October 18, 1924 - May 29, 2017
Wesley James “Wes” Stewart, 92, died May 29, 2017 of complications following pneumonia.
As a boy, Wesley’s grandfather told him to ‘follow the light,’ and few have done it better. His sunny disposition, strength of character and compassion radiated to others.
He was born on October 18, 1924 in Pontiac, Michigan, the son of Neva Grace (Price) and Frank Stewart. As a teen, he helped his father build houses in the area but wanted to become a lawyer. His plans changed after the attack on Pearl Harbor: He enrolled in college in Port Arthur, Texas, studying engineering and communications to serve his country as a radio officer aboard convoys crossing the Atlantic and Pacific. During lulls in long voyages, he entertained his fellow seamen by reporting on football games back home, prompting many men to place bets on the outcomes. By the end of the war, the proceeds earned from those friendly wagers enabled him to buy a small crane to help his father, who had developed Parkinson’s disease, in the construction business.
In 1947, he married Peggy Martin, whom he had met as a teen at a church camp. They had two children, Marty and Mary.
When a physician suggested Marty’s health required a warmer climate, the couple jumped at the chance to return to Texas, a state Wesley had learned to love during college. There, they started a thriving young construction business, but soon moved back to Michigan to care for aging parents and launch Frank Stewart & Son Construction. The firm built schools, churches and commercial projects throughout the Detroit area. His biggest compliment was when clients asked him to build subsequent projects because they were impressed with his integrity, practicality and winning personality.
For 25 years, the couple lived in a home Wesley built on Silver Lake in Waterford Township, Michigan. After son Marty died, they sponsored a young refugee who had escaped from Communist China. Treated as a family member, the teen earned his high-school and college degrees and now has a family of his own.
In retirement, the couple spent their summers in Gladwin, Michigan, and their winters in a home Wesley designed and built in Stuart, Florida. But he claimed the best move of his life was back to Texas, where he was known as “Hi-Guy” by the grandchildren he taught to water ski, build forts, and—more importantly—use their education to the fullest. A member of First Presbyterian Church Fort Worth, Wesley spent his final years as a church greeter and regular participant in the homeless ministry. Even after a stroke limited him to a wheelchair, he continued to spread his faith, fatherly advice and remarkable good humor to caregivers at Trinity Terrace and his family.
Special gratitude to caregiver Donald Deshauteurs.
Survivors: His wife, Peggy of Fort Worth; their devoted 70-year marriage was an inspiration to everyone they knew; daughter, Mary Stewart and her husband Ed Bewley of Fort Worth; grandson Stewart Bewley and his wife Emily of Brooklyn, New York; granddaughter Elizabeth Bewley and her husband Brian Goldsmith of Washington, D.C.