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Life Story / Obituary
A kind, intelligent, and determined man, John Stewart loved life. Always armed with a joke to share, John had a crisp sense of humor and a gift of gab. He had boundless generosity and an inherent drive for learning. John was devoted to his family and served as a pillar to them as well as to his community. He possessed a genuine empathy toward others and never hesitated to extend a helping hand to someone in need. An inspiration to all who knew him, John’s legacy will continue to live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.
The 1950s were exciting years. Unemployment was down, small, family owned businesses were emerging, travel became easier in more comfortable cars on newly paved interstates and thriving young couples were growing their families. For Robert and Barbara Stewart, the excitement of growing their family was cause for much celebration as they welcomed their son John into their hearts and home on November 15, 1950.
Growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, John's early years were rooted in family values. Witnessing the hard work, sacrifices, and rewards that came with his parents owning and operating a small business, John naturally inherited a work ethic that proved a firm foundation for the rest of his life. Along with his siblings, Daniel, Susan, Andrew, Sarah and Katie, John enjoyed a childhood rich in midwest traditions. These included food, sports, music, travel and the company of family and friends. John developed close relationships with his father’s sister, Aunt Gege, Uncle Wayne and cousins Kathy and Carrie that lasted his lifetime.
John and his wife, Patricia, were blessed to welcome five children to their family. Kelly, Carson, Colleen, Cory, and Barbara (deceased) were John's greatest gifts, and he loved being their father. He took great pride in creating a loving, supportive home for his family. When the time came he was delighted and proud to turn over running the family business to his daughter Colleen.
A man of many interests, John was rarely bored. He loved sports and played basketball and baseball as a teen. He was fortunate to play college basketball for Albion College, where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Education. A devoted Purdue and MSU fan, John rarely missed an opportunity to cheer his teams' endeavors. He loved music, especially the tunes of his musician friends, The Macy's. John could always identify the artist, song title, and year of any song he heard. His family and friends often joked that he was the king of trivia. He loved to read and he remembered everything that he read. He enjoyed science fiction and action adventure. He had a passion for good food and possessed a library of cookbooks all of which he had read. Some of his favorite shows included Perry Mason, Columbo, and Sherlock Holmes. It was no surprise that he was a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars and Iron Man to name a few.
John loved conversation and was a natural storyteller. Always a teacher, he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others. He loved giving tours of Amelia Island to all his guests and filling them in on its rich history. John loved to travel with his wife and children, eating at unique restaurants, and researching the history of anywhere he went.
He loved his winters in Amelia Island, FL, and many favorite trips to places like New Orleans; St. Barth's Island; Charleston, SC; St. Simons and St. Augustine, FL; South Haven, Traverse City, and Glen Arbor, MI. No matter where he traveled, he always took the scenic route, knowing it would expand his learning and enrich his experiences. He had a gift for bad jokes and never hesitated to repeat them over and over again to the same people. In-kind, he was always willing to be the center of a good joke too.
For those who knew him best, it was always clear that John was a kid at heart who had a tender heart. The kids nearest and dearest to his heart were his three grandchildren; Henry, Mason and Maddie.
Whether reading a novel or cookbook, soaking in a hot tub, talking about the family business, or spending time with friends at the Elk’s Club, Yacht Club, or VFW, John lived each day to the fullest.
The future seems less certain in the absence of John's steadfast presence. May it provide comfort to know that each of us carries his strong spirit in our hearts and by being true to that spirit, we stoke the flame of John's legacy and ensure that it continues to inspire others as he so inspired us.
John Stewart, age 69, died on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Jacksonville, Florida. He is survived by his wife Patricia, his 4 children: Kelly, Carson, Colleen, and Cory, 3 Grandchildren: Henry, Mason, and Madeline and 5 brothers and sisters: Daniel, Susan, Andrew, Sarah, and Kathryn. He was preceded in death by his mother, Barbara, father, Robert and daughter Barbara. Services will be announced.
Please visit John's personal web page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com, where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Autism Speaks.