Harry was the eldest of 3 children born to Frank and Francis (Wilson) Stewart. He was born on April 26, 1939, in Niobrara, Nebraska. Harry excelled