Obituary: Winifred Tart
Winifred W. Tart, “Freddie,” passed away at home, surrounded by family on July 20, a few days before her 90th birthday. She was born to Marshall and Noreen Fry Watson in California.
Both parents were descendants of Protestant dissenters. Three ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. By the 1850s, both families migrated to the farms of Old Fort, Ohio. However, adverse conditions and the depression led to a move to the San Francisco area, where her father managed projects for an uncle’s construction company.
In 1937, the Watson family returned to Old Fort, the children attending a one-room school. A few years later, Winifred renamed herself Freddie. She went far in the state spelling championship and graduated high school, class valedictorian. Her activity list was a yard long; she designed her own dress patterns from retail ads, then sewed them on her mother’s sewing machine. Her summers were spent working for an uncle’s trucking company and her grandfather’s bank.
Freddie graduated from Wooster College with a degree in economics. She played trombone in the marching band and was head of the Independent Women’s Club. She found work in Chicago, as secretary to Standard Oil of Indiana’s marketing director. He was working on an advanced degree at the University of Chicago and Freddie did much of his research. When he left, she joined the executive secretarial staff, filling in as one of the Chairman’s two executive secretaries. But when a Swedish roommate suggested Freddie join her on travels home throughout Europe, the Queen Mary was boarded, and months of travel ensued. Upon her return, she joined IBM as an instructor in the Midwest Educational Center. When IBM introduced its revolutionary IBM 1401, Freddie became its Midwest instructor, teaching programming applications to the Sales Force. She left this promising position to marry Stephen M. Tart, Jr. an advertising account executive on P&G brands. They soon had three children and moved to Greenwich, CT.
Freddie, a consummate craftsman, fascinated with decorative arts, enrolled in courses at the Isabelle O’Neil School of the Painted Finish in Manhattan. When she moved with her husband to London for several years, Freddie continued studying decorative arts across Europe. Back in the U.S., she became an accredited teacher at Isabelle’s school, specializing in Tortoise Shell and Gilding. When Isabelle died, Freddie shifted her focus to botanical illustration taking courses at the New York Botanical Garden and with Ann Marie Evans at her home in England. During all these years, Freddie continued to knit and sew for pleasure. She was known for her Kaffe Fassett coat which she knit in no time.
When her husband took a consulting assignment in Wroclaw, Poland, then just emerging from Russian/communist domination, she joined him, living in a block-long worker’s flat and grocery shopping in the open-air market in a field nearby. There was much to study: museums, churches, Russian Orthodox services, and small handicraft workshops. She began collecting amber-framed jewelry and religious carvings.
Freddie was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich. She taught Sunday school. Later, she did volunteer work and served as a deacon. However, Freddie felt she did her best service as a Stephen’s Minister. The training deepened, humbled and inspired her. She gave great care and thought to the ministry and felt she had spent a lifetime preparing for this work.
She is survived by her husband of 59 years, three children, their spouses and three grandchildren. Her brothers Ralph and Kenneth Watson predeceased her.
A celebration of her life will be scheduled at a future date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Freddie’s name to the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (tsalliance.org).