Robert B. Stewart III

Robert (“Bob”) B. Stewart III, 80, passed away peacefully on the evening of March 12, 2024.  Bob’s beloved wife Jean of 60 years and daughters Beth and Heather gathered at his bedside earlier that day for a heartfelt singalong of hymns and favorite songs. 

Bob was born July 24,1943 in Macon, Georgia, then moved north to Michigan, where he was raised by his father Robert B. Stewart Jr. and beloved mother Ruth (Lamb). Growing up in Detroit, Bob made many lifelong friends through his neighborhood, church, and alma mater Cooley High School. At age 16, Bob met his high school sweetheart and the love of his life Jean (Jarnagin) at the Saint James Methodist Church youth group. The two dated and were married shortly after high school. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Wayne State University, Bob began his career in telecommunications with Michigan Bell and later received his MBA from Michigan State University (Go Green!). Bob was a company man and also a dedicated family man who made it a point to be home every night for dinner with Jean and his two daughters. The family often lingered at the table to laugh and share stories from their day—a tradition revisited 55+ years later whenever possible. 

As a young father, Bob delighted his daughters with double piggyback rides or a drive in his burnt orange metallic Dodge Charger. Whenever one of his girls was sick, he brought home a surprise (usually a coloring book) to help pass the time. Bob enjoyed attending the girls’ school concerts, plays, and sports events. He proudly watched his youngest daughter Heather compete in gymnastics and run hurdles at varsity track meets. Bob taught his eldest daughter Beth how to play a decent game of tennis (and run her around the court chasing his backspin shots). Bob even agreed to morning jogs with both of his girls when they were in high school–with Beth at 6 AM during a Michigan winter to help her train for the track team and later with Heather, making smoothies afterward, long before it was a fad. Bob’s discipline style often manifested in extreme declarations such as “You’re never allowed to climb a tree again!” (to Heather) or a side-eyed glance (at Beth) that would trigger immediate tears before he had a chance to say anything.

Bob’s career required many transfers throughout Michigan, with a final move to AT&T in New Jersey, where the family moved to Long Valley and into their 9th home. Sixteen years later, embracing early retirement at 55, Bob and Jean left NJ and dabbled in senior-living shenanigans in Hemlock Farms, Pennsylvania; Solivita, Florida; and finally Sun City, South Carolina, where they lived for 17 years. During that time, Bob cut down on golf and began a second career managing a storage facility, where he was integral in growing a very successful business. Bob retired (again!) on his 80th birthday, and he and Jean moved north to begin their next adventure in Massachusetts, where they would be closer to family. 

Bob was always a “glass-half-full” guy with an easy going kindness and a wit that often revealed itself in hand-written notes, voicemails, and emails. One of his most often used words was “outstanding,” which he exclaimed with genuine enthusiasm. Bob was a romantic who wrote beautiful letters and cards to Jean and was quick to tell her how pretty she looked. As couples do, Bob and Jean had their routines. In earlier years, they took Sunday drives, and every night they dedicated time to unwind together after work. Retirement routines included Thursday popcorn nights and Dunkin runs on Sunday mornings. Nightly routines included falling asleep in sync in their lounge chairs in front of the TV, Bob often jolting awake during the credits and insisting that he had been awake for the entire show (he wasn’t). After more than 60 years together, they still held hands and kissed hello and goodbye every day. 

Bob was tech savvy and regularly lent a helping hand to friends and colleagues with computer-related challenges. Bob was a generous tipper, a steadfast supporter of charitable causes, and an advocate for those in need. Bob often gave quietly and altruistically, and he touched countless lives through both financial contributions and simple acts of kindness.

Bob loved music and loved to sing. Gifted with a beautiful tenor voice, Bob participated in many choirs, sang solos, and enjoyed singing with Jean in the church choir. He even performed a few heartfelt duets with his daughters at weddings. He would often randomly burst into song in his home, bringing a smile and giggle from the family. On his last day, Bob was blessed with the gift of music. At his bedside, a singer-guitarist led a singalong that included songs by the Beatles, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel. She sang “You’ve Got a Friend,”  “How Great Thou Art, ” and concluded with a touching performance of “I Will Always Love You,” a piece chosen by Jean.

Bob leaves behind his dear and beloved wife Jean (Jarnagin), eldest daughter Beth Stewart (son-in-law Rich Gordon), and youngest daughter Heather Stewart. As self-proclaimed “Boppa,” Bob had immense pride and love for his grandchildren Holly and Micah and “bonus grandchildren” Alison and Liam.

Bob was predeceased by his parents, his younger brother James (Jimmy) Stewart, and his aunt Charlene (Jones), who was a loving and guiding presence throughout Bob’s life. 

Bob’s final months came as an unexpected twist, which was gravely felt by his family and those close to him. Every day was a challenge, but he managed a smile or a kind word for everyone he encountered and continued to brighten the lives of those around him.

Bob’s spirit will live on in the hearts and memories of those who knew and loved him. The family will honor his memory with a celebration of life service to be held at a later date and invite others to share any memories or stories about Bob. For those who wish to pay tribute to honor his legacy of generosity, Bob would have encouraged you to donate to a charity close to your heart. He has in the past donated to local food banks, families in need of services and housing, and Parkinson’s disease research.


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2 Condolences

  1. Pam & Joe Panella on April 2, 2024 at 1:58 pm

    Just so sorry to learn about Bob. Joe and I send our love and prayers to you Jean, Beth and Heather. We loved our time in Long Valley that we spent with your family and remember Bob a really great husband and Dad.

  2. Ruth Rodeman on April 2, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    There are no words to express the pain and changes that come when someone we love passes. The fact that your family was so close to the very end assures the legacy your Dad started has no end. Give yourself time to grieve- grace when overwhelmed and memories to bring the joy that was Dad when needed.

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