When Lorraine Gonyea Stewart came to Bard family Christmas celebrations, she was often toting a large cloth bag filed with handmade gifts — usually knitted — for everyone.
She embraced family and friends with big hugs and gave kisses that left lipstick stains on people’s cheeks, Bard family members recalled. And she wasn’t even technically related, but a dear friend of Mary Bard, the matriarch of the family of seven.
“Some of my earliest memories included her,” said Paul Bard, Stewart’s godson, recalling Christmases past.
But they’ll miss her presence this holiday season. Stewart, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died Oct. 17 at Alton Memory Care. She was 92.
“I have a lot of little tender memories,” said Jim Bard, Paul’s younger brother.
Stewart, a retired University of Minnesota professor, lived a long, cultured life, family members and friends said. She was a Fulbright Scholar and scientist, a talented violinist and an award-winning knitter.
Family and friends say she was a sweet but determined and opinionated woman.
Born in Minneapolis in 1923, she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class.
She attended the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth for two years and graduated from the U in 1944 with a bachelor’s degree in medical technology. She later obtained a master’s degree in anatomy and pathology.
In 1955, Stewart was a Fulbright Scholar in Oslo, Norway, for a year where she conducted research on blood coagulation. Her research contributed to the development of laboratory tests that are used in clinical labs throughout the world, her family said.
Robert Gonyea, Stewart’s brother, remembers the joy that came from hearing his older sister play the violin. The Gonyea children learned at an early age how to play classical music. Robert and his older brother, Lloyd, played the piano.
“Music was an important part of growing up,” Gonyea said.
Stewart was a skilled knitter and recipient of many awards from the Minnesota State Fair.
She knitted dozens of sweaters, hats, scarves and baby booties — it was one of her favorite hobbies.
And almost everyone she knew had at least one of Stewart’s award-winning pieces. Gonyea and the Bard brothers said they still have several colorful knitted sweaters and caps that she gave them.
“I remember my daughter receiving a State Fair blue ribbon sweater [on] Christmas of 2000 and I am still wearing a hat she knitted for me from that same year,” Jim Bard said.
Above all, she loved being a professor at the U. She taught a generation of medical technologists and medical students. She retired as an associate professor and there is a scholarship in her name for medical technology undergraduate students.
“Lorraine always brightened up when people [at the assisted living home where she later lived] addressed her as ‘professor,’ ” Paul Bard said.
Later in life, she was a senior editor of the clinical chemistry section of the American Journal of Medical Technology.
Even after retirement, Stewart remained active in the cultural life of the Twin Cities. She was involved with the Minnesota Orchestra, Walker Art Center and Guthrie Theater. She was an active volunteer at the Minnesota History Center and was a benefactor of the Minnesota Historical Society.
“It was a big part of her life after she retired,” Gonyea said. “She was a noble woman and a beloved sister.”
Marcia Anderson, former curator at the Minnesota Historical Society, said they mentored each other during Stewart’s time volunteering at the Historical Society.
“She was a strong person with a strong opinion and a lot of energy and willpower,” Anderson said.
Stewart was preceded in death by her husband, Sibley, and brother Lloyd. She is survived by brother Robert, of Maine. Services have been held.