schenectady and then Mohasco. In October of 1967 she would marry Jim and move to Rochester where he was working for the Eastman Kodak Company. Jim had graduated from Hudson Valley Community College in June and taken a position in a design group working on equipment need by the US government. At first they lived in a mobile home where they would meet friends like Lenka & Joe Horwath (a very young Croatian girl that was soon to be a mother of two sons Ron and Ryan). In about three years she moved into a newly purchased house that would become their home for the next 45 years. She would make new friends there as well. A next door neighbor Bonnie and Bill Lennon that had two sons and Anna and Gino Mongiovi, a young Italian woman that was a mother of a daughter and two sons. She made friends with another neighbor across the street Anne and Jim Loughlin that was a mother of three daughters and one son. Even the neighborhood cat (Emmy), that had ran away from her home at the end of the street, followed her home and hasn’t left.

And then there is Brenda and Ray. Maggie met Brenda when she joined the choir at Epiphany 41 years ago, when Brenda was an Eastman student, and became the organist and choir director at Epiphany. They very quickly became lifelong friends. Well you get the idea, she made friends with so, so many people she encounter and was still friends with all of them today.

In 1969, she found that a new bundle of joy would come into her life. Our daughter, Lisa was born just before Christmas, and in 1973, another arrival in February, of our son Bob. As our children grew up Maggie, was able to stay at home and nurture them and with her sewing skills, she made a lot of their clothing. Eventually they would get to the point she could go back and work for various places, doing clerical work, and eventually she found a position with Spencerport Schools and then moved on to a position with Monroe County in the Department of Human Service with a Child Protective group. There Maggie turned the office into a home away from home. Her office became a place to decorate and make friends with all the people she worked with and helped. The office said “The world has Martha Stewart and we have Maggie Stewart”.

We were blessed, with being able to help our two children afford their college education, as well being able to help them at times with gifts to improve their lives. Both Lisa and Bob became teachers and are married (Lisa to Pete Lilley and Bob to Tara Cunningham). We were also blessed with grand children (Peter and Sophie) and (Keegan and Gavin) to be able to share our time and love with them. And Maggie of course wanted to spend as much time as she could with them, spoiling them as grandmothers always want to do.

While I was writing this tribute, I read parts of it to Maggie, so she could hear a little about my tribute. And of course she told me some of the things I needed to correct and add about others I had omitted from this story. I explained the tribute was about her, not others and I had to stay focused on that concept otherwise this tribute would be even longer.

Over the years Maggie, has grown her community to be beyond her family and to treat all her friends like family. There have been many gatherings where we have had a very large dining room, very full and using an additional table in the kitchen. She has prepared so many great dishes like Quiché, Crêpes and Coco Van and all of us, we will definitely miss her chocolate mousse.

We were blessed with being able to travel. We have gone to Scotland twice and France four times. We also were able to go the Caribbean many times to escape the Rochester winters for a week. The last trip to France was really special, since we were able to worship at All Saints Anglican Church in Marseilles. This is the church, her parents were married in and she was baptized in on Christmas Eve.

Maggie has been the love of my life, for over the past 50 years. In Maggie’s passing we are reminded how short life can be. We were blessed with Maggie here for the past 70 years and trust she will be rejoined by her friends and family as we all make our journeys to the other side as well. And thank you, Maggie for being our friend and loving all of us.

I leave you with a quote from Rumi, that when I heard it originally, I thought of my wife and the message has stayed with me for years.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing or right doing I’ll meet you there.”

Goodbye my friend, the love of my life

Jim, your beloved husband .

Written and Presented by Lisa Stewart Lilley

My mom. Margaret to her parents and brother. Nana to Peter and Sophie. Maggie to my dad, to my husband and to all of her dear friends.

My mom and I loved each other so very much. I grew up surrounded by love from both of my parents and knew they always wanted the best for me. Their love supported me to follow my dreams and live a happy life.

My mom had amazing artistic talents. She loved to sew, paint, stencil and decorate. She had a vision to make the world around us become that much more beautiful.

My mom was a passionate gardener. Maggie’s garden grew and grew. Each spring, she would plant flowers and more flowers and even more flowers taking many trips to the garden stores. She cared for her garden each and every day making sure it was well watered and tended. My how it bloomed.

