by Carolyn Brown *as published in the October 2021 issue of the River Valley Sun
Coming to Woodstock as a young mother in 1969, I met someone very special. Her name is Dodie Stewart, as we all fondly call her, and she now lives in our home here at Riverside Court. In 1971, when my husband and I moved to a home on Elm Street with our two daughters, little did we know we were moving next door to what would become surrogate grandparents! That was Bud and Dodie Stewart, names familiar to many in Woodstock. They moved to their home there in 1951 with their three children, Gary, Mark and Janet. They were wonderful to our girls. Dodie fondly remembers taking the girls to the store, which of course was Stewart’s Home Hardware run then by Bud and his brother, Donald, in the back of their station wagon. She tells about the girls being so excited to be able to lay down in the “way back” to travel. Would it surprise you to know the next vehicle we bought was a station wagon?
Dodie misses Bud every day. They married in 1947 and had 70 years together as the best partners ever. Dodie had two older sisters and so was “the spoiled baby”. She says Bud continued to spoil her all her life with his kind, genteel manner and says she can still hear him say,” now Dodie”. She continues to say she is now being spoiled by Riverside Court and considers us all like family. She feels secure and has nothing to complain about. She says “home is where you hang your hat and I hang my hat here.” She fondly remembers she and Bud making the arrangements together to come here when Bud’s health became concerning. Dodie says he was looking after her then, as always, to get her settled and safe. He passed away one month after their move to our home.
Dodie was blessed to be able to be home to raise her family, taught Sunday School, was a Brownie leader, curled, bowled and golfed. Occasionally, she might have to help at the store. She tells how they loved to travel and always took the kids on many trips. Of course, those trips would have a lot to do with Bud’s passion of the Cardinals and baseball so Montreal and Boston were favourite vacation spots. Florida vacations were also very special.
In 1939, the Stewarts became owners of Clubhouse Island at Skiff Lake which became the cottage of Bud and Dodie and their family now known as ”Stewart’s Island”. Bud would often tell her he didn’t know what he would have done if she hadn’t enjoyed the lake. With their cottage on the Island came ownership of all the other Islands in the lake, so the adventure began. Those islands are now under new ownership but “Stewart’s Island’ is still full of laughter and fun with the extended Stewart family carrying on traditions.
When I asked Dodie about life highlights, she answers simply the summers at Skiff Lake and family times. Their life was their family. It was not without its heartaches and none was greater than when they lost their beloved daughter, Janet. Dodie says, when they sold the store in 1992, “it was the best day of our lives because we got to be together all the time.” Dodie continues to enjoy her 6 grandchildren and their families and her 2 great-grandchildren. She says “I like everyone to be happy. Bud was such a nice person he made me a nicer person.”