Having grown up in Elora, Ontario, Stew found the 1953 community in the Stone Frigate compatible and soon his recruit whisking partner, a local boy, had become a close friend. Many of the precious passes and other self-made opportunities were used together. One night in 1954, a rare blind date was arranged and Patricia J. Slater came into his life. Stew's link with Kingston was then forged. He had become like one of my family, staying with or without me in our home, clowning with my sister and brother and spending more and more time with Pat until, in November 1958, they were married in Kingston.
Summers in Camp Borden also put us close to Elora. That first summer we divided our time between the two towns. His family made me just as welcome that year and I grew to appreciate his roots, even meeting Grandma O'Keeffe, a stern and impressive matriarch. We classmates remember Stew as a proud and determined young man, a product of the depression, the war and life in a small Ontario town. Sure of his goals, he served his years in Number 1 Squadron with distinction, spending his final year as Squadron Training Officer. He chose the Armoured Corps and, after a year to obtain his Commerce degree at U. of T., he joined The Lord Strathcona Horse in Calgary. From August 1960 until next April he served with the UN forces in the Congo, now Zaire. In March, 1963, then a Captain, Stew left the regiment. He soon began teaching at West Hill Secondary in Owen Sound and getting involved in the community.
He served as Commanding Officer of the Grey-Simcoe Foresters from May 1968 until April 1971. Having risen steadily in the Grey County Board of Education, he served as Principal of the three high schools and retired as Superintendent of Programming in 1989. Pat, a nurse, was also active and they both became prominent and well-liked members of the communities of Owen Sound and Meaford. In 1990 he ran MPP Bill Murdoch's first successful campaign and won the nomination for the federal PC's in 1992, but was unsuccessful in the debacle of 1993. To paraphrase his Christmas note that year, "It was an interesting year....but I destroyed the Tories."
Pat and Stew bought a condo in Toronto which proved very valuable during treatment the last two years. Stew did enjoy several reunions, the last being the 30th, but soon the class lost touch because he switched from a box number to his street address soon after the '93 election.
Stew was known as a decisive organizer and a quiet natural motivator in his community. He made an impact there and may be a source of admiration to many of his classmates. His motto, printed in the 1957 Review, stood up well over the years; "Ask for the best, expect the worst and take what you get". Stew built on his experience with the college to live a life of service and citizenship of which his family can be proud. I will always remember him. I know that many of our classmates feel the same.
Written by #3928, Donald A. Smithies
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