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JOHN MELBOURNE STEWART

November 2, 1943 March 16, 2015
JOHN MELBOURNE STEWART
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Obituary for JOHN MELBOURNE STEWART

John Melbourne Stewart was born on Tuesday, November 2, 1943 in Prince Frederick, Maryland to Florence Stewart (Mama Lou) and (John) William Coates. Johnny, was reared by his devoted and loving grandmother, Florence Stewart Duke, whom he alled "Momma". "Miss Florence" as she was affectionately known, taught Johnny how to farm, cook, how to "make something out of nothing", the importance of family, being kind to and taking care of your fellow man, and the love of God. This training he carried, refined , and shared throughout his life. All who know of his countless stories, jokes, exaggerations (usually to test the listener's naiveté), and home-cooked meals can attest to that.

Johnny was formally educated in the public schools of Calvert County and it was at William Sampson Brooks High School that Johnny's natural athleticism and talent shined. He played varsity basketball, football, and baseball from the age of fourteen with impressive statistics and rave reviews. Upon graduation in 1961 , Johnny received a scholarship from St. Paul College in Lawrenceville, VA and was starting quarterback his freshman year. He was also the first "walk on" freshman to start for the St. Paul Tigers Basketball team. Johnny continued to play baseball and basketball in organized leagues well into adulthood and was a member of the first class inducted into the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC) Hall of Fame in 2001 . It was also during his high school years that Johnny earned the reputation of being a practical joker and a man with no fear. Johnny's love of laughter, a good time, and calculated risks are things he carried with him and spread to all with whom he came in contact.

On July 10, 1961, Johnny was joined in holy matrimony to the former Wilhelmena Toye
in the parsonage of the Carroll United Methodist Church where they both attended.
From this union were born three daughters: Nola, Lynn, and Nina (Boobie). "Johnny's
Girls" were the light of their father's eyes and he was most assuredly theirs! Johnny
and Willie raised their girls in Prince Frederick, Maryland, and taught them that there is
much more to life than what a small town can offer. They instilled their love of travel
and knowledge into their daughters. Johnny was a hardworking, doting, and dedicated
husband and father who sacrificed all he had to protect and care for "his girls".
In 1978, at the incredibly young age of 35, Johnny was stricken with a rare form of
Muscular Dystrophy. The ailment caused him to lose use of his muscles and he
became - generally - immobile. Through tireless care from his wife, Wilhelmena; the
support of his family and friends, his unwavering will and sheer determination he
regained some muscle use and mobility and, with the assistance of crutches or canes,
was able to walk again. While challenged by the illness, Johnny's life was far from
wearisome or restricted. He continued to live life joyously and to the fullest.

In 2008, his resolve was again tested when he was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal
cancer. He confronted that challenge and - despite the prognosis - was triumphant. In
fact, just a few months after surgery, he celebrated his 55th birthday with a "throw down"
party with family and friends.

In the late 1960s, with the changes and merger of Carroll UM Church, Johnny joined Mt.
Olive Church at 811 Dares Beach Road where he was a hardworking and dedicated
member. In 1969, under the tutelage of his father-in-law, (William) Thornton Toye,
Johnny was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in Victoria Lodge #71 F&AM,
PHA for which he served as Most Worshipful Master. From his wheelchair, he tirelessly
organized Oyster Scalds, Bull Roasts and St. John's Day activities. In 1970 he was
elevated to Sublime Prince of Hiram Consistory #2, Valley of Baltimore, Orient of
Maryland. In 1972 he crossed the sands into Jerusalem Temple #4 of the Ancient
Egyptian Arabic Order Noble of the Mystic Shrine of North and South America, Inc.
(A.E.A.O.N.M.S.) Oasis of Baltimore, Desert of Maryland through which he was
elevated to Honorary Past Potentate.

Johnny was a dedicated and passionate Noble. He was a founding member of
Jerusalem Temple's Motor Patrol Unit and proudly led competitions and parades on his
Harley Davidson. Many will tell you that Johnny Stewart and Arthur Hawkins - one of
his oldest, dearest friends and fellow lodge brothers - are the reasons they wanted to
ride; and Johnny would tell you that, "If it ain't a Harley, it ain't a motorcycle." Johnny's
work with and for his fraternal organizations was near and dear to his heart. He relished
the opportunity to mentor and share the many benefits of community service and caring
for others and through this was instrumental in the re-establishment of the Southern
Maryland Shrine Club in 2012 after more than 30 years of dormancy.

