Mildred Poole Stewart, who was born and grew up in Sycamore, graduated from Sycamore High School in 1934. She lived most of her life on North Avenue and was an active member of the Israel of God’s church.
In 1943, at the height of World War II, Mildred went to work at Turner Brass in Sycamore. Turner was a factory that made blow torches for the war, but also fire extinguishers, and—top secret at the time—the inflation gear designed to inflate life rafts. Mildred and her fellow employees won three prestigious Army-Navy “E” awards.
When she started at Turner, pay was 35 cents an hour and employees worked a 48-hour work week, but, she said, “it seemed like one big happy family.” Mildred worked at Turner for 37 years, retiring in 1980.
On August 9, 1952, Mildred married George Edward Stewart in Chicago. Originally from Pennsylvania, Stewart who was a carpenter by trade, worked at Anaconda once he moved to Sycamore. They made their home at 355 North Avenue in Sycamore. George died in 1965.
Mildred was also a caregiver for her mother, Betty Sue Poole and adopted her niece’s children Tammie Williams-Shered, Sonja Williams-Knowels, Edwin Williams and Frederick Williams (who is now deceased).
Mildred was pianist and a treasurer for the Sunday school of her church. Her church, where she had been a member for 77 years, donated the property where her home stood “for the improvement and beautification of the community.” The City of Sycamore raised a plaque to honor her memory at the site where her home stood.
Top: Image of Stewart at her retirement party, from Cleanweld Turner “Tornado” newsletter, November 1980. Bottom: Plaque located at North Avenue/Brickville Road in Sycamore.