Ida Lee (Lemon) Stuart Funeral service was held Saturday, September 14th, at Shipman Funeral Home in Wagoner, Oklahoma, for longtime Wagoner resident Ida Lee Stuart, who passed during her sleep in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 11, 2019, just weeks shy of her 90th birthday. Born to Margaret (Whiteley) and Johnnie Lemon, Sr. in Broken Arrow, OK on November 3, 1929 (remember this it's relevant later), the family soon thereafter moved and settled in Pawhuska, OK, where she would later graduate from Pawhuska High School. Not long out of high school, Ida Lee would win both a beauty pageant and the heart of a young Army soldier just returning from occupied Japan (Robert D. "Bob" Stuart). She later lost the pageant trophy somewhere, but always kept a tight rein on the soldier's heart through 66 years of marriage.
All too frequently during each of those 66 years, Bob loved to refer to the date of Ida Lee's birth, not-so-subtly suggesting her emergence actually triggered the Great Depression. What might have been perceived as a rather churlish remark by some was easily recognized by all who knew her for what it really was: pure irony. Anyone actually knowing Ida Lee also knew that the last thing she could ever bring about was depression. No, quite the opposite this lady's stock-in-trade was to bring joy, and bunches of it, to everyone who knew her. She was one of those people that, upon realizing the day's fate was to include crossing her path, you'd catch yourself walking a bit faster so as to accelerate that always delightful encounter.
In retrospect, this daughter of an oilfield driller unknowingly became a pioneer of what we now call "recycling", as her wardrobe included dresses made out of repurposed flour sacks. Perhaps that's why as an adult, she was always "dressed-to-the-nines". Classybut never snobbish; confidentbut never arrogant; compassionate but never condescending. Certainly it was the later virtue that, as you walked away from a conversation with Ida Lee, consistently caused a uniform second reaction. (Your first reaction was always: "How can she be exactly the same every day?") That unavoidable secondary realization occurring no more than a few parting steps away from your fortuitous meeting would hit you like a ton of bricks, as you embraced the fact that you now felt better about you. You had to. If someone like Ida Lee cared that much for you (and she did), then you must be pretty special. The conclusion, like her salt-of-the-earth charms, was inescapable. Hyperbole? Ask yourself this: How many sons-in-law INSIST that one of their children be named after their mother-in-law?
Ida Lee and Bob came to Wagoner in 1948 when "Highway" 51 leading into town was still a gravel road. In a nutshell, together they were builders. They built their careers (Bob, a banker and Ida Lee, a stenographer for the State of Oklahoma DHS); they built their family (3 kids: Debby, Greg, and Jeanann); and they helped build their community. Ida Lee served the DHS for 36 years, during which time her 3 kids all learned to cease inquiring when clothes would mysteriously go missing from their closet. (Simple explanation, really: Ida Lee would get the inside-DHS-scoop on someone in need, so her kids often made 'donations', only discovering afterwards their obviously uncontrollable generosity.) After retiring from the DHS in 1987, Ida Lee continued on the Board of Directors of the American Bank while concurrently volunteering at the Wagoner Lake Association with her dearest friends, Janelle Semore and Loranda Limon... serving in both roles until the time of her passing.
Ida Lee was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Bob; an infant son; and the eldest of her three brothers, Johnnie Lemon, Jr. (She could throw a rock better than all three.) She is survived by her brothers, Maynard and Wayne Lemon; her daughter, Debby (Stuart) Hall and her husband, Jimmy of Wagoner; her son, Greg Stuart and wife, Barbara, also of Wagoner; and her daughter, Jeanann (Stuart) Randall and her husband, Bruce of Tulsa; four grandchildren, Shannon (Hall) Blackford and husband, Casey, Jim David Hall, Joseph and James Lee Randall; and three great grandchildren, Hayden, Caroline, and Reid Blackford.
Ida Lee embodied the best of us even amongst her peers in The Greatest Generation. In that regard, truly she represented well the "best-of-the-best". We will miss her dearly.