James Russell Stewart passed away at his home in Mt. Vernon on Oct. 14, 2013. He was 97 years old.
He was born May 31, 1916, in Bremen, Ohio, to Molly (Graham) and Edward Stewart. He was the sixth of nine children. All preceded him in death.
He married Belle (Embry) Stewart in Henderson, Ky. on Aug. 5, 1950, and she survives along with three children, James Russell Stewart, Jr. of Walnut Creek, Calif., Carol Lindsey Stewart and Robert Graham Stewart and wife Dee Ann, of Mt. Vernon.
He is also survived by three grandchildren, Philip Stewart Blackwood and wife Dianna of Knoxville, Tenn., Cameron James Stewart and Paisley Jane Stewart of Champaign; and several nieces and nephews.
Mr. Stewart attended Ohio Wesleyan University and graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.S. in geology. He was a proud member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Russell was always an industrious person from a young age. He delivered newspapers in Bremen and worked several summers at Atha Supply Store in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. He worked as a roughneck on a drilling rig on the Louisiana Gulf Coast before serving his country during World War II.
He enlisted in 1942, and served four years in the U.S. Navy as a first lieutenant. He was stationed on the destroyer, USS Dallas, in the European Theater which participated in the invasion of Sicily and Italy at Salerno Bay. Russ was one of six Stewart brothers that served their country during WWII.
After the war, he returned to his home in Mt, Pleasant where he joined Stewart Oil Company. He came to Illinois in 1948, to oversee their new drilling program and manage their completion and production operations. One of his joys in life was working with five of his brothers and a son in the business. They made a harmonious team which surely led to some of their success.
He formed Stewart Producers, Inc. in 1951, as a production operations company which diversified into oil well servicing in 1966. Always vitally interested in best business practices and new technology, he was a 60 year member of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association, held several offices and was awarded their highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2001. He was a member of the Independent Producers Association of America and served as a representative for the Illinois Basin in the 1960s.
J. Russell was an active member of the first United Methodist Church for over 50 years and rarely missed a Sunday. He served on the Southern Illinois Finance Committee for three terms, was a past president of the Methodist Men and served on the Executive Board and Board of Trustees.
Russell enjoyed golfing, swimming, Cardinal baseball and college football. He liked playing cards and games and, along with Belle, enjoyed these activities with family and friends. He was an avid reader, particularly history and sports.
He believed in community service and served as a director on several boards: District 80 Board of Education for nine years (two as president), the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Vernon Housing Authority, Boys Scouts of America and Green Hills Country Club. He was a lifetime member of the Elks and Mitchell Museum and was an active member of the Mt. Vernon rotary club and Paul Harris Society.
Russ lived a very full life and was blessed in many ways. However, his greatest joy in life was his family. He and Belle enjoyed 63 years of wonderful marriage. They shared a common love for family, home and church. They enjoyed entertaining in their home and loved to travel the United States and abroad.
Russell loved life and had the wonderful ability to make all people feel appreciated. He will be truly missed by family and friends.
Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, at the First United Methodist Church in Mt. Vernon with the Rev. Murriel Nance and Dr. Billy Hahs officiating.
Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to service time at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hughey Funeral Home in Mt. Vernon.
For those who wish, memorials may be given to the First United Methodist Church or Angels on Assignment and will be accepted at the funeral home or mailed to Hughey Funeral Home, P.O. Box 721, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Hughey Funeral Home where you may call 242-3348 or visit www.hugheyfuneralhome1969.com for further information and to send condolences.