Mr. Harold L Stewart
January 18, 1915 – November 29, 2019
Harold LaVelle Stewart died peacefully at home on the morning of November 29, 2019 at the age of 104. A celebration of his life will be held December 7 at Lakewood Memorial Park South, 430 McClure Rd. Visitation begins at 10:00, followed by the service at 12:00. To honor his preferences, friends are encouraged to wear something other than black to the service.
He was born January 18, 1915 in rural Pearl River County, MS near Poplarville. The youngest child of Daniel Ebenezer and Beulah Olivia Pope Stewart, he grew up in the midst of a large extended family on land that was settled by his ancestors while Mississippi was still a territory. The stories he heard at family gatherings gave him a lifelong interest in the history of the region and encouraged him to develop his own skills as a storyteller in the best Southern tradition.
He also developed a strong commitment to obtaining a college education. After graduating as salutatorian of the Angie (LA) High School class of 1933, he found both jobs and scholarships scarce. So, he postponed his plans to attend Pearl River Junior College (PRJC) and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). He spent most of his four years in the CCC with the unit assigned to develop the Vicksburg Military Park, an experience that further deepened his appreciation of American history.
In 1937, he finally enrolled at PRJC, where he graduated in 1939. He worked multiple jobs to finance his education, including chopping wood for the campus kitchen. During his second year, he held the job of campus postmaster, which left him with enough time to serve as a cheerleader.
After graduation, he worked on construction jobs, including the 1940 expansion of Camp Shelby, and as a member of a surveying crew. Deciding that the military offered greater opportunity, he joined the Navy in early 1941. His first post after completing boot camp in San Diego was the navy base near Seattle, where he was stationed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Shortly thereafter, he was accepted into training as a Naval Aviation Cadet and headed to Corpus Christi, TX. When he was not commissioned as a pilot, he left the Navy in 1942 and joined the Army. He served at several domestic posts before being sent to Ipswitch, England as a radar mechanic with the Eighth Air Force.
After the war ended, he enrolled in the School of Agriculture at Mississippi State University in 1945. There, he earned both BS and MS degrees in horticulture. He also met the love of his life, Ruth Evelyn Cain of Prairie, MS. They were married on his graduation day, January 12, 1948, a marriage that lasted for 62 years, until her death in 2010.
After he received his MS in 1949, the couple moved to Jackson, where he served as associate county agent for horticulture until his retirement in 1975. During this time, he advised farmers on growing techniques, designed and equipped a soil testing lab, performed hundreds of soil tests, spoke frequently to garden clubs, helped homeowners with lawn and landscape issues and worked with 4-H club members. He was always particularly proud of the teams of young people he coached who participated in 4-H vegetable demonstration and vegetable judging teams. When he retired, these Hinds County teams were the only ones to have won both titles in the same year. Three of the teams he coached went to the National Junior Vegetable Growers Association national competition, including one that won second place in the nation. He received the Extension Service Distinguished Service Award in 1964.
He served as president of the Men's Garden Club of Jackson and was a lifetime member of both the Men’s Garden Club of Jackson and the Men’s Garden Club of America. He received the Jackson Club’s distinguished service award in 1963 and in 2001 he was honored for 50 years of membership and service. He helped organize both Keep Jackson Beautiful, which he served as vice-president, and Keep Mississippi Beautiful. He also served on the board of directors of the Jackson Camellia Society and was a member of the Mississippi Pecan Growers Association, Iris Society, Farm Bureau, County Agents Association and Southwest Civitan Club.
After retiring, he became active in both the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) and AARP. He served on the AARP state legislative committee for several years, including two terms as chairman, where he worked to encourage legislation designed to protect seniors. AARP honored him for meritorious service in 1987. NARFE honored him for distinguished service in 1996. During this period, he and Ruth also enjoyed touring the US and portions of Canada, often in the company of family or friends.
He loved God, his family, his friends, his community and his country and served them faithfully throughout his life. He and Ruth joined Alta Woods Baptist Church (AWBC) in 1960 and remained active members as long as their health permitted. Ruth was an invalid for the last nine years of her life and he devoted himself to making sure that she had the care she needed. This enabled her to live at home until her death at the age of 99.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Frankie Stewart Magness Hart, his brothers, Maurice Arthur Stewart and Jefferson Davis Stewart, and his niece, Sybil Magness Gotcher. He is survived by his daughter, Evelyn Louise Stewart of Jackson, MS (Ray McFerren), his sisters-in-law, Karolyn Cain of Columbus, MS and Fannie Lee Stewart of Gulfport, MS and several nieces and nephews.
His mind remained sharp even as his health declined. A dedicated group of friends and caregivers enabled him to live at home, including Becky Boleware, Velma Pippen, Steve Coleman, Deborah Taylor and Cassandra Patterson. Encouragement and support from friends at AWBC meant so much, especially senior adult pastor Sid Johnson, Ann Marie Loveless, JoAnne Lawrence, Bailey Powell, Art Compere and Henry Williams. He also had the help of an exceptional team of medical professionals, including Dr. Eugene Wood, Dr. Todd Lawson, Dr. Joyce Wade-Hamme, Dr. Jason Blalock, Amanda Purser, N.P., and the dedicated staff of MS Homecare, especially Rebecca Bailey, N.P. and John McGlothen.
In lieu of flowers, please direct remembrances to the senior adult ministry at Alta Woods Baptist Church, 168 Colonial Dr, Jackson, MS 39204 or to the Harold LaVelle and Ruth Cain Stewart Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Mississippi University for Women Foundation, 1100 College St, MUW 1618, Columbus, MS 39701.
- In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sister, Frankie Stewart Magness Hart, his brothers, Maurice Arthur Stewart and Jefferson Davis Stewart, and his niece, Sybil Magness Gotcher. He is survived by his daughter, Evelyn Louise Stewart of Jackson, MS (Ray McFerren), his sisters-in-law, Karolyn Cain of Columbus, MS and Fannie Lee Stewart of Gulfport, MS and several nieces and nephews.
- Visitation Saturday, December 7, 2019
- Funeral Service Saturday, December 7, 2019
- Celebration of Life
Mr. Harold L Stewart
December 5, 2019
I will always remember Lavelle as being sharp as a tack and his sense of humor. I will always remember him as a special friend.
And Evelyn, you were so devoted to your Dad. So much love to share.....May God bless and comfort you.