Dr. John Walter Stewart, born March 28, 1928, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 3 in Montevallo.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Isaac Stewart and Maude Carter Stewart, and his wife of 68 years, Lauris Mattina Stewart.
He is survived by his sister, Wanda S. Stewart and three children, John Walter Stewart, Jr., (Kathy), Glenn Alan Stewart (Kelly) and Kevin Floyd Stewart; grandchildren, Kristen Stewart Gannon (Brad), Mary Ann Stewart Holt (David), Michael Alan Stewart, (Leslie), and Laura Meghan Stewart; and five great grandchildren, Mary Isabel Gannon, Ellis Bradford Gannon, Abigail June Gannon, Benjamin Isaac Gannon, and Lukas Bane Stewart.
Dr. Stewart grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, graduating from Biloxi High School in 1946 and Louisiana State University in 1951 and 1952 where he received a BME and MME in Music. He enlisted in the Army from 1952-1954 where he served as conductor of the 4th Army Band’s weekly radio broadcast. Following his military service, he earned his Ed.D from Florida State University in 1961, doing subsequent post-doctoral study in Music Administration at Eastman School of Music in 1967.
Dr. Stewart was appointed associate professor of music at Alabama College in 1961, and in 1963 became chairman of the Music Department. He established the first wind ensemble on campus. In 1972 he was given oversight of the planning and construction of the new music building, now Davis Hall. He was a frequent performer on saxophone and clarinet in department faculty recitals. He was also saxophone soloist with the Birmingham Symphony, clarinetist and guest conductor of the Alabama Pops Orchestra, and conductor of numerous operas and musicals on UM campus. When the College of Fine Arts was created at the University of Montevallo in 1972, Dr. Stewart was named dean.
In 1988, he was named interim president of the university, then president, a position which he held until his retirement in 1992. He counted among the useful accomplishments during that period the restoration of mutual trust and a spirit of collegiality on campus and the construction of the Stewart Student Retreat Center and a Mass Communications Building.
Throughout his career, he was active in numerous professional, educational, and honor organizations. He was on the Board of Directors for Alabama Symphony, Alabama Pops Orchestra, State of Alabama Ballet, and Southern Regional Opera. He was president of the Alabama Association of Music Education Specialists. He was chairman of Alabama Association of College Music Administrators, Alabama Chapter of National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, and the Art and Humanities Council of Shelby County Board of Directors. Among his academic society affiliations are Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Mu Alpha, Pi Kappa Lambda and Kappa Kappa Psi.
Dr. Stewart was a long-time member of Montevallo First United Methodist Church where he served many years as choir director. He was also a Master Mason in Lodge Central 70 in Montevallo.
After retirement, John and Lauris sailed their Pearson sloop, “Lauris”, to the Bahamas each fall, and returned in the spring, realizing a longtime dream of sea travel in a small boat.
A family graveside service was at Montevallo Cemetery on Friday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. A memorial service will be announced later.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Lauris and John Stewart Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Montevallo.