Martha Stewart's Mother - And Mentor - Dies

Martha Stewart Martha Stewart

HARTFORD, Conn. (November 18, 2007) — Martha Kostyra, whose daughter Martha Stewart credits her with teaching her many domestic tricks and techniques, has died at a hospital near her home in Weston. She was 93.

Stewart announced her mother’s death Saturday on her blog, and Weston selectman Glenn Major confirmed the death.

Kostyra, a retired teacher whose family long ago nicknamed her “Big Martha,” died Friday at Norwalk Hospital of undisclosed causes, according to a notice published Saturday in local newspapers.

Kostyra and her husband, the late Edward Kostyra, raised the future domestic doyenne and her five siblings in Nutley, N.J., where, Stewart said, she learned many tricks of what later turned into her trade.

In an appearance together in December 2003 on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Kostyra described herself as “very proud” of her daughter’s accomplishments.

“And you know, the first thing people say to me when they meet me for the first time, they’ll say, ‘Did you teach her everything she knows?‘ Well, I’ll take the credit, certainly,” Kostyra said in the interview.

Until recently, Martha Stewart lived in a Colonial-era estate in Westport, not far from her mother’s Weston home. Stewart put the estate on the market and now lives primarily in Katonah, N.Y., about 20 miles away.

Some of Stewart’s siblings still live near Kostyra’s Weston home, including a sister who lives in town and was often spotted on errands with the matriarch.

“We all knew who she was, but she was low-key and nobody made a big deal out of it,” Major, the selectman, said Saturday. “There are a lot of well-known people who live here, so nobody thinks anything of it to see them around.”

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