m. 26 Aug
m. 8 Jun 1926
Facts and Events
Marriage to Clement
Winifred attended UCLA and was the President of her sorority in her freshman year. Her daughter remembers Winifred telling her about the sorority hazing-- how she ate a live goldfish! She was the life of the party but not a great student, and she dropped out to marry Clement Stewart in 1926.
They were still living in Los Angeles several years later, in 1930, when they were blessed to have a new baby girl. However, life was not good at home because her husband frequently drank too much.
Death of her FatherWinifred's parents hadn't been living together for quite some time. Her mother had lived in Los Angeles since at least 1930, working as a House Mother at a college. Louise was very cultured and refined, and loved to travel. Winifred's father, Charles, was still living in Kansas, drinking, fooling around with other women, and doing quite well as an insurance salesman. He was President of an insurance company and had a huge amount of life insurance.
Did Charles know what was coming? The official report was that on the 27th of May, 1932, a car pulled out suddenly and Charles struck a light post to avoid the other car. The rumor was that the other car was driven by an angry husband whose wife had been cheating with Charles. In any case, Louise Mitchell became quite wealthy when the insurance paid out! Winifred said it was quite embarrassing for her family to suddenly have all this money in the midst of the Great Depression.
Perhaps it was the sudden loss of her father that made her re-evaluate her marriage to Clement. No doubt the family's money helped make the decision a little easier. She divorced Clement and began working at the Palomar School for Boys in Parris, California. She taught horsemanship and etiquette.
Marriage to Wilson
It was at the Palomar School where Winifred first met a handsome young redhead named Wilson Stone. Wilson was teaching physical education at the time. Wilson was so different from Clement -- he didn't drink, he was serious and smart and mischievous all at the same time. His family wasn't in the rich upper class, but they knew how to have fun and they enjoyed each other. Wilson and Winifred probably attended many sporting events together during their courtship, as that was one of Wilson's favorite things. They were married in June 1940.
After that first year of marriage, Wilson left Palomar School and got a job at the Los Angeles Public Schools as a physical education teacher, and a year later (1942) he was inducted into the army.
Fortunately, Wilson didn't have to serve overseas. Wilson worked for the Adjutant General in Georgia thoughout World War II. The small family was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, where Winifred's second daughter was born in 1946. Immediately upon Wilson's release from the Army in summer 1946, they returned to California so Wilson could pursue a master's degree at UCLA (using his military benefits.)
After several more years of teaching, as the U.S. was beginning to get embroiled in the Korean Conflict, Winifred and Wilson decided that they would move to Cape Town, South Africa for Wilson to get his PhD in Education. Winifred had received a sizable chunk of money when she divorced Clement, which helped pay for the trip. They were also supported by the military benefits that Wilson received. Winifred, Wilson, and their almost-five year old daughter sailed aboard the ship "Africa" to South Africa. Their very young daughter Stephany recalls seeing the movie "The Wizard of Oz" on a big screen on board the ship, and the flying monkeys particularly terrified her. Stephany was only about 5 years old when they left for South Africa, and she attended school there and learned to speak Afrikaans fluently.
In order to help pay for their trip, Wilson agreed to drive a car (a Renault) which advertised beer on its doors and hood. They called this car "the Dot." Wilson, who had grown up in a strict Baptist family, didn't care to drink alcohol of any kind, but apparently didn't see any ethical conflict with advertising it!
Finding work in the U.S.
When Winifred, Wilson, and their daughter returned to the U.S., it was diffcult for Wilson to find work. He was older, and with a Ph.D. he was overqualified to teach at many places. It was a very stressful time for the whole family as they worried about Wilson getting a job. For a while they lived with Winifred's first daughter and her husband, until Wilson finally got a job in administration the Bakersfield, California school system.
Golden Years in Macomb, Illinois
In 1960 Wilson was able to fulfill a lifetime dream, working in a University setting. Wilson was hired on to develop and start up a new Reading Department for Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. Later the Department was broadened to "Reading and Special Education." He served as Chairperson in this Department until his retirement. Meanwhile, Winifred was very active in the University Wives Club on the WIU Campus (later to become the American Association of University Women.) In those days, the University wives were responsible for entertaining and facilitating the social interactions. With Wilson as the Department Chairperson there were many parties to hold to facilitate "networking." This was helpful during the era when the University was working to build its International student base. With her broad background of international travel, she was comfortable hosting a variety of international students, and particularly enjoyed the Nigerian students who were attending WIU. As her granddaughter remembers vividly, Winifred had impeccable manners and would have doubtless been comfortable drinking tea with the Queen of England, but she was also extremely intelligent and had many close friends.
When her daughter was in high school, Winifred got bored with being a housewife and took a job as an interior decorator for Hageman Furniture and later Brenner Furniture. She was top-notch at her work and redecorated the WIU President's mansion more than once. She also was very active in St. George's Episcopal Church, serving regularly in the "Flower Guild", where she helped decorate the altar each Sunday and provide coffee after the service. She loved parties, decorating and entertaining, and was a naturally intelligent and charming hostess. Her daughter remembers that there was never a traditional Christmas or Thanksgiving dish; Winifred was always serving creative new recipes such as leg of lamb with mint jelly.
After Wilson's death, it became apparent that Winifred had Alzheimers disease. Her disease was fairly advanced, yet she had kept it a secret because of her outstanding coping mechanisms including writing down lists (and probably relying heavily on her husband.) She was utterly lost without him.
Several people have said that prior to Alzheimer's disease, Winifred had a wit and "a mind like a steel trap." Even after the disease had severely impaired her cognitive processes, she retained a dignity and social adeptness that was both remarkable and delightful.
For a while she lived with her daughter and family, but pretty soon this was straining the family to the breaking point. Her daughter made the extremely difficult decision to put her in the Roseville Nursing Home, where she resided there for several years, visited weekly by her daughter and her family. Even in more advanced states of Alzheimers, her etiquette was intact and she would politely ask, "Well, how are you doing? I haven't seen you in so long!"