Marie Engman Stuard, 93, a longtime Cape May resident who helped her husband, C. Wallace Stuard Jr., run the family funeral business in Ardmore, died Saturday, Aug. 11, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Victorian Manor, a Cape May nursing home.
Born in Erie, she was the daughter of Emelie and Frank Engman. She moved to Cape May at age 13 so that her father could accept an assignment at the Coast Guard station there.
Mrs. Stuard graduated from Cape May High School. She met her husband while jumping off a bridge near Cape May and swimming in the water below. "That's what they did for fun in those days," said their son, C. Wallace Stuard III.
They married and began a life in which the couple split their time between homes in Cape May and Ardmore.
"She loved her active lifestyle with her four children and a sailing husband," the family said.
The couple collaborated in operating the funeral business on Cricket Avenue. He conducted the business side, while she talked with bereaved families.
Mrs. Stuard's husband took over Stuard Funeral Directors in 1940. The business was founded in 1822 by Henry Stuard, a former cabinetmaker. The original office was at 807 S. 16th St. in Philadelphia.
"Undertakers of that time often got their start by making furniture — such as caskets — or provided carriages and wagons," a family history said.
The business was moved to Ardmore in 1898 and remained there at various sites until moving to Newtown Square in 2016. The funeral home is now run by Mrs. Stuard's son.
When not working, Mrs. Stuard played bridge and read. She did volunteer work on the Main Line and at the Shore.
Groups for which she volunteered were the Questers, the Beach Club, the Cottagers, and the Lankenau Hospital Auxiliary. She was a Girl Scout leader and a Pink Lady who helped patients at Bryn Mawr Hospital, and she worked for many years at the Hamper Shop, Lankenau's thrift shop on Montgomery Avenue in Narberth.
She was a longtime member of the Harbor Sailing Club, which became the Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May. In 1952, the Harbor Sailing Club's officers signed an agreement with the City of Cape May to use a tract of undeveloped land at Buffalo and Delaware Avenues for a future club site.
Despite the lack of a clubhouse, the women of the Harbor Sailing Club organized many social and fundraising events, which were sheltered from the elements by funeral tents borrowed by her husband from West Laurel Hill Cemetery, her son said.
Each year, a formal mid-winter ball took place at the Barclay Hotel in Philadelphia. In 1959, Mrs. Stuard chaired the event.
"Enthusiasm was great — time to raise money," said a history of the Corinthian Club. "During intermission, $10,000 was pledged" to buy and shore up additional land.
Mrs. Stuard's life revolved around family and friends.
"She loved lunching at the Lobster House in Cape May, going to the Yacht Club with her ladies, and enjoying life to the fullest," her family said.
Her husband, known as Wally, died in 2010. Her granddaughter Kaela Marie Stuard, 16, died in 2015.
In addition to her son, also known as Wally, she is survived by daughters Karen Jackson, Kris McBurney, and Kory Joyce; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were Wednesday, Aug. 15. Interment was private.