Steven Harold Stewart
07/19/1943 - 09/07/2019
On the evening of September 7, 2019 the world lost a special light, one of a kind. Steven Harold Stewart, beloved husband, father, and friend passed away peacefully and returned home with his family gathered around him. The gospel of Jesus Christ and his family were his two greatest joys. Steve had a deep affection for his wife, Anne, his family, and many loyal friends, as well as his beloved missionaries from the Canada Vancouver Mission (President 2002-05) and the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center (Director 2014). He was a consistent example of Christ-like love and kindness up to the very end. Steve will be remembered for his kind, gentle, and affirming nature. He lived by the motto, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” People felt loved, listened to, and understood in his presence.
Steve was born to Harold Lavon and Bette Quinn Stewart on July 19, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. At an early age he was touched by stories from the Bible read to him by his mother. This was the beginning of his deep testimony of the Savior and deep appreciation for Jesus Christ throughout his life. He often attributed every blessing in his life to his Father in Heaven, and he acknowledged those tender mercies every day. The power of heaven was a reality in his life.
He graduated from Granite High School in 1961, then enlisted in the Army where he served active duty for 6 months and reserve duty until 1969. He was an honorably discharged Veteran. Steve joined Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at the University of Utah in 1962 and served diligently in the Central Atlantic States Mission (Virginia and North Carolina) from 1964-66.
After his mission, Steve returned to the University of Utah. While attending the U of U, he met Anne Griffiths and married her in the Salt Lake Temple on June 9, 1967. The ceremony was performed by then, Apostle, Thomas S. Monson. This became the most important relationship in his life. He always proclaimed his love for his wife, and she never doubted his love. She loved and supported him every step of the way, including through many adventures outside of her comfort zone. She often said that he dragged her from the bottoms of the oceans to the tops of the mountains. Although she wasn’t an adventurer at heart, she followed him “to the great unknown” with trust and a deep love for him. She learned to enjoy every moment of the “whole new world” that was opened up to her during their 52 years of marriage. In return, Steve developed a love for many of the musicals, theatrical performances, and arts she enjoyed so much. Steve’s cancer diagnosis came just one day before their 50th anniversary date, June 9, 2017.
Steve received his BS degree in History from the University of Utah in 1969 and his JD from the University of Utah College of Law in 1971. He became a member of the Utah State Bar and began working with the law firm of Cannon, Greene & Nebeker. He later practiced law with Pearce, Thorn, Young & Stewart, Nielsen & Senior, Larsen & Stewart, Stewart, Young, & Paxton, and finally Smiith Hartvigsen in 2005.
Skiing and Alta, Utah were a wonderful part of his life. He and Anne purchased a cabin in the Albion Basin in 1972, and Steve later served for 22 years as the town judge of Alta, “the highest court in the land.” The Alta cabin provided priceless family memories and many hours of joy in his mountain paradise. He had the genuine pleasure of teaching his own children, as well as many of his grandchildren, how to ski at an early age. This created a special bond between them. Steve was an excellent skier and appreciated the beauty of the Albion Basin, Cecret Lake, and the wild flower-filled areas near the family cabin. Because of his passion for skiing, in 1990 he was able to take a helicopter ski trip to British Columbia where he would later become a mission president.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Steve served in many church callings: In 1982 he was called as a high counselor in the University First Stake. Since he had not received his Patriarchal Blessing earlier in his life, he received this blessing at age 40. He was passionate about his beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints, but he loved interacting with and understanding “friends of other faiths.” He genuinely enjoyed his eight years on the Salt Lake Public Affairs Council for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2005-13) and the Healing the Great Divide Forum.
In the fall of 1982, he was called as a high counselor in the University First Stake, and in 1983 he was called as bishop of the University 21st Ward by President Mac Oswald. In 1992 he served as a counselor to Bishop Mike Preece in the Monument Park 12th Ward (now the Crestview Ward), and in 2001 Steve was called as second counselor in the University Fifth Stake Presidency by his friend, William H. (Rick) Nelson. Shortly after that, in 2001, he and Anne were interviewed by Elder Neal A Maxwell and later, President James E. Faust. He and Anne were subsequently called to preside over the Canada Vancouver Mission in British Columbia, Canada.
Before leaving on their mission, they were volunteers for the Salt Lake City 2002 winter Olympics. They loved serving in Canada for three years and had the privilege of impacting the lives of over 300 missionaries. President Stewart challenged his missionaries to remain faithful and always described himself as a “Disciple for Life”, the theme of the Canada Vancouver Mission. When the mission ended in 2005, a reunion was planned for all missionaries in the year 2022. He assured the missionaries that he would be there “whether on this side of the veil or the other.”
In 2013 Steve was interviewed by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and called to direct the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center in Palmyra, New York. This included the Joseph Smith Farm, the Book of Mormon Publication Site, and the Peter Witmer Farm. Steve relished walking the paths taken by Joseph Smith and was amazed by how perfectly everything fit together as he followed the same paths taken by the early leaders of the church in the 1820s. After their return from Palmyra, New York in 2015, he and Anne were called to serve as part-time missionaries on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and enjoyed this calling together for over a year.
Steve was an outdoor person through and through. He was an avid scuba diver, backpacker, skier, fly fisherman, and lover of anything involving nature or the ocean. As a boy scout he was introduced to backpacking, and he loved hiking into the High Uintas almost every year for the remainder of his life. In 1996 he succeeded in gathering the entire family for a Burnt Fork backpacking trip and even convinced Anne to make the seven-mile hike to his favorite “secret” campsite. Some of the most precious times with his children and “brother,” Bill, took place in Burnt Fork with its glorious fishing streams, and meadows. His last trip was made with Bill in August of 2019 during the last month of his life.
