In his professional career, Bill Stewart was not short on accomplishments. With a solid winning record and one of the most memorable Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Finishes in history, it's not hard to see why. However, it was the man Stewart was off the field that was memorialized in New Martinsville on Friday.
"You know, when you were with Bill Stewart you were constantly learning. Learning about life. Learning about yourself. Bill could see the world the way I don't think many other people can," says Magnolia High School Principal, and close friend of the Stewart family, Kathi Schmalz. "He focused on living and being positive. He was a trouble shooter and he was never a victim. No matter what happened to Bill in his life, he could always find something good to turn it into."
Terry A. Glover, a former Magnolia High School teacher of Stewart's, says there were times when their roles were reversed and it was Stewart who was teaching her.
"I learned endurance from Bill. He had the nickname of Dirt," explains Glover. "My husband was a teacher and a coach as well. And my husband would say the amount of time Bill would spend on this field after practice... hours working... and I think the word dirt really significant for him and how he never gave up. He plugged away until he got something and got it right."
As Stewart made his last trip down the Magnolia High School football field- the community said goodbye and thank you.
"I will take that infectious smile [with me]. In row one, fourth seat back, in room 30 of the old Magnolia High School," Glover remembers. "He came in prepared everyday and he worked very, very hard. I will never forget what a wonderful gentleman and young man he was."
"Thanks for what you have done for mankind," adds Schmalz. "For those who have had the opportunity to know you and to be honored to know you. Thanks. Thanks for teaching us all such wonderful, wonderful qualities."