Rev. Dr. Robert Stewart of Carmel, Indiana, died at 7:30 in his home
Thursday, May 26, surrounded by family members and caretakers. He was
ninety-two years young, and as recently as September, 2010, had
boarded a lobster boat which delivered him to an island off Portland,
Maine, to officiate his granddaughter’s wedding.
Always a man who believed in making a difference, Rev. Dr. Stewart
will be remembered for his commitment to family and faith. As a young
man growing up in Niles, Michigan, he was the son of a barber and one
of three boys in a Depression era family’s household; interestingly
all three young men later became ordained ministers, but Rev.
Stewart’s call was not immediate. After graduating from the University
of Notre Dame with a law degree in 1942, flying as a Navy bomber pilot
with the Flying Irish, and working in the FBI as a special agent, he
answered a call to the ministry. In 1952 he graduated from Louisville
Theological School and began to serve as a pastor.
Beginning as a pastor preaching to a small rural congregation
worshipping in a tiny community near Salem, Indiana, he served Beech
Grove Church. After receiving his theological degree, he moved to
Greenwood, Indiana, and served as the pastor of the Greenwood
Presbyterian Church; then moved on to serve as Field Representative of
the National Board of Missions.of the Indiana Synod of Presbyterian
churches, a position he held for two years. A love for the role of
parish pastor called him to answer a new challenge, and in 1955 he
returned to serve a group of one hundred dedicated people hoping to
start a new church. From that small group grew Orchard Park
Presbyterian Church in Carmel, Indiana; ten years later Orchard Park
had over 1,000 parishioners, and the time arrived for another new
challenge. In 1966 he was installed as the minister of Westminster
Presbyterian Church near Milliken University in Decatur, Illinois.
Serving as the pastor to the congregation, Rev. Dr. Stewart also
enjoyed and nurtured the musical connections between the church and
Milliken. Today a Milliken University scholarship bears tribute to
Doris and Bob Stewart. In addition, Rev. Dr. Stewart was nominated
and designated as Pastor Emeritus of Westminster.
Bob Stewart was a man who believed in serving both parish and
community, and he was very involved in numerous roles in addition to
the traditional roles of the church minister. In Decatur, Illinois,
he served on the Board of the Kimmerer Children’s Village, St. Mary’s
Hospital and the local Salvation Army. While in the Indianapolis
area, he was Moderator of the Indianapolis Presbytery, Chairman of the
Board of Missions, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the
Jordan Family YMCA, and a volunteer at St. Vincent’s Hospital in
Carmel and the Lighthouse Mission in downtown Indianapolis.
When most people retire, they slow down, not the Stewarts. While in
Decatur, Bob read a job advertisement in a ministerial publication,
applied and was hired as the chaplain for the Exxon community in
Aruba. For two years, home became the Exxon Compound; however,
longing for stateside called ,and the Stewarts returned to America to
accept Bob’s call to become a Parish Associate at Second Presbyterian
Church in Indianapolis. He served there until a second retirement
fourteen years later.
As dear to him as his faith was his family, and he was the center of
many milestones. He officiated at both sons’ and only daughter’s
weddings, baptized seven grandchildren, officiated at five of their
weddings, and baptized one great granddaughter. He leaves a legacy of
anniversary, birthday and graduation celebrations and a treasure of
handwritten notes of encouragement and laughter. Most dearly he
leaves a portrait of a loving marriage’s partnership of sixty-seven
years. He and Doris were a team; even their e-mail address of BODO
bears tribute to their commitment to each other.
Bob Stewart was a man who loved life and will continue to be a gentle
and reassuring presence in many ordinary parts of his family’s life:
the Notre Dame fight song( his phone ring), his favorite church hymn
“Be Thou My Vision”, and the sound of a strong, reassuring voice of
His immediate family survivors include: his wife Doris; his two sons
R. Steven Stewart ( wife Pam) of Noblesville, Indiana: Dr. John
Stewart ( wife Jan) of Portland, Maine: his daughter Marcia Stewart
Breckenridge (husband Dan) of Rindge, New Hampshire; grandchildren
Robert Breckenridge ( wife Trish) of Keene, New Hampshire; Nathan
Breckenridge of Rindge, New Hampshire, Evan Breckenridge of Homosa
Beach, California; Nick Stewart of Indianapolis, Indiana, Molly
Stewart Murray ( husband Jimmy) of Chicago, Illinois; Anna Stewart
Turcotte (husband Joey) of Portland, Maine, Sam Stewart ( wife Dana)
of Austin, Texas and one great granddaughter Ava Stewart of Austin,
Texas. Also surviving are two brothers: Rev. Dr. Roy Peterson of
Michigan and Rev. Col Stephen Peterson of Texas.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bob and Doris Religion
Scholarship at Milliken University in Decatur, Illinois, or Rev. Dr.
Robert Stewart Endowment for Parish Ministry Students at Louisville
Presbyterian Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. A celebration of life
will be held Saturday, June 4, at Second Presbyterian Church.
Visitation will be 9:00 to 11:00 with the service beginning
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