Update 5/24/2012 6:00 P.M.
Big crowds were expected at the Morgantown Event Center Thursday, to pay tribute to former West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart, who died Monday.
A private funeral is scheduled for Friday, also in Morgantown.
After that service, Stewart is to be transported for burial in his home town of New Martinsville.
Beforehand, however, the hearse carrying his body is to stop at Magnolia High School-where Stewart played football-for a brief public remembrance.
The school's principal tells us it's an opportunity for that community to pay its own last respects.
The funeral procession is expected to arrive at the high school football field around 4 P.M., or roughly two hours after the conclusion of the morgantown funeral service.
Update: 05/22/2012 6:15 P.M.
At Magnolia High School, where Bill Stewart played football, he was remembered for something more than his playing and coaching career: for being, according to the school's marquee sign, "A True Blue Eagle".
At Quinet's Restaurant, a downtown local landmark where we spoke to patrons four years ago at the hour Stewart became West Virginia University's head football coach, he was remembered in much the same way he was then.
"He knew everybody, everybody knew him," said resident and restaurant regular Bill Talkington, "and he always remembered everybody. He'd come up and shake your hand, and he would call you by your first name."
In fact, it was difficult for those we spoke to talk of Stewart in past tense, so soon after his death. That includes New Martinsville's mayor, Lucille Blum, who said Stewart continued to come to the city to see his friends. And they often came to see Stewart when he was coaching.
"He has so many good friends here that would go to Morgantown to see him," Mayor Blum said. "He would let them know what was going on...'Why don't you come over to see this ball game'...and they would go."
While there are still conflicting opinions about Stewart's controversial departure from the school a year ago, residents here seem united in their feelings about it.
"He could have come back to New Martinsville at that time," said the mayor, "and there would not have been a person on the street who wouldn't have tried to help with the situation."
Talkington was more blunt about it: " I think that could have been handled a lot differently. And I've been really mad at WVU over how they handled that."
But on this Tuesday, people remembered Bill Stewart much the way they did on that January day in 2008: as the local guy who made good.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The funeral of former West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart is set for Friday.
A public viewing will be held 2-9 p.m. Thursday at the Morgantown Event Center.
A private funeral Mass for family, close friends, coaches and former players will be held 10 a.m. Friday at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church.
The funeral procession will leave at 2 p.m. for Stewart's hometown of New Martinsville, where the Magnolia High School football field will host an honorary salute.
He'll be buried at the North View Cemetery.
Stewart died Monday of an apparent heart attack at age 59.
The family requests donations be made to the Bill Stewart Memorial Community Fund through the Greater Morgantown Community Trust, P.O. Box 409, Morgantown, WV 26507.
McCulla Funeral Home: http://www.mcculla.com/
MORGANTOWN, W.V. (AP) - Former West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart has died of what the athletic department says was an apparent heart attack.
It happened Monday afternoon, but the university did not immediately release any further details.
Stewart resigned last summer and was replaced by Dana Holgorsen the same night.
He'd gone 28-12 in three seasons after taking over for Rich Rodriguez but failed to earn a Bowl Championship Series berth.
Stewart had signed a six-year contract in September 2008. That agreement was amended in 2010 when Athletic Director Oliver Luck decided to replace him.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) issued the following statement about the passing of Bill Stewart.
"West Virginia truly lost one of its best citizens today, but my friend Bill Stewart leaves behind a lifetime of memories and love for our state,” Senator Joe Manchin said. “It has been my privilege to be able to call Bill my friend ever since his days playing ball at Fairmont State. From the moment I met him, I knew that you never had to worry about Bill’s enthusiasm; he had enough for all of us.
Bill was a proud West Virginian in every sense of the word, and he was the best cheerleader this state ever had. For me and Gayle, our hearts go out to Bill’s wife, Karen, and his son, Blaine. I hope that they know just how much Bill meant to the people of this state and how much we all will miss him."
Charleston, W.V. -Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released the following statement:
"Coach Stewart brought a new found pride to the Mountaineer faithful as he led the football team in both competition and character," Gov. Tomblin said. "Joanne and I are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Coach Stewart and offer our sympathies to his family. Together, we ask that Mountaineers everywhere keep the Stewart family in your thoughts and prayers during this sad time."
Washington, D.C.—Senator Jay Rockefeller released the following statement:
"I was saddened to learn about the death of Bill Stewart this afternoon. Bill loved West Virginia, and he loved the student-athletes he worked with. My heart aches for his wife, Karen, and their son, Blaine, and we should all keep the Stewart family in our thoughts and prayers."
Washington, D.C.—Rep. David McKinley (R-W.V.) released the following statement:
"This is a sad day for our entire state. Bill was an outstanding person who touched thousands of lives. I am personally saddened because Bill and I knew each other for years. Bill represented the University in the best possible way. He was a solid individual and a man of true character. My wife and I were so proud when this New Martinsville native was named head coach of the Mountaineers. Please join me in praying for his wife, Karen; son, Blaine and their entire family."
WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., released the following statement:
"My family and I are deeply saddened to hear that Bill Stewart died unexpectedly today. Always kind and humorous, Bill was a loving husband, father and coach. As a respected West Virginia football coach, Bill touched the lives of hundreds of student athletes. He could not have been nicer to me and my family whenever we cheered on his team at Mountaineer games. He will be truly missed, and our hearts and prayers go to his family. He will forever be remembered in Mountaineer nation."
Beckley, W.V. – U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) released the following statement:
"From New Martinsville to the world stage of the Fiesta Bowl, Bill Stewart was a winner. As importantly, he was equally if not more proud of being a native of the Mountain State. Leave no doubt. No doubt. Coach Stewart was a mentor, a man of character. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."