Consistency and integrity were two of Steve’s trademark qualities. He faithfully read at least three pages in the Book of Mormon every day from around 2002 to 2019 so, he finished the book 2 times each year. Perhaps less well known, he also believed in making his bed every day and performed that service consistently at home. His childhood ambition was to pilot an airplane, and he fulfilled that dream to some degree in 2013 when he took a solo flight in a power parachute at age 70. In 1989 he certified as a PADI Dive Master and enjoyed hundreds and hundreds of dives in locations all over the world. He did very well with his bucket list!
His friendships were extremely important to him. For over forty years Mike Preece and Rick Nelson graced and enriched his life. Later, around 1996, he also became fast friends with Dan and Kim Huish.
Although he enjoyed traveling to Europe and other destinations with his wife, Anne, his favorite trips were taken with his dive buddy and golf partner, Dan. The A-Team dive group was formed, and they traveled all over the world on dive adventures between 1996 and 2019. Dan never failed to make Steve laugh; and hearing Steve’s laugh was always a joy, especially in his final days.
Steve was appointed as director of the Utah Division of Real Estate in 1993 and as Executive Director of the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission from 1995-2002. He received the Pro Bono Award from Utah State Bar in 2011. In 2010 Steve became vice president and general counsel for Huish Outdoors. He gladly tested scuba equipment and traveled to parts of Asia and Viet Nam to meet with potential business partners.
And, no one ever had to guess the things Steve was passionate about! He was clear about the people and things he loved, and he expressed them generously and openly. There was no place for contention in his life, so he became an excellent listener and often counseled lovingly and fairly with family, friends and former missionaries.
For many years, he and Anne enjoyed being members of a couples book group and a gospel study group, both comprised of the finest people anyone could know. Over the years, he also loved the association he had with his Granite High School Class of ‘61’ friends.
Steve had a list of favorite quotes, which were collected when he was a mission president, and he continued to use them after his return. His missionaries, friends, and family can often be heard quoting some of his favorites, such as, “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it; (To facilitate this principle, Steve became the ultimate bag man.*); Control what you can control; That’s a PGO (penetrating glimpse into the obvious); Act for yourself and do not be acted upon; It’s OK to have an unexpressed thought; The only real failures are failures to try; The essence of discipleship is small and simple things done consistently over time; Contention is not part of the Savior’s doctrine; There are three important things in life: the first is to be kind, the second it to be kind, and the third is to be kind (Henry James); and Joy is a choice!”
* Bags, many bags, were very important to Steve’s organizational systems!
Steve had a great admiration for Sir Ernest Shakelton, who was a model of leadership to him. Steve completely related to a favorite description of the explorer, and he felt the description applied to himself, as well: “He was a soul whipped on by the wildfire.” He often quoted Shakelton, who said, “That was in the past,” and then he looked to the future.
Steve has one sister, Lana Stewart Youngberg. He loved her dearly and felt she was a beautiful and kind angel in his life. Bill Griffiths is Anne’s brother, but Steve considered Bill to be his brother in every true sense of the word, and Bill felt the same way about Steve. Neither had a biological brother, so they adopted each other. They had many outdoor experiences together, including floating the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead together in 2006. This was one of the great adventure highlights of his life, especially because he was able to experience it with Bill. Steve’s final trip to Burnt Fork was with Bill in August, 2019, less than one month before Steve’s passing.
As a family we will always remember the family beach trips to Coronado and Newport Beach. Steve was ahead of his time in the 80s when he hooked up an entire video and sound system so the kids could watch video tapes in the back of our van on their way to California. Grandma Griffiths was also part of that experience for many years.
Although we eventually moved a total of 20 times in our married life, we spent the longest time at Thackeray Place in Salt Lake City. This is where our five children were raised for 22 years. Our final home, built in 2017 on Sheridan Rd, is the place we planned to live our final years. Steve loved everything about our home and was so grateful he was able to spend his final days and moments in this place he enjoyed so much with his beloved family.
Steve always had a great desire to help those around him. We jokingly called him “Mr. Fixit,” but when you needed help he was always there. His favorite scripture from the Book of Mormon is found in Mosiah 18.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them . . . and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life
He is survived by his wife, Anne, and their five children: Jane (Tad) Cunningham, John, Mary Anne, Susan (Ben) Rich, Jill (Behrad) Tabatabaei; 13 grandchildren; his sister, Lana (Rob) Youngberg and his “brother by choice,” Bill (Mary) Griffiths.
He also leaves behind his beloved grandchildren: Aidan, Cole, and Thea Cunningham; Olivia, Isaac, Grace Anderson, and Meryl Jeanne; John and Ellen Rich; and Izabella, Pearl, Ezra, and Lorenzo Tabatabaei.
One of Steve’s favorite songs embodies his advice to his posterity.
“Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you.
When you get where you’re going,
Don’t forget, turn back around,
And help the next one in line.
Always stay humble and kind.”
“Humble and Kind” (Tim McGraw, by Lori McKenna)
You may honor Steve as you, “Try to show kindness in all that you do.”
Steve would wish to thank all those who provided exceptional and loving care during his illness including Dr. Scott Samuelson and his staff at Utah Cancer Specialists, Dr. John Hayes, and Hospice. Although he lost his 27 month battle with cancer, he had over two good years and was able to do many of the things he enjoyed so much.
Services will be at 11 am on Saturday, September 14, Princeton Ward, 1005 South 2000 East in Salt Lake City. Friends may call Friday 6-8 pm at the church, and Saturday 9-10:30 am at the church.
See more online at www.LarkinMortuary.com