RIP my Grandma Lorraine, we will all miss you very much
My Grandma Lorraine passed away November 25, 2011 in Glenrock, WY

She is survived by one son and six daughters, 18 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren (with one more on the way)

The above photo was the last time I saw Grandma, in August 2010
She was full of life and still ran circles around everyone
She was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year
and made it through her first rounds of treatment
but increasingly grew weaker...  Mom and Dad went to Wyoming for two months this summer to take care of her, but recently returned to California.  They couldn't convince Grandma to leave Wyoming,
which was her home. 

She passed away the early morning after Thanksgiving. 

My cousin Jessica, the oldest of Grandma's 18 grandchildren, wrote this about Grandma...

"God there she goes down the hill in a go cart with no breaks red hair blowing in the wind. God there she goes down the street on a moped with a basket on the back red hair blowing in the wind. God there she goes chasing that rooster with a rake red hair blowing in the wind. God there she goes down the waterslide 60 years behind her red hair blowing in the wind. God here she comes to heaven with wings of an angel red hair blowing in the wind. Rest in peace grandma."

And my sister Kristine wrote this:

"Lillian Lorraine Stewart (she was known by her middle name), born in Pacific Beach, California in 1930, died November 25, 2011 in Glenrock, Wyoming after receiving treatments for lung cancer.

Though she had spent most of her adulthood in Lakeside, California, Lorraine was adamant that she spend her final days in Wyoming, her home for the past decade. This was important to Lorraine as she had spent a part of her childhood in Wyoming and had also raised several of her seven children there. 

Before moving to Wyoming, Lorraine lived for more than 40 years in Lakeside, California, in a home touched by magic. Its floors wobbled and sloped at impossible angles, the ceilings were low, and the bedroom opened into what seemed to be a funhouse of mirrors – rooms led to more rooms led to even more rooms. There were clothes to play dress up in, strings of pearls and costume jewelry to dazzle and rouge to color the lips and cheeks. But what bewitched her grandchildren most was her collection of dolls – hundreds of which lined shelves and filled closets. Dolls made in Germany, in France, in the United States. Dolls of porcelain bisque, cloth and plastic. Dolls with pouty lips, eyes that blinked and arms that gestured. Dolls of modern presidents, Barbie dolls and kewpie dolls. Along with these marvels, music played from hinged wooden boxes housing ballerinas dancing in pirouettes. Grandma permitted us to play with nearly all her dolls. She would pop her head into the rooms where we created our make believe worlds; she was unobtrusive, she merely wanted to ensure we were safe and entertained. But she was no softie. She enforced eating every bite of dinner and did not tolerate whining or sloppy execution of chores. She did not care what other people thought of her. She spoke her mind and never understood political correctness. If she thought you were getting a bit overweight she told you.

Outside her Lakeside house were more adventures to be had – turkeys, chickens, doves, a shaggy black dog named Patches, dozens of hiding places and caches of metal objects and tools for pretending nearly anything. At Grandma Lorraine’s house all games were possible, any story could come true. All that was needed was time and cousins, which were in abundance. All of us grandchildren played until darkness took hold. We danced and ran and hid from foes. We gathered eggs, chased the turkeys, dressed as kings and queens and ate more cookies than we ever had permission to do. We spied on our mothers, fathers and aunts and uncles through a special hole in the bathroom that looked into the kitchen. We played with Simon Says in the electric glow of that warm living room decorated each Christmas as if by fairies. The adults enjoyed Grandma Lorraine’s home too, talking long into the night, smoking cigarettes on the front porch and laughing so hard they said their sides hurt.

Grandma raised a large family through thick and thin. She was married several times, (men found her red hair and blue eyes irresistible) but found that her true love was the land of central Wyoming where she lived below the Rocky Mountains, close by the Platte River. Wyoming, she said more than once, was home.

Lorraine worked hard to feed her children, often putting in countless hours at multiple jobs. Her mental toughness and energy were legendary – into her eighth decade she ran circles around everyone and suffered no fools. Though she was not sentimental, she surprised us all when she brought home a peach-colored, dainty teacup poodle she named Shadow. She spoiled her little dog and doted on her more than she had ever doted on all her previous animals.

She was an enthusiastic gambler, especially when she played slot machines. She would shoot off like a dart to find just the right lucky spot, choosing her station carefully by the color and glow of its screen. We would lose sight of her inside Barona Casino she moved so fast. But where Lorraine was most at home was at a yard sale or inside a resale store; if there had been an Olympic event for thrift store shopping she would have been a gold medal holder. She could bargain down to the price she really wanted to pay. She found paintings, furnishings, clothing and dolls of exquisite provenance at the most ordinary of stores. On more than one occasion she believed she would be made rich by re-selling one of these purchases, but research I conducted often proved otherwise. Yet she was ever hopeful and hosted a daily yard sale on the front porch. When Antiques Roadshow premiered on PBS my sister and I rejoiced – Grandma’s vocation was now a widely celebrated American pastime. When eBay became popular we helped sell one of the most unique dolls she ever owned – Queen Elizabeth the II of England in her full coronation dress.

My sister is pregnant; and though her child will never meet his Great Grandma Lorraine, he will know her, for he will surely hear the many stories of the woman with the red hair blowing in the wind, her heart always seeking Wyoming’s wide open spaces – and yard sales!"


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