Dorothy and Charles Stuart: Sharing Their God-given Blessings
It doesn’t take long into a conversation with Dorothy and Charles Stuart to realize that even in their 80s, they still have a zest for life, as well as a keen sense of humor that has sustained them through many serious illnesses.
The occasion for our visit was to present the Stuarts with the Queen Amelia Award, named after Queen Amelia of France, who was a generous benefactor to Mother Theodore Guerin when she visited there in 1842. The award is given annually to benefactors of the Sisters of Providence who continue that tradition of significant financial support of the Congregation and its mission.
Because of health setbacks, Dorothy and Charles were unable to attend the Mother Theodore Guerin dinner in June to receive the award. General Superior Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, Sister Ann Casper, executive director of the Mission Advancement office, and Sister Joan Zlogar, planned giving manager, journeyed to the Stuart’s home in Indianapolis in July to express our appreciation for their generosity and to present the Queen Amelia Award plaque.
The Sisters of Providence relationship with Dorothy began nearly 70 years ago when she attended Providence Aspirancy, a high school for girls exploring a vocation to religious life. She graduated in 1937 and began a career as a secretary, eventually marrying her boss, Charles Stuart. Dorothy’s niece, now Sister Patricia Melton, entered the Congregation in 1945, thus solidifying a thread of connection that over the years has become a tightly woven tapestry of friendship and support.
Charles owned an Oldsmobile dealership in Indianapolis, and, when sisters were given permission to drive, the pastor of his parish turned to Charles to supply the car. “I chose a current model of the Oldsmobile Cutlass. When I delivered it, I learned that the school bus driver was going to teach them to drive!” he recounted with a laugh. “They made it through about three months before the first accident.”
That was the first of several cars supplied to the sisters.
Through the years there were many such in-kind gifts to different Sisters of Providence — use of Florida condos for a vacation, credit cards for gas and meals as they traveled, invitations to the Stuart’s home for a cook out and a swim. But there was also much more.
Being an astute businessman (after all, Charles tells of taking the advice of his accountant and marrying Dorothy Dec. 27 rather than Jan. 15 to take advantage of the tax break), Charles recognized the charitable annuity as a planned gift that creates a win-win situation for both the donor and the organization. He and Dorothy have several large annuities with the Sisters of Providence. Through the years these gifts have supported important ministry and capital improvement priorities.
One gets the sense in talking with the Stuarts that the driving force in their widespread philanthropic efforts is a simple one — concern for others and a desire to share their God-given blessings. To our way of thinking, they are doers of Providence par excellence and well deserving of the 2005 Queen Amelia Award.