Usually with the Shriners, Johnny and Willie traveled throughout North America meeting
new people and making new friends everywhere they went. Everyone was always
amazed to find that regardless of where they went, someone there either knew or had
heard of "Johnny Stewart". Even more amazingly, if you were lost in any major city in
the continental U.S. , you could call Johnny and he could tell you how to get where you
were trying to go with great accuracy and detail, including who you may pass on the
corner to ask for help.

His understanding of general human nature was phenomenal. Many don't know of his
acute ability to observe something or someone for a considerably short time and figure
out how they think or work with uncanny precision. Johnny's knowledge of scripture
was such that he would challenge and take to task many who claimed to know the Word
just to "test their salt" and he would often rise as the victor. Johnny's humor, love of life
and family resound and transmit to each and every person he met; and Johnny never
met a stranger.

Around 4:00AM on Sunday morning, after a restless night, Johnny drifted off to sleep
and - with his family at his bedside on Monday, March 16, 2015 - he was called home
and peacefully tread the hot sands for the last time ending his good and faithful journey.
Johnny was preceded in death by: his devoted grandmother, Florence Stewart Duke;
his father, John William Coates; step-mother, Magnolia Coates; beloved father and
mother in-law, Wm. Thornton and Selma Mason Toye; three (3) brothers: James Moye,
Ralph E. Coates, and Wm. Jerome Coates; one sister, Barbara Ann Coates; and his
"baby sister" in-law, Selma Toye.

John Melbourne Stewart leaves to cherish his memory: his fervent and loving wife of 53
years, Wilhelmena; three dutiful and treasured daughters: Nola S. Adams Cheeks, The
Honorable Lynn Stewart Mays, and Nina N. Stewart (Boobie); his loving mother, Florence Stewart Gross, two sons-in-law: Roy J. Mays, and Steven Cheeks; one adored granddaughter, Erin J. Adams (Bug); five extended grandchildren, Jason Mays (Gretchen), Monica Mays Figueroa (Michael), Justin Mays (Tara), Joshua Cheeks, and India Cheeks; and one great-grandson, Bruno Edward Figueroa.

He also leaves to honor his memory: six sisters, Mary Ghee, Sherlyn Thornton (Loretta),
Sandra Jones (Gaines); Denise Wilkins, Aretha Wills (Travis), and Carmen Sheila
Calhoun; three brothers Stewart Gross, Rodney Gross, and James "Don" Gross; two
Godchildren, Sylvia LaShonda Jones, and Melvin W. "Chippy" Sherbert, Jr.; former son-in-
law, James Ervin Adams; devoted sister and brother-in-law, Velda and Colson Turner; admiring nephew, Jason Turner; sister-in-law, Lucretia Coates; loyal and selfless first cousins Wilcis Freeland, Jr., Melvin W. Sherbert, Sr. and Oliver Joseph Sherbert; lifelong friends Carl Myrke Griffith, Robert "Buddy" Carter, Jr., Vernon (Butch) Jones; constant friends and caretakers Rodney Thomas, Willie "Bo-Bo" Buck, and Marshall Mackall; a multitude of nieces, great-nieces, nephews, and great-nephews who adore their "Uncle Johnny", including: Candace Coates, James Thornton (J.P.), and Solomon Thornton. Among the many mentioned who will hold his memory dear are Brothers of Victoria Lodge #71 ; Nobles of Jerusalem Temple #4; and countless relatives, friends, and admirers.

To send flowers in memory of JOHN MELBOURNE STEWART, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Visitation

Friday

20

Mar

6:00 PM 3/20/2015 6:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 3/20/2015 8:00:00 PM
Mt. Olive UM Church

10 Fairground Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Mt. Olive UM Church
10 Fairground Road Prince Frederick 20678 MD
United States

Visitation

Saturday

21

Mar

12:00 PM 3/21/2015 12:00:00 PM - 1:00 PM 3/21/2015 1:00:00 PM
Mt. Olive UM Church

10 Fairground Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Mt. Olive UM Church
10 Fairground Road Prince Frederick 20678 MD
United States

Service

Saturday

21

Mar

1:00 PM 3/21/2015 1:00:00 PM
Mt. Olive UM Church

10 Fairground Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Mt. Olive UM Church
10 Fairground Road Prince Frederick 20678 MD
United States

Cemetery Details

Saturday

21

Mar

3:00 PM 3/21/2015 3:00:00 PM
Carroll Western Cemetery

Barstow Road
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Carroll Western Cemetery
Barstow Road Prince Frederick 20678 MD
United States
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