Polly Stewart
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1943 ~ 2013
Polly Stewart died February 3 in Salt Lake City of intestinal cancer.
She was born July 27, 1943 SLC to Justin and Martha Stewart. A brilliant girl, she attended Wm. M. Stewart School, East High, and University of Utah, taking part in plays and musical productions and developing abilities as a folksinger. Married Charles Deemer, Eugene, Oregon, 1966, later divorced. She earned her PhD at the University of Oregon, the first graduate student of Barre Tolkien. A specialist in Medieval studies and folklore, Polly taught at Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD for 30 years, with a particular interest in oral history, urban legends and comparative myth. Polly worked with undergraduates to form the first LGBT student group on campus. Her significant work in the fields of folklore, feminism and local history is documented in a series of works she edited, essays, articles, monographs and book and journal reviews. She enjoyed travel, notably to Iceland, the U.K. and Vietnam. Polly returned to Salt Lake City in 2004 to enjoy her retirement. In 2006, inspired by reminiscences with folk singer Utah Phillips, she spearheaded the Urban Pioneers 1960's Folk Music Revival Concert, a Utah Humanities Council granted-funded project which also interviews local folk musicians, notably Rosalie Sorrels, Utah Phillips, Polly and the Valley Boys, Hal Cannon and many others. This delightful project has is being archived, soon to be available online. Polly supported the activities of Utah Pride Center, American Folklore Society, Salisbury University Nabb Research Center, Salisbury University Wildfowl Museum, University of Utah School of Humanities, University of Oregon Folklore Program, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU of Utah, Human Right Campaign, and Unitarian Universalists. She was a member of the Salt Lake Choral Society with a stellar soprano voice. Polly was a lode star and mentor to countless people in the Gay Pride and AA communities. Survivors include Kate Miller, daughter; Geoffrey and Annie, grandson and granddaughter; brother, Peter Stewart, Seattle; sister and brother-in-law, Heather and Mike Dorrell, Salt Lake City.
Memorial service, March 17th, 2-4 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 569 South 1300 East, SLC. "Now sleep the crimson petal, now the white" - Tennyson. Rest well.


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Published in Deseret News from Feb. 8 to Feb. 9, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
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50 entries
February 3, 2021
Many of us at Salisbury University continue to treasure our memories of Polly and continue to be impacted by the goodness she brought into our lives. She challenged us to become better thinkers and better persons.
Jerome Miller
March 6, 2013
Polly and I were in the University Chorale back in the early 1990s. I remember talking with her during breaks in rehearsals about the music we were preparing. I loved those talks.

Around the same time I was also a student of in Polly's Bible as Literature course. It was, like all the courses she taught, quite special. I will never forget the day we discussed Isaiah. At one point in our discussion, she read this passage aloud:

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

As she reached the last lines she wept. That moment will never leave me.

Polly, I will always be grateful to you for helping me to grow both as a student and as a human being.
Jason Danner
March 2, 2013
Polly was a wonderful presence in our academic community here in Salisbury Maryland for many years. She was especially esteemed by us in the Philosophy Department, because of her active engagement in philosophical debate and her regular participation in our annual "Spring Symposium." At one of the last of these events that she attended, we publicly announced our adoption of her as an "honorary member" of the Philosophy Department of Salisbury University. We ourselves were honored by her companionship. And a great many of our students were changed by her patient devotion and thoughtful encouragement.
Jerry Miller
February 16, 2013
Polly was such a wonderful human - she shared her experience to make a difference - and did so in my life. I will always remember her insightful sharing and how focused she was on helping me to make change in my life. She will be missed, but forever held in many hearts.
Heather
February 15, 2013
Your legacy lives on in our hearts and minds. Thank you for being our angel.
Christian Allred
February 15, 2013
Polly,
I was devastated when I heard the news. I still have a hard time believing that this is real and expect to look at my phone to see you're calling and are ok. I wish I'd gotten to say goodbye and tell you I love you once more.

You've changed my life in so many profound ways, have been the light to guide me through some of the most difficult times in my life and have made more of an impact on my life for the better than you ever knew. I love you so dearly and there is a huge space in my life and my heart with your name on it. I can still hear your voice in my head, your laugh and feel your hugs. You will be remembered and cherished in my heart for as long as I live.