My mom loved Christmas. To me, there has nothing more special than being at home for Christmas. She loved her many trees and each had a special theme. And I can’t forget to mention all of those cookies either - Nanaimo Bars, cheesecake dreams, Lincoln Brownies, Czech cookies and those infamous rum balls. I know everyone had their favorite, too.

My mom always wanted nothing but the best for me and always made me feel like I was the most special and loved daughter in the world. From all of those hair ribbons to sewing first day of school and prom dresses. From flute lessons to going to college to become a French teacher. From studying abroad at the Sorbonne to teaching in France. From planning a beautiful wedding for Pete and I to celebrating when I became a mom to Peter and Sophie. I always felt loved by her and I know she was proud of me.

There’s so much I am going to miss about my mom, but most of all, it will be our talks and having her there to watch Peter and Sophie grow up. Over the past few months, my mom and I would lie down beside each other, hold hands and talk. We both cherished that time to remember, and I will never forget the talk we shared the last day she was able to speak to me. How blessed we all are to have known and be loved by my mom. Mom, you are wonderful and I love you so, so much.

Written and Presented by Regina Johnson

I first came to know Maggie Stewart in the spring of 1990, when she came to interview for the secretarial job available on my team at the Department of Human Services. Maggie seemed like a great fit for us and lucky for us she accepted the job. At the time, we were located in a small sub station office on Buffalo Road. Being a group of overly busy social workers, we really did not have time to improve or think about our office conditions, which were, let’s say, shabby. When Maggie actually started the job, I was leaving on vacation the next day. In the day I was there, I did notice that Maggie seemed to have a real talent for organizing and cleaning. A week later, I returned from vacation, and as I am was walking up the stairwell to our office, I started having this feeling that something was different, really amiss. Then I began to note that maps and other notices were hanging on the walls neatly, and laminated too! I could not believe the transformation that had occurred in a week! Maggie and I laughed over her love of laminating things and I got the feeling that our team had somehow scored the best secretary ever. That feeling turned out to be true. Over the many years that Maggie was the secretary of my Unit, which turned out to be over 20 years; Maggie proved that over and over again. Not only was Maggie energetic and efficient, and outperformed all expectations, she was truly helpful and caring toward all of the casework staff. She would assist them in any way possible and went above and beyond what anyone would expect in her assistance to them. As a result, Maggie was much beloved by all, and we were the envy of many teams. Maggie not only took care of our secretarial needs, she encouraged us to exercise and eat right and she organized lunch hour walks that if we could attend, helped us de-stress and just enjoy each other’s company and she did regular blood pressure checks on our stressed out staff. And Maggie knew that sometimes, we needed just to break loose forget about healthiness and just enjoy some of the finer things of life, like at Christmas, when she would bring in those amazing cookies for everyone and invite the team over for her famous chocolate mousse, wine and just great fellowship together. Maggie so generously hosted many team events at her home and, Maggie’s caring just did not stop in the office setting, she became a personal friend to many, including myself and for that I am grateful. Maggie’s greatness was not limited to just her secretarial skills. As most of you know, Maggie had a true knack for decorating and just making things beautiful. She brought this to the workplace and not only was our team’s office the most organized and clean, it was also the most nicely decorated. During one holiday season, our office even won the Martha Stewart award for decorating, and it was all Maggie’s doing. I used to say after that, the world has Martha Stewart, but we have Maggie Stewert. Maggie decorated all over the place in the building, so she not only made our lives easier in countless ways, but she made our lives more beautiful. Even today, almost 7 years after Maggie retired, there are still countless reminders of her office beautification efforts. I see them in the walls she stenciled, the many pictures she hung up, especially of her beloved French painters, and of the blooming plants she left behind for us. We were all lucky indeed. Lucky to have known Maggie. Lucky to have shared so much of life with her. Lucky to have her as a friend. I told her recently that I was really happy that after she retired, our team never again had our own secretary. I told her it would have just been unfair to someone, as they could never compare to her. Maybe she thought I was just flattering her, but no it is true, we had already had the best, the best decorator, the best secretary, the best friend, who will be truly missed and I believe now, Maggie is already busy decorating and beautifying the halls of heaven.