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Life Story / Obituary
Andy Stewart was a hard-working provider for the family he loved. He had a sincere passion for giving his personal best to whatever he set his mind on doing, and lived each and every day to the fullest. With so many wonderful memories over the years, Andy felt blessed as a husband, father, and friend to many. Gone too soon, there is no doubt that he will be greatly missed by his loving family and many special friends.
Andy grew up with a set of hard-working parents and his father, Robert, owned and operated Stewart Sutherland Bag Company. With a large family, there was always plenty of activity in the Stewart household! He attended Winchell Elementary as well as Maple Street Middle School. As a young teen, he was driving long haul semi-truck for the company. He also was always on the go between skiing, playing golf, and hanging out with friends.The happiest part of any day was spending time in the kitchen cooking with his mother, Barbara.
Following his graduation from Loy Norrix High School, Andy set off for the College of Wooster in Ohio, where he met his wife, Nancy Milligan. They were joined in marriage in 1981 at the Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton. At the time, he was starting out as a cook at J Ross Browne’s Whaling Station on Westnedge and later helped to open the Chi Chi’s restaurant on West Main. Together with his parents and a partner, Ken Charron, they opened Charron's on West Lake, a lovely fine dining restaurant. Andy loved managing that kitchen.
Eventually, Nancy made a career change and took a job on Wall Street in New York City. It was an exciting time to be in such a big city as they settled into a third floor walk up in Brooklyn. Andy was excited to join a popular company of restaurants and worked his way up to becoming the lead buyer of fresh fish at the Fulton Street Fish Market. Each day he was responsible for selecting the fresh catch of the day for four restaurants and for the holding company, Fish Factory. Fish Factory processed fish for over four-hundred restaurants throughout the city! He and Nancy thoroughly enjoyed their fast-paced lifestyle and hosted a wide variety of guests over the course of their time in Brooklyn. By the time they were blessed with their set of twins, Sam and Teddy, however, they felt it was time to return to Michigan.
Back in Kalamazoo, Andy opened The Fishmonger and processed fish for many area restaurants. Later, he joined his brother, John, at Stewart Sutherland. A people person, Andy was an exceptional salesman for the family company. He was a natural for telling stories and leaving each and every customer with the notion they had known him for years. Andy’s heart, however, remained back in the kitchen and he returned to the restaurant business as a fine-dining chef at The Park Club. Surrounded by the community he loved, Andy thrived here.
Nancy’s brother, Jim Milligan had a desire to expand his oil and vinegar business by adding a cooking school. He tapped Andy to be corporate chef and get the school up and running in the stores. This job, with Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars was a dream job. He thoroughly enjoyed working and cooking with people gathered around. Cooking and feeding others was his passion and his storytelling excelled to keep his clients laughing! Andy was good at keeping each and every class so entertained that many people signed up for another class before the night was over! Andy loved this job, the creativity, the joy of feeding others and the development of the cooking school as it grew. In a nutshell, Andy was happiest if he was cooking for you.
Hard to believe Andy had the time to fit in any other special hobbies, yet he never passed up an opportunity to play golf. Each year he loved planning the annual Stewart Cup with forty guys playing Ryder Cup format. The gathering was a four-day event played on a different course each year. The group played golf, had some fun, and then golfed some more! He had always planned out each and every detail from the nightly team selections to the dinners as well as the closing ceremonies on Sunday. It was a tradition for the winning team to drink beer from The Cup. Over the course of his obsession with golf, Andy was able to get a few holes in one and the greatest part was always sharing the moment with his favorite buddies! In addition to playing golf, recently Andy had returned to his love of skiing. If there was even the slightest chance of snow, Andy was off to hit the ski hills! He was fortunate to take some wonderful ski trips to both Colorado and the East Coast in the last four years. An avid Michigan football fan, he and Nancy attended many games over the years as well as hosted countless football parties at their home! Win or lose, his blood bled maize and blue!
Above all else, Andy’s family meant the world to him. He was thrilled to watch Samantha and Teddy as they became adults and was immensely proud of the two of them. He loved his son-in-law, Cleveland, unconditionally. Andy wanted nothing more than the very best for Sam and Teddy. Described as a laid-back, genuine, and wonderful person to know and to love, Andy will surely be missed by his many special friends and loved ones. He leaves behind a remarkable collection of memories to bring them comfort anytime they are gathered together sharing good food, laughter, as well as the many rich stories he shared with them over the years.