Your Neighbor: Meet Anne Stewart

Published 12:05 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Anne Stewart learned from an early age about adaptability from frequent moves. Born in England, Stewart moved to the United States in 1962 when her father was offered a job with Singer Hosiery. “After Singer Hosiery had read an article authored by my father, he was offered a position in the United States,” Stewart said.
Stewart said goodbye to all of her extended family for hopes of plentiful opportunities in America. “We first lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and made moves for my father’s career to South Carolina, Tennessee, back to Philadelphia, and then to North Carolina,” Stewart said.

During the many moves, Stewart developed a love for sewing. “My mom has always had an incredible talent and gift for sewing and knitting,” Stewart said. “When my dad gifted me a felt doll to create at 6 years old, I enjoyed the challenge. The arms were different lengths,” Stewart said with a laugh. “However, I really enjoyed sewing from that point forward. I will always be grateful to my mother for teaching me a hobby that has become a lifelong passion. I’m not nearly as talented as she is, but I have enjoyed it tremendously.”

Another part of Stewart’s childhood that was treasured was spending time with her father fishing. “There was a place we would go to pretty regularly when we lived in King,” Stewart said. “It was a way we spent quality time together and I enjoyed our conversations and memories from it.”

Always a studious student, Stewart decided to work immediately after graduating from high school for Hennis Freight Lines. “I worked in the claims department helping with damaged or overloaded freight,” Stewart said. This would turn out to be a beneficial decision both professionally and personally as she met her future husband, Robert at the company. “I remember when I first saw him, I thought he was handsome. At that time, he was married so I didn’t think much of it. However, he tragically lost his wife in a car accident. He ended up asking me out later on when we kept running into each other. We were married in 1975,” Stewart said.

After getting married, Hennis Freight Lines had dissolved. “I decided to become a cosmetologist. “I started at Barbizon Cosmetology School. However, because of Robert’s job we had to move to Virginia, so I had to get 800 additional hours for my license. I got my license there, and as luck would have it, not too long after we moved to Maryland for his job. It was starting to get challenging to continue getting licensed in new states and build a clientele, so I shelved that career choice,” Stewart said. “Instead, I worked for a security company that handled crowd management for concerts and events. It was fun because I got to see Elton John and other famous artists during that time. I also got to help with the Preakness which was very entertaining too.”

Maryland didn’t end up being Stewart’s home permanently. In 1987, they moved to Clemmons, and raised their two children, Jessica (36) and Jason (33) in the tight-knit community. “We had moved all over because of Robert’s job with Orkin, so it was nice to be able to establish roots for our children in Clemmons. My younger brother, Simon, had also worked with Robert in that industry and started his own business because of it, Pest-X Professional Pest Control in the area,” Stewart said. “During that time when the kids were young, I enjoyed volunteering at their schools.” After seeing Stewart’s commitment, she was hired to work in their library and media centers. “I’ve spent the last 20 years in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and enjoyed every minute of it,” Stewart said. Having impacted their library and media centers, at Meadowlark Middle, Ward Elementary, Clemmons Middle, Kimmel Farm Elementary, Kernersville, Southwest Elementary and then finishing at West Forsyth High School, Stewart loved when she saw students pass through during various stages of their academic journeys. “It always felt so nice when a student would remember me from their elementary days as they progressed and got older. I enjoyed building those relationships with them,” Stewart said.

Stewart also was able to bring additional talents to the school system with her sewing. “The first time I made something in the school was at Southwest. Then principal, Matt Dixson had asked me to make a T-shirt quilt because he knew how much I loved sewing to display in the auditorium. It was 22 T-shirts in total, and I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I was doing at the time, but I was excited for the project. I dedicated it to the past and present teachers and staff, and students. I had sewn all my children’s clothes growing up, so I had felt comfortable enough to tackle the project,” Stewart said. “I also did a wall hanging for Kimmel Farm.”

Once Stewart retired from the school system, she took her passion for sewing and embroidery up a notch. “I started making 13-inch tall memory teddy bears with people’s clothing that had passed. It was a nice way to keep someone’s memory alive that reminded them of their loved one. Also, oftentimes when a child outgrows clothing, their parents wanted a favorite item of clothing to be made into a teddy bear. That’s really taken off, and I’ve gotten most of my new clients through referrals,” explains Stewart. “I also purchased two different embroidery machines two years ago and have enjoyed adding that to what I can offer people. What I like to do when creating something is to make it unique. There is nothing mass produced or duplicated so it’s all one-of-a-kind.” Known as the Quilt Diva for her creative diversity, Stewart finds most people reach out to her directly or through social media avenues. “Currently I’m making five quilts for graduation gifts and a mother of the bride dress,” Stewart said. “It’s definitely keeping me busy.”

Another passion and focus for Stewart currently are getting to visit her grandchildren when possible. Stewart’s son Jason is a petty officer first class in the United States Navy and her son in-law, Matt Young is a major in the United States Army. “Because of their stations, it’s tougher to get to see them as frequently as we would like, but I am thankful for FaceTime and the photos they send,” Stewart said. “Jessica has two children and so does Jason. I have a grandson that passed away four days after he was born.” Seeing her children as parents now has been very rewarding. “I’m very proud of my kids and the lives they’ve built for themselves. Fortunately, Robert and I both love to travel, so we are up for visiting them and new places as we embrace retirement,” Stewart said.