Audrey Stewart, seated, with daughter Colleen.
CRESWELL – Friends and family of Audrey Stewart will remember her fondly for her love of music, children and the church. She passed away on Nov. 30, 2020 at age 93.
Audrey moved from Riverside, Calif., to Creswell in 2015, after Colleen and son-in-law, Tom Partridge, invited her to live with them.
She grew up in a musical household. Colleen Stewart of Creswell said her mother would often play the piano as a child while her father played the violin in tandem. She worked to earn enough money for voice lessons, and was in the operetta in high school.
It wasn’t long before she scoped out the local music scene, and in 2017, she joined the Creswell Community Singers alongside her daughter.
She was a sweet soul that wore her gratitude on her sleeve, even for the littlest of things, said Rick and Joan Kelley, who sang with Audrey on stage.
Audrey and Colleen sang the opening to “White Christmas” for Creswell holiday activities, and for the Creswell Health & Rehabilitation Center in 2017 and ’18, said Mary Ellen Yost, choir conductor.
“She never seemed to mind it when I announced that she was the oldest member of our choir,” Yost said. “She had a beautiful smile.”
Audrey raised her children to appreciate music, too. “She inspired me around music,” said Colleen, who studied music at University of California at Riverside. “Mom drove me every week to piano and organ lessons … it took about 45 minutes each way.”
She was a motherly figure for many in her neighborhood growing up, Colleen said. “She was there for all the children in the neighborhood and encouraged all of us. She was a very loving parent. We went to church throughout my childhood. My parents both loved to cook and they loved children.”
Colleen said that when a 5-year-old with a tough homelife visited, Audrey gave the child a warm greeting, a box of books, alerted the parents, and helped her feel at home.
“She couldn’t get enough of being at our house; it was so much more peaceful than where she lived,” Colleen recalled. Another child in the neighborhood told Colleen she remembers that their home “was the only place you could go and suck your thumb and not be yelled at.”
Colleen said that taking care of her mother in her later years gave her a new perspective.
Clockwise from top: Son-in-law Tom Partridge, Audrey and Colleen.
“I learned to appreciate her more because she lived with us … It’s kind of like the roles changed in a way, and I felt like I was her parent and she was my child, even though it felt different.”
She learned that her mother took time to slow down and enjoy life, Colleen said.
“They say that for most of us, our brains are either in the past or the future, but she was totally in the present moment,” Colleen said. “Whenever I was able to slow down and just be at her pace, I really felt the most at home with her and I felt that compassion. It’s hard in our world to be that way. It’s an important thing to learn that our lives don’t have to be so filled up. I think that the virus is actually helping us learn that, too, in some way.”
Audrey was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Cottage Grove. “People fell in love with her there,” Colleen said. “She had a sparkly smile … She just had a very soft energy and liked to listen to people.”
Audrey had fallen into a coma, and she looked relaxed when she passed away, Colleen said, loved ones surrounding her. The night before she died, Colleen played the piano while a harp played in the background.
“Hearing is supposed to be the last sense that goes, and even though she wore hearing aids, we feel like she felt like she felt our energy, felt what we were saying, and felt that we were trying to be connected with her at the end,” Colleen said.