Shawn Michael Stewart PHD

July 6, 1971September 28, 2020
Obituary of Shawn Michael Stewart PHD
William Shawn Michael Stewart, age 49, of Franklin, Tennessee passed away on September 28, 2020 after a superhero level 5-year journey with colon cancer. He was born on July 6, 1971 in Warren County, Tennessee and graduated from Warren County Senior High School in 1989. Gifted in sports and academics, Shawn chose to pursue his passion of Psychology over opportunities in football, completing his BS in Psychology at Lipscomb University while also exploring studies related to religion and education. Dr. Stewart received his first degree from Tennessee University in 1995 and completed his PhD in 1999, after his residency at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. From 1999-2001, Dr. Stewart directed the counseling center at Indiana State University where he provided clinical services, trained clinical staff, consulted with university administrators and worked as an advocate for students of racial, cultural, gender and sexual diversity. Dr. Stewart developed educational programs and trained athletes, working tirelessly to promote awareness for gender equality safe spaces for all genders and to advocate against the norm of sexual inequality, harassment and abuse within the field of athletics. Dr. Stewart loved teaching, mentoring and developing innovative ideas to enhance his community and the lives of people he worked with and loved. Dr. Stewart’s wild unceasing creativity, paired with his deep passion inspired his development of programs and work with children, adolescents, and adults dealing with learning and developmental differences as he was a national expert on the study of working with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He made it his mission to eliminate the stigma of the word disorder and to create a world which understood and accepted difference. Dr. Stewart’s expertise in education, psychology and human development paved the way for his advancement of knowledge in this area, becoming a national trainer in the area and working with local agencies. Dr. Stewart strove to make the world a better place, which offered an easier life for those with developmental challenges or who were disenfranchised. Dr. Stewart brought a creative and vibrant energy to the classroom as well as the boardroom, allowing his inspired visions to develop into interventions and inventions for the community around him. A lover of knowledge, a believer in the magic of science, and a believer of the importance of education, Dr. Stewart was a professor who planted infinite seeds in those who experienced him as he shared his knowledge with students from Vanderbilt University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Argosy University, Ivey Tech Community College, Cumberland University and Tennessee State University where he served in adjunct and associate teaching positions. Dr. Stewart was also a former Autism training specialist, trainer at ERS services, and former member of the medical training faculty at Fitzgerald Health Education Associations. He worked closely with Autism Speaks and Autism Tennessee, where he co-coordinated the Unlock the Solution program, bringing Autism awareness into local sports arenas. His journey led him to develop Nashville Autism Center as a means to address the needs of children, adolescents, and adults dealing with the complexities of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Stewart was an entrepreneur with limitless vision who saw no boundaries in the good that can be created. He was a co-developer of Spectrum by Design, LLC, which focused on innovative and technological creations and development for people living with Autism. Dr. Stewart also participated in research programming at Harvard University on genetics, STEM program development with Hudson Alpha in Huntsville, Alabama, is a former Chairman of GenTech Health, and was on the board of Make Nashville. Dr. Stewart co-owned the Stewart-Beavers Institute with his wife, Lisa Beavers providing psychological and educational services as a clinical and educational psychologist. An advocate and a believer in change, Dr. Stewart served on the board of the Tennessee Equality Project, working to promote change for the LGBTQ community and provided trainings and education for the Tennessee Coalition for Domestic and Sexual Violence. A devout man of faith and a life long student of Buddhist philosophy, political ethicism, learner of Ghandi, and follower of Christ’s love, Dr. Stewart was a member of the Brentwood United Methodist Church. He was avid in the conviction that the best witness for Christ is grace and loving people, strongly committed to the choice of peace over strife. Shawn Stewart’s deepest and most far reaching accomplishments are in the form of his never ceasing, deep and passionate love and focus on his family. Shawn was a devoted son who lived by the belief of honor and strove to love through his honor of his parents Bill and Janie Stewart, of McMinnville, TN. Shawn leaves behind his family that he described as anchor and sibling roots, Sue Beavers, Junior and Kim Stowers, Greg and Pam Havens, of Bland County, Virginia. He also leaves behind his life long friend and co-parent, Charlotte Zavala and her husband, Robert Zavala of Brentwood, TN. Shawn leaves behind a strong brother/sisterhood of Damian Serong, Napolean Meadors, Cat Purdom, Rhonda White, and Kim Kreid of Nashville, TN. Shawn’s limitless creativity is matched only by his infinite love and ability to shepherd and hold space for others, which includes opening his arms and home as a sacred space of emotional connection. His legacy and family extend far beyond traditional definitions as he cherished his role as friend, mentor, advisor of fun, inspirer of pranks, guider of life, father figure, and joy. He leaves a legacy of love with his tribe with the charge of paying it forward to Kristine Ricketts Stanfield, Jennifer Edwards, Micah Spence, Katelynd Wolf Turner, Jerry Roe and Buick Audra of Nashville, TN; Levi Gibson, Jordain Carter, and Craig Parker, of Brentwood, TN; Colton Havens, James Stowers, Kody Sarver and RheaAnn Havens, of Bland County, VA. Shawn held an extraordinary devotion to his wife and daughters, pouring a wellspring of gentle love and presentness into his family. He was a powerhouse of love and grace and never ending playfulness. As a devoted father, Shawn cultivated loving spirits, graceful hearts and an unbreakable belief in his daughters to not live of the world, but to own the world. As a husband, Shawn’s love was limitless, precious and devoted – he was a bringer of flowers, provider of adventure and a giver of his passion and heart in ways that words can never convey. He leaves behind his wife, Lisa Beavers, his daughter Lainey Stewart Gibson and her husband, Levi Gibson and his daughter, Taylor Stewart-Beavers of Brentwood and Hendersonville, TN. A Memorial Service will be held at ten o’clock in the morning on Saturday, October 3, 2020 at Brentwood United Methodist Church. Video memoriam will begin at 9:40 a.m. Shawn’s passionate legacy of love, service, advocacy and support of those who walk the journey of the autism spectrum, whom he called Superheroes, continues. His family is establishing The Shawn Stewart Superhero Tribute Fund for Autism Support to continue to this work so dear to his heart. You can make a contribution to this fund at the address below: The Shawn Stewart Superhero Tribute Fund for Autism Support The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee 3833 Cleghorn Avenue Suite 400 Nashville, TN 37215 Please take a moment to leave a memory in honor of Shawn.

Show your support


  • The Shawn Stewart Superhero Tribute Fund for Autism Support The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Suite 400, Nashville, Tennessee 37215

Past Services

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Memorial Service