On June 19, 1929, in East Chicago, Ind., a white dove — a sign from above — announced the arrival of John W. “Jack” Stewart, the first of two sons born to Scottish parents, John and Isabella (Gray) Stewart. On the wings of a dove he arrived at his Heavenly home, following his earthly death, at 10:29 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at the age of 84.
Jack Stewart and Barbara Pickering were united in marriage on Oct. 10, 1954, and lived their dreams in an incredible journey of love together for 59 years.
Upon the untimely death of his father, little 6-year-old Jack promised to care for his mother and 4-year-old brother, and immediately started his very young career as an ambitious, hard-working business “man” carrying the National Townsend Weekly, and singing the Townsend song along the way. As with everything in his life, he continued to keep his promises and put his heart and soul into all he undertook, including full-time employment at Postal Telegraph at age 12, soon earning 30 cents per hour at age 13.
Jack left Danville High School when he reached age 17 to join the Navy on July 9, 1946, and proudly served his country on the aircraft carrier USS Bairoko CVE 106, with his four-year tour of duty taking him to Balboa, Panama; Aleutian Islands; two years on the island of Guam; and his final year at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He came back to receive his diploma in 1947 and continued on to earn his degree in 1956 from the College of Business Administration, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis.
In 1951, he accepted employment with Fidelity Loan Company, advancing to executive manager on Aug. 26, 1965, a position he held until 1980 when he joined the Second National Bank (which later became First Midwest Bank) as commercial loan officer. He continued in various positions at the bank, and in March 1988, he was appointed manager of First Midwest Bank’s Voorhees facility, as well as director of Super 60 and Club 50 senior activities. Jack was committed and deeply dedicated to the clients’ banking needs and requests, including seminars, informational meetings, bingo, weekly euchre games, as well as planning and escorting approximately 30 activities/travel tours a year, from one-day to annual cruises and international tours. After the 9/11/01 terrorist attack on the World Trade towers in New York, and a time of tremendous stress, limited air travel and uncertainty, he managed the safe return home of all 57 travelers, following a cruise from New York to Bermuda.