Stella Grant was a Liverpool war bride who had long ago mastered the art of the wry joke and the stiff upper lip.
“You could always rely on her,” said Rena Scott, a friend and one of “The Girls,” a group of transplants from Australia and the British Isles who met every Thursday for five decades. “She wasn’t a complainer — she dug her heels in if there were any problems.”
Born in Liverpool in 1922, she was a teenager during World War II when her parents built a backyard bomb shelter. Her daughter Christine Bobinski said Grant, who died last month at 89, told stories of her life during wartime, of reknitting tattered sweaters and racing to the shelter, a pit at the bottom of the family garden.
“She learned to see the good in whatever she had and be very grateful for whatever she had,” said Bobinski, 61, of Absecon.
Those wartime experiences allowed Grant to approach life’s slings and arrows, of which there were many, without a hint of bitterness. After marrying Walter Grant, an American Navy officer and her husband for more than 60 years, in Childwall Abbey, they moved to Atlantic City in 1946. They later moved to Pleasantville, before living at Brandall Estates Assisted Living in Linwood.
“Coming to this country was a huge challenge,” Bobinski said. “She always tells this story of arriving to New York in July in a red, wool suit. No one told her about the hot temperatures in this country.”
Once here, Grant found kinship with other war brides and developed friendships that would last her entire life. Scott, 80, of Northfield by way of Scotland, said her friend was a talented cook and a sympathetic ear.
“When you called, your tea and cookies were always ready,” she said. “Even when she was in assisted living ... we’d start talking about things from way back and have a good laugh.”
And Grant never lost touch with her British roots, said her son W. Bruce Grant, 55, of Mays Landing.
“I was very lucky as a kid because we’d go on trips back and forth by ship to visit my grandmother and a whole cast of relatives,” he said. “She was the link from family to family.”
Whether times were abundant or lean, W. Bruce Grant said his mother made the best of every situation.
“She always made the people around her feel special, whether it was kid’s birthdays or Christmas or graduations,” he said.
Bobinski said even financial hardship, a serious car accident and a protracted battle with a debilitating neuromuscular disorder didn’t shake Grant’s positive attitude.
“I was around 9 years old when she was involved in a bad car crash and almost died,” she said. “But I can remember her coming home from the hospital with her jaws wired together, having a smile and a sense of humor. She got on with it.”
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