MONTREAL - Pioneering philanthropist Liliane M. Stewart passed away Saturday at the age of 85, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of giving that spanned a number of institutions and industries.
“These are multimillion dollar gifts that have put the Macdonald [campus of McGill University] and the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on a totally new path,” said Chandra Madramootoo, the dean of the Macdonald Campus.
During the time that Stewart headed the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, she made substantial gifts to the Universite de Montreal, McGill University, many Montreal-area hospitals and several other artistic and cultural institutions.
“The Chateau Ramzay, Heritage Montreal, Les Amis de la Montagne, the Canadian Centre for Architecture,” ticked off Bruce Bolton, the foundation’s executive director.
Hired by the Stewart’s husband, the late tobacco magnate David Macdonald Stewart, in 1966, Bolton said Stewart was at home rubbing elbows with the humble and elite alike.
“She would have a great conversation with the doorman at her apartment, or the cleaner here, and just as easily the next minute, she’s talking to some of the great VIPs of the world.”
Stewart was born in Alexandria, Egypt to a Czech father and an Italian mother who worked in the tea trade.
She moved to New York City after the Second World War and moved to Montreal when she married Macdonald Stewart.
Her elegance and artistic flair are on permanent display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where her donations make up the bulk of the decorative art collection.
“We are now one of the most important museums for decorative arts and design,” said Nathalie Bondil, the director of the Museum. “And it’s thanks to her.”
A funeral for Liliane Stewart will be held May 13 at the Notre Dame Basilica. She died almost 30 years to the day after her husband.
© Shaw Media, 2014