Former Lockport woman blended art, heart
BY DENISE M. BARAN-UNLAND Correspondent June 16, 2013 5:30PM
Mary Stubbe | Supplied photo
Updated: July 18, 2013 6:31AM
Hanging in Kathleen Truitt’s Indiana home is a large oil painting of a mountainous landscape, based on a similar one in Montana, where Kathleen’s mother, Mary Stubbe, formerly of Lockport, lived in the later years of her life.
But Kathleen’s favorite painting features a bowl of carnations, Kathleen’s favorite flowers.
Mary preferred painting landscapes; the detail in carnations challenged her, especially because she tackled that project when she was still learning the nuances of oil painting.
But painting them was something Mary wanted to do for Kathleen.
“She actually painted two of them,” Kathleen said. “Someone saw it and liked it so much, my mother was commissioned to paint another one.”
Mary had sketched when she was young but she didn’t begin painting until Kathleen started college. She initiated her interest by taking classes in oil painting through the Lockport Park District. Through the years, Mary sold some pieces and won awards with others.
“She tried watercolors but didn’t like the way they looked,” Kathleen said. “With oils, if she made a mistake, she could correct it.”
Mary enjoyed crafts, too. In the 1960s and ’70s, Mary worked in ceramics and created bowls, stacked fruit and Christmas trees. Nearly every family member owns a tree Mary made, Kathleen said.
Once Mary and her late husband, DeLyle, moved to Montana, they collaborated on wood Christmas ornaments to sell at their church’s annual bizarre. DeLyle would design them — little sleds and Christmas trees — and Mary would paint them.
As a volunteer, Mary led a craft program at a Montana hospital. Perhaps growing up in a children’s home in Princeton (Mary’s mother, a single mother, had worked at the home) had inspired Mary to share her friendship and talents with others.
Although she was a private person, Mary showed her devotion to her family and friends through her deeds. For the first decades of their 48-year marriage, Mary and DeLyle lived near her family. After DeLyle retired, they moved to Montana to be near his.
That’s when Mary fell in love with mountains and when DeLyle taught her to drive. Because of severe vision problems that weren’t corrected until she was older, Mary didn’t learn until she was 65, but she valued the independence that skill provided her.
After DeLyle died, Mary returned to Lockport to care for her mother. Eventually, Mary moved close to Kathleen. Mary strengthened friendships through playing cards — especially Pinochle, Pan and Blitz — and over coffee.
Whether living in Montana or Indiana, Mary and her friends gathered every afternoon for coffee and conversation. Mary had one quirky love that lasted all the way until her death on Feb. 7 at age 90: black jelly beans.
“Anyone that had a bag of jelly beans saved the black ones for her,” Kathleen said. “If we found a bag that only had black ones, we’d buy it for her.”