Benton — Surrounded by her family at the age of 101, Pauline ‘Polly’ Porter Stuart passed away peacefully at her home in Benton Center on April 3, 2020.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Bruce Stuart; her daughters, Paula Stuart Schultz (62-years-old) and Julia Lynn Stuart (3-years-old), and her only sibling, Virginia Elling. She will be greatly missed by her remaining children Almeda Torriani (Rick) of
Tucson, Ariz., John Stuart (Melissa) of Penn Yan, Joan Stuart (Sandy) of Piermont, Diana Stuart of Portland, Ore., Robert Stuart (Vicki) of Penn Yan, Timothy Stuart (Tracy) of Fairfield, Conn., and Katie Ballard (Kris) of Georgia, Vt.; 16 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren, and her many nieces and nephews. Pauline was the last remaining member of the Porter and Stuart family’s ‘greatest generation’.
Pauline was born in September, 1918 during World War I and at the height of the Spanish Flu Pandemic which consumed Pauline’s mother, Isabel Gage Porter, when she was just 3 months old. Pauline and her sister, Virginia, spent their formative teenage years living through the Great Depression. Pauline graduated from Penn Yan Academy in 1936, graduated from the Ontario Business Institute in Geneva in 1938, and afterwards began a career at the Agricultural Experiment Station of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Geneva.
Pauline married Robert B. Stuart, Jr. in 1941, and during the war years lived in Buffalo, where Robert worked for the War Department. After WWII, the couple moved to Benton Center where together they raised nine children.
Pauline had a rich and fruitful life. She treasured summers living at Keuka Lake and enjoyed family as they visited all summer long. She loved winters at her beloved farmhouse in Benton Center where her ancestors were early settlers of the farm in 1792. Pauline traveled extensively visiting her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and had many adventures around the world.
Pauline was a devoted member of the Penn Yan community. She believed in community volunteerism and was a life-long member of the Benton United Methodist Church, where she was active in the Benton United Methodist Women. Pauline was a regional coordinator for the Western New York State Girl Scouts and organizer of the Seven Lakes Girl Scouts of Yates County. She actively supported the Yates County Arts Council and the Benton Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary, and she was a former board member of the Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home, as well as a volunteer at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital.
In 1967, she was awarded Penn Yan’s Mother of the Year by the Penn Yan Downtown
Merchants Association. She supported her children’s endeavors in local 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and school performing arts and sports. She quietly addressed community members in times of need.
‘Gran’, as Pauline was affectionately known in her later years by all of her family members, never missed a birthday or anniversary. Even as her eyesight began to fail, a card with a special handwritten message for the occasion always arrived in the mail.
Pauline was a determined, independent, and vigorous spirit and had a strong constitution. She was a product of the century of history and the times through which she lived. Her family is the beneficiary of the love and sacrifice that Pauline and her generation made on their behalf. Her example of living a purposeful life and her determination to be relevant to the very end has been an inspiration to all who knew her.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to Pauline’s caregivers, Ontario-Yates Hospice, and the Penn Yan and Benton community members who have provided her with support and joy through the many years of her life.
A private funeral service for immediate family members will be held this week at the Benton Cemetery.
Plans for a memorial service celebrating Pauline’s life will be announced at a future date. The family requests that any memorial donations be directed to either the Benton United Methodist Church, c/o BMC Memorial Fund Administrator, 2625 Bath Road, Penn Yan, N.Y. 14527 or the Benton Volunteer Fire Department, 932 Rte. 14A, Penn Yan, N.Y. 14527.
In these uncertain times, let us all reflect on our blessings, strengthen our family, friend, and community relationships, perform acts of kindness for those less fortunate, embrace the future and the opportunities it offers, and experience every day the gift of being alive as our mother most certainly would have desired us each to do.