Deceased March 2, 2007
Dave Stewart died of a heart attack on March 2 in his native South Carolina, where he had lived and worked as an Episcopalian minister for more than 30 years.
I was Dave’s best friend, and he mine, for all four years at Amherst. Looking back, I can’t recall an adventure—or misadventure—which I did not share with him. We were roommates, brothers at Chi Phi and fellow Masquers. A quick count tells me we appeared together in 14 stage productions at both Amherst and Mt. Holyoke. We even worked together at C&C Package Store our senior year. At the end of our junior year, I traveled to South Carolina to stand up with Dave when he married his first wife, Sharon. Every laugh and every tear I had at Amherst, I shared with him.
After Amherst, Dave went to New York where he pursued acting for a brief while before turning to the call which he had felt all his life, the church. After finishing seminary in New York, he returned to South Carolina, where he stayed until his death. He is survived by his wife, Jemme; his children, Matt and Christi, and his granddaughter, Eva.
Dave was a rector at several churches, chaplain at the University of South Carolina and director of a number of mental health facilities. In a eulogy, a fellow rector recalled that Dave’s warm humor was constantly in evidence, that “David was a splendid preacher even when his son Matt would crawl into the pulpit to pull David’s leg hair” and that “someone said that he had too much fun to be a priest.”
Unfortunately, the closeness we enjoyed at Amherst was not to endure. Dave was by his own admission a terrible correspondent and, as time went on, we lost touch. There were a few brief phone calls, a couple of letters, but not enough to sustain what we had once had. The last contact I had with him was ironically an indirect one. A dozen years ago, his son Matt stopped by my house on passing through Chicago. As he came up my sidewalk, he smiled, and in a flash, I saw his father before me. He was a chip off the old block as a person, too; we talked for hours, and I urged him to help rekindle the connection I had once had with his father but that never happened.
So when I got the news that Dave was gone, I realized that all my recollections were from those very compact years we had spent together at Amherst. As a result, he, like John F. Kennedy, will remain frozen in time for me, forever youthful. Others of you I have seen with gray hair—or no hair at all—and with spouses, kids and college tuition bills, but not Dave. No, he will always be the same engaging chum who danced and sang and laughed both on stage and off, who was warm, sharing, sharp-witted but never cynical, fun but always serious. He will be wrapped up in the mystery of our years at the Fairest College, and perhaps that is his best and most-lasting gift to me, and I hope to you as well—a remembrance of the time when we, as strangers, came to live together.
Dave was religious and I am not, but we did share the religion of the theater and Shakespeare, so I’ll turn that way for my final thoughts. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Bruce H. Boyer ’68