William T. Stewart, Beloved Former Bella Vista HS Teacher and Christian Family Man
William T. Stewart of Fair Oaks passed away suddenly and peacefully at the age of 85 surrounded by his wife, daughters, and grandchildren, on Saturday, December 7, 2019. Bill is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Roswitha, his daughter Terri and son-in law John Hackler and their daughter Becky; and his daughter Erin and son-in-law Josh Righetti and their children Jack and Lily; his sister Judy and her husband John Wells of CO; their son Chris his wife Tammy, and their children Josh, Zack and Riley; his nephew Michael Benson and his wife Marnie of MI; favorite cousin Bobby McGee and his wife Elizabeth of TX; and family in Germany and Texas.
"Bill" was born in Bryan, Texas, the son of S. Brooks Stewart and Bess McGee Stewart, and grew up in Houston, Texas. Bill spent a wonderful youth in Texas, with his reddish hair and a wide grin. He kept a lifelong touch of Texas in his accent and charm. Bill had a great sense of humor, and a friendly, joyful disposition, that made him a friend to many.
He will be most remembered for his enduring Christian faith, his kindness to others, and his fun and eccentric sense of humor. Throughout his life, Bill helped many in need, often acting as a father figure to the students in his high school classes. He gave to many charitable organizations, and enjoyed collecting comic books and antique children’s books. History, pirates and film were favorite topics of Bill’s, and he could tell you any actor in any film from memory. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, he will be missed terribly. He would like to have imparted this message to all, from a favorite hymn of his, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our griefs and sins to bear, and what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”
Bill met his German-born wife Roswitha ("Vita") while he was a lieutenant in the US Army in Fort Eustis, VA, at a service dance. Bill and Vita loved to retell how they met at the dance where she lied about her age and where he convinced her to give him her address. When they were dating, there was a phone booth in the neighborhood where he used to call Vita to keep their romance a secret from her younger sister, Helen. They married in Newport News, VA, when Bill was age 24 and Vita age 17. Their love continued through their 60th wedding anniversary which they celebrated this year in Banff, Canada. True lifelong companions, they loved dancing, old movies, and lived a full life together, traveling the world with friends and family.
Bill and Vita loved to travel, and Bill especially loved visiting castles. His library is filled with souvenirs from their adventures. They made many trips to Germany, and toured China, Turkey, Scotland and many other countries in Europe, and most of the United States, including the national parks and Alaska and Hawaii. A favorite spot was Carmel by the Sea, CA.
A wonderful father, Bill will be remembered fondly by his two daughters for their involvement in father-daughter YMCA clubs, going to the library to share his love of books, hiking trips, and for his kindness and steadfast love as a wonderful father. And Orange Freezes, of course.
Bill was a great storyteller and loved to talk about the time he fell off a horse while playing with his cousin Bobby, and being chased by bears in Yellowstone Park. Bill enjoyed visiting one of his parents’ favorite destinations, Estes Park, Colorado YMCA of the Rockies, for family vacations, and this love has been passed down to his children.
His talent for storytelling was evident as a published author and scholar. He wrote two reference books as well as a book of short stories and a book of poetry. Bill also wrote and directed many plays, and loved acting, landing roles in theatre productions and film.
His list of credentials and accomplishments was long. After high school, Bill was in the ROTC at Texas A&M, and transferred to University of Texas, where received his degree in History with a minor in English. He served in the ARMY, finishing his duty as a Captain in the reserves. Later, Bill received his CA teaching credential at California State University Sacramento, and completed an MA in Speech/Drama. Bill taught Social Studies and American Government, as well as Honors US History at Bella Vista High School for 37 years. He was Mock Trial and Moot Court advisor, leading his team to twice win first place in Sacramento County. He bravely taught drivers’ training for many years. After retiring from Bella Vista, Bill passed on his teaching expertise as Student Teacher Supervisor at various colleges in the Sacramento area.
In addition to family, Bill's legacy extends to his students over the years. Bill was a favorite teacher of many students at Bella Vista high school. He was able to bring history to life for his classes, and it was inevitable if you spent any time with Bill that you would run into one of his former students. He even ran into a student in Heidelberg, Germany.
Bill always looked forward to his regular meet-ups with other retired teacher friends. He kept up with many people with regular calls and emails and always was ready to lend a helping hand or visit someone who needed some cheer and companionship.
Bill was a patron of many charitable organizations, and was also active in the Church of Christ in Roseville as a church elder and song leader for many years, and was an active member in the Church of Christ in Rancho Cordova at the time of his passing.
In lieu of flowers, Bill's wish would have been for donations to be made in his name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Shriners Hospital for Children.
A service and Celebration of Life for Bill will be held at Cordova Church of Christ on January 25 at 11AM. Friends and family are directed to contact the family for more information and remembrances.
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