Loss of Bill Stewart leaves giant hole
“Good morning, Rebekah:
I hope this email finds you and your husband well and anticipating a New Year with many good things in store.
Attached is my column for Wednesday, January 6, 2021, in the Hartselle Enquirer.
This was the last email I received from longtime columnist Dr. Bill Stewart.
I was saddened to hear from Mayor Randy Garrison Jan. 3 that it would be the last time I would hear from Dr. Stewart. A man I’ve only conversed with via email and the telephone for three years had passed away.
His emails were often sent with well wishes and updates from Tuscaloosa. He would greet me, tell of the goings-on in his “neck of the woods” and sign off on a positive note.
I can’t be sure how many emails I’ve received from Dr. Stewart in my time at the newspaper, although I know it to be hundreds of them. When I told him in June that I had recently married, he asked my husband’s name and then hardly ever neglected to mention him while submitting his columns.
I knew from the day I “met” him that his column was not something he did just to pass the time or something he found to be a drudgery. If I didn’t respond to his emails to let him know they were received within an hour, his name and a Tuscaloosa area code would appear on our office phone.
His wife Connie confirmed that passion this past week when I spoke with her on the phone. She mentioned how much her husband enjoyed writing his columns for the paper – something he did for a quarter of a century.
On the front page this week you’ll see an article about the man himself, one that was an honor to write and brought me to tears – only the second article to do that during my career so far. I didn’t know him very well, but through my research to write the article, I feel like I know him a bit better.
He was an accomplished man, smart but humble. He was also well liked and respected by his peers and the countless students who studied at his feet throughout his decades–long career at the University of Alabama.
I’ll miss my weekly emails from Dr. Stewart. I know those in Hartselle who read his columns every Wednesday, and those who knew him personally, will miss him too.