You truly were an angel that touched the lives of everyone you encountered. Rest in peace, my dear friend. I love you.
Christian Allred
February 15, 2013
Polly,
My dear friend and fellow traveler. The nights we rode in the Duchess to attend functions far and wide. It was a delight to share with you in the car about how good life was. You will be truly missed. Your friend, Ray
Raymond Jarvis
February 15, 2013
My dearest cousin Polly; Oh how I'll miss your sunny disposition, your beautiful voice and your genuine infectious laughter. I have many fond memories of our years together in the canyon, especially at family song fests. Someone as special as Polly will never be forgotten. She was a remarkable person to be remembered and a beautiful life honored. My sincere condolences to Peter and Heather and extended family members.
Patti Stewart Ireton
February 15, 2013
Polly was a UU Sunday school student of mine and a life long friend. A dedicated Humanist. She added so much joy and knowledge to our world. Flo Wineriter
Florien Wineriter
February 14, 2013
Meeting Polly in Al Anon -- and then reading, thinking, laughing, and, at times, crying together in a seven-year book group -- and then hearing her sing solo on stage a Utah Phillips 'rain' song she used to sing with him, I speak to her grace, her beauty, her brilliance, her wit, her love, and, yes, her irreplaceable laugh. I will feel her here with us always, and I will look for her in the mists when we're no longer here.
Stephanie Pace
February 14, 2013
Polly Stewart was an amazing woman - She never told me of all her amazing accomplishments in her life - I knew that she had sang with a choral group, supported the Rainbow Conference - she was my AA and Alanon sponsor - she was a very humble woman - I am so glad to hear of all the things that she did that I never knew about. I am very proud to have shared a little bit of her life - I thought she was going to beat the cancer but it wasn't to be - the last time I talked to her she said that we would have time together, but that it was going to take a long time for to heal - her voice was so weak that I knew she might not make it - Polly is the second sponser I have lost during my sobriety - the first one was Ruth Dougherty - she wasn't suppose to die either but she did.
I will remember each of them with great fondness and love. I pray for all of Polly's family and friends who loved her so much.
Dee R
Dee Rose
February 14, 2013
So often remembered as a great personal mentor. I speak of Polly often in my own classes and recall her gentleness, her humor, and her great intellect. What a terrible loss! What a life well spent!

Becki Chalmers
Bismarck, North Dakota
February 13, 2013
Condolences to Polly's family. She was my second cousin and our parents had neighboring cabins in Provo Canyon. I met many of my relatives in the social atmosphere that she and her family provided at their place in the canyon and in Salt Lake City. She discovered some old documents belonging to an ancestor for me. Thank you Polly and family for your contributions to my life and many many others. Robert Bennion.
Robert Bennion
February 12, 2013
Dearest Polly, so well loved, so highly regarded, a life that touched so many lives so deeply. Thank you for the gift of knowing you, as a teacher, as a friend, and as the remarkable person that you are. You are gone from us far too soon. Wherever and everywhere you are now, rest in peace, and know that I will always hold you close.
Rosemary Truitt
February 12, 2013
We will miss your gentle soul, your harmonizing voice with your sister, Heather, at family New Year parties, and your witty humor and insights. Rest in peace, dear friend.
Barbara and Charles Pioli
February 12, 2013
It is a big grief to hear the sad news of Dr. Polly Steward's passing away.

She will be remembered by her friends in Vietnam for her love and her friendship for Vietnam. I myself cherish the fond memories of working with her and visiting her classes when I spoke about Vietnam, of her visit to Vietnam, of being together with her colleagues in the Vietnam Group, etc.

May her soul rest in peace!
Thuy Hoang
February 11, 2013
Polly was a committed and enthusiastic supporter of musical arts and people. How lucky we were to have her expertise on the SLCA board. I've never known anyone to take minutes like Polly. Isn't it great to be able to count on people and call them your friend.
Jan Garbett
February 11, 2013
In this disposable society we hear all too often "you are replaceable." Polly Stewart, you are irreplaceable.
Sean Parker
February 11, 2013
Dr. Polly Stewart was an exceptional scholar, trail-blazer, and warm-hearted individual. She will long be remembered on the Salisbury University campus for her excellent teaching and mentorship of thousands of students, but also for her role in making our campus a more inclusive, supportive community. As President, I'm especially grateful for her having established a supportive campus network for gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered students, faculty and staff.
Janet Dudley-Eshbach
February 10, 2013
The love and light that was Polly will forever live in my heart. I shall miss our breakfast gatherings at the Girl Scout Camp every Fall and that beautiful, generous smile!
Gail Griffin
February 10, 2013
I would like to thank everyone for their loving care and words for my Polly. Life moves on though this is just tough for me right now. My memories of her are a tremendous source of peace for me right now. She touched us all. Sharon Griffiths #801-703-67774
February 9, 2013
What do you say about someone as dramatic as Polly. In the words of a wonderful song: "how do you Thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?" Thank you Dear Polly for joining this part of your journey with me. Forever I will carry what you gave me in my heart and do my best to be the example you showed us. Go gently and sing your beautiful songs. We who are left behind will take care of one another.
Darlene Bartholio
February 9, 2013
Back in 1989-1990 I had the pleasure of taking a specialized English Literature class taught by Polly Stewart. It was at Salisbury State University and the class was Arthurian Literature. That class was wonderful! It made me read a lot each night, but I was enamored with the source material. Polly helped me to see that there were many different versions of the Legend of King Arthur. My favorite novel we read was the "Mists of Avalon", by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This ended up being my favorite because it was told from the point of view of Morgana Lefay (I hope I spelled that right). Polly told me that she enjoyed this version because it presented Morgana in such a powerful role - giving insight into her persona and what gave drove her character. She was presented as a powerful woman who was trapped in a bad situation that had to find strength in herself to persevere. Polly was kind enough to allow me to do a home made comic book about the Arthurian legend as my big project. My friend Beau Hall and I worked hard to come up with a finished project that we were both proud of. That was probably my favorite semester out of my years at Salisbury State University and I owed it to Polly for allowing me to be as creative as I wanted to be. Through the years since then, I have thought back to that class as I have re-read the "Mists of Avalon", and it always made me think about Polly Stewart and her encouraging words. She will be missed by all of the people whose lives she had touched. I am proud to count myself as one of those people who was lucky enough to have been embraced by her kindness and support. Now, I think I need to dig out my copy of the "Mists of Avalon" and get to re-reading it again...
William Pattison
February 8, 2013
I had Polly for freshman English and kept in touch through the years before she left Salisbury. She always believed in me from day one when she saw me as a scared new freshman who was trying to get my bearings. She not only helped me get through Freshman Enlish but my first year. I raduated in Dec 1987. Polly meant a lot to me and I feel so fortunate that she touched my life. She was a very special lady and will be missed. I'm so thankful that the last time I saw her I got a chance to tell her that she meant a lot to me and that I loved her. I send my condolences to her friends, family, and colleagues. Polly you will be missed.
Ruth Tribbitt Larsen
February 8, 2013
I knew Polly when she was young and after she retired. Sadly, I missed the in-between.
Calvin Petersen
February 8, 2013
Polly, you were my teacher, my colleague, my friend, and my guardian in many ways. I cannot quite handle your loss. All my love, admiration, and respect.
Dorothy Yeatman
February 8, 2013
Like an early mornining mist rising off the tranquil surface of a resposed lake our beloved Polly has ascended.

Community Scholar
James S. Lane
February 8, 2013
I met Polly at the American Folklore Society Annual Meetings many years ago. I think it might have been 1988. I can't begin to say how much I'll miss her. Some people--and this is rare--come to represent the very best of being a human on this earth. Polly was one of those. Very special. She left an imprint--follow Polly and you'll always do good.
Kay Turner
February 8, 2013
I have only known Polly for a short time. She made such an impression on me and I was so looking forward to getting to learn more about this remarkable woman. God speed, Polly
February 8, 2013
Dear Polly, Who could have guessed that when I saw you last September it would be for the last time. How I wish I had another chance to give you a great big hug, and to tell you how I have always admired your talent, your intellect, your warmth, and your gift of friendship.
Linda Marion
February 8, 2013
You have been a blessing to us all, as a colleague, friend, and mentor.
Luisa Del Giudice
February 8, 2013
Polly's remarkable spirit will continue to illuminate the world and live within all of us who were fortunate to know her. I'll always remember the Smithsonian Field School experience in Salisbury and Crisfield, MD.
Roz Croog
February 8, 2013
As I wrote on Polly's Facebook page: I'll miss seeing you at AFS [American Folklore Society annual meeting]! I'll miss going on tours with you! I'll miss your contributions to MAFA [Middle Atlantic Folklore Association], your wise counsel, and your wonderful sense of humor! Most of all, I'll miss YOU!
Marilyn White
February 8, 2013
RIP my dear sweet Polly you have been a bright light to alot of people and guided us though so many storms you are deeply loved and will be missed so badly
linda white
February 8, 2013
Dear Polly,
Our loblolly pine, who stood tall, high above our shoulders, fearless. Much love to you always.
Maria Gonzalez
February 8, 2013
Polly, you always had uplifting and cheerful words, along with a warm hug. You will be sorely missed.
Sondra Larsen
February 8, 2013
Polly never stopped being a scholar of life and a mentor. I will long associate her with patterned scarves, monthly calendars with miniscule appointments written in pencil, and well-spoken words. She talked about reducing the number of commitments on her plate, but I doubt this is how she meant to do it. Her warm and welcoming influence has enriched my life immeasurably. Godspeed. Rest in peace.
Jennifer Shaw
February 8, 2013
Polly and I were good friends at Stewart School. We were very young, but even then I sensed there was something very special about her. Sleepovers at their wonderful house in the Avenues were high points in my life. This is a huge loss, and I am so, so sorry.
Linda Boyle West
February 8, 2013
Polly and I were good friends at Stewart School. Even then she was pretty much a force of nature. This is a huge loss, and I am so, so sorry.
Linda Boyle West
February 8, 2013
Dear Polly, Family and Friends,

What a gift to have known and been inspired by Polly! She is an icon and blessed so many here in Salisbury and in all her many worlds. A true but quiet leader and legend. May her many legacies continue to be felt and carried by those of us who were fortunate, indeed, to have her in our lives. With deep gratitude for such a wonder-filled being, Jennifer Berkman
Jennifer Berkman
February 8, 2013
Polly was a true inspiration to many. She always had the ability to say the things I needed to hear. I Loved working the URR with her. Til we meet again, dear sweet sister. Love, Mary
mary alder
February 8, 2013
Polly you were such an inspiration to me and so many others. I will miss you so much.
Kris Kopper
February 7, 2013
Always such kind soul with such wisdom to share, Polly will be missed by so many who had the privilege to know her grace and kindness.
Amy Wilson
February 7, 2013
Polly, you will missed by so many sober women, whose lives you touched.
Jackie Hammer
February 7, 2013
Polly it has been an honor knowing you and sharing thoughts. I will smile when I think of you
joana weaver
February 7, 2013
Polly was a remarkable woman in so many ways--a talented folklorist and scholar, an incredible role model and mentor to so many, a demonstration of walking courage and a loving friend to many. We are greater for her time here.
Dennis Pataniczek
February 7, 2013
I will miss you, Polly.
Shanna Ehman
February 7, 2013
Friend, mentor, glorious voice - you made the world so much a better place and blazed a path for so many of us. Rest now in peace, your dance card as full as always I am sure for that has always been your joy to be doing for others always.
Doris Gelbman
February 7, 2013
Polly was one of the most kind, gentle, gracious, and compassionate people I've ever met. She meant a lot to me, and I can't believe she's gone. She gave me recent guidance and direction that meant more to me than words can express. My heart breaks for her family, and friends who were also part of her family. The world is a better place because of her many talents and gifts.
Lynda Lee
February 7, 2013
"Lode Star" is a good word. You were my lode star, and you will continue to provide celestial navigation and guidance for so many of us. I feel fortunate that I got to know you in the rooms of AA.
Karma Wayman
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