May 15, 1922 - January 16, 2017
Mary Jane Sullivan Stuart enjoyed a long life of 94 years on this earth, leaving us on January 16th, 2017. She was born in Dallas, TX on May 15th, 1922. She attended Woodrow Wilson High School and Southern Methodist University where she studied art and fashion design. She studied with Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier and other notable artists of The Dallas Nine. When Jane attended SMU, there were just a few buildings on campus, the surrounding city was dotted with farm fields and street cars provided transportation.
She travelled to Europe – on a ship – in 1953, visiting Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Rome and Venice with her friends. She bought a 1955 Chevy which she drove cross country with friends to California, then to New York City where she worked as a fashion designer in the height of the poise and sophistication of the 1950’s. She met her husband Jeb through friends in 1958. They were married on June 4th, 1960 in Bedford Hills, NY. They enjoyed more trips to Europe and around the US in the early years of their marriage. They had a daughter, Jennifer in 1965. In 1971, they returned to Dallas to live near Jane’s family.
The 1970’s brought a new sense of fashion and Dallas was at the center of it with its 1964 Apparel Mart building. Jane worked as a designer and pattern maker for a local women’s wear manufacturer that kept a showroom at the Apparel Mart. She traveled frequently back to New York for fashion and for family.
In 1978, she began the study of Chinese brush painting and calligraphy and was active in The Association of Oriental Arts for many years. She developed lasting friendships with members of the group as well as an impressive collection of paintings. In 2005, Jane joined together with another group of dear friends who had worked for years in the fashion industry, affectionately called the “Rag Business.” The RAG (Retired Apparel Group) Ladies meet monthly for an elegant luncheon and conversation. We are saddened to learn of the passing of another member of the group this week, Mary Beth Hoeffner.
Jane was delighted with her only granddaughter, Claire who has been influenced by her grandmother’s charm, grace and sense of style. Jane and Claire spent many hours together over books of fashion and costume, the sewing machine and a latch-hook rug that Claire will finish in her grandmother’s honor.
Jane was easygoing, kind, compassionate, graceful, elegant, patient, attentive, and so much more. She was independent and ahead of her time; a woman born in the 1920s who went to school, travelled, and started a career. She spent her young adult years experiencing life and learning rather than immediately marrying and having children, which was trailblazing for all of the women today doing just that.
She is preceded in death by her husband E.R. “Jeb” Stuart, parents Drusy Miller Sullivan and Edward Sullivan, sister Hope Sullivan Miller and brother Robert Sullivan. She is survived by her daughter Jennifer Stuart and granddaughter Claire Stuart Meiner. A memorial service will be held at 4:00 PM on Thursday, January 26th, 2017 at First Unitarian Church of Dallas.