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Thomas Byrd Stewart

Obituary

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2007

Longtime Juneau resident Thomas Byrd Stewart died Dec. 12, 2007, in Juneau. He was 88.

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Born Jan. 1, 1919, in Seattle, he arrived by steamship in Juneau, where he resided with few interruptions until his death.

Family members said that while he never thought of himself as an overachiever, he loved to tell the story of the day he climbed Mount Roberts, skied down, climbed Mount Juneau, skied down and then went to the dance hall and twirled the girls.

Following his service in World War II, where he earned bronze and silver stars, he spent his life serving Alaska and its people. He helped to plan and organize the state constitutional convention, served in the territorial and first state legislatures, administered the state court system, served for 15 years as a superior court judge and donated countless hours to innumerable boards and commissions.

In 1955, while serving as secretary of the constitutional convention, he experienced a "heart" problem that was cured by his marriage to his sweetheart, Jane. They were known for hosting teas with special guests from around the world - from John F. Kennedy to Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Consummate performers, they ensured everyone was entertained. Jane would play the piano while Tom sang. He never tired of reciting "The Ballad of Yukon Jake" from memory. He shared his love of reading with his children, to whom he read every night.

He also passed on his passion for the outdoors to his children, taking them hiking, camping and fishing. His favorite wilderness was the Taku River drainage, which he thoroughly explored.

As a judge, he was considered by many to be among the most fair and patient on the bench. This quality was particularly appreciated by his children and wife. They raised seven children. He said it was the hardest, yet most rewarding, of all his achievements.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jane Stewart; and son, Thomas Stewart.

He is survived by his siblings, John and Jeannette Stewart; children, Rebecca Stewart and her daughter, Audra, Donna Stewart, Elizabeth Hendricks and her daughter, Lindsay, and son, Jared, Stephen Stewart and his wife, Ann, Mary Etheridge and her partner, Larry Russo and his son, Clayton, and daughter, Jessica Dillon, and her husband, Jody, and Caleb Stewart and his friend, Michelle Sydeman, and their daughter, Tiernan; and many nieces and nephews.

Community members are invited to a celebration of his life and contributions to Alaska at 1 p.m. April 5 at Centennial Hall.

The family is creating a Memory Book to share at the celebration and would be honored if you would send your memory, tribute or special photos of Tom to donnastewart1000@hotmail.com or Donna Stewart, P.O. Box 776, Mill Valley, CA 94942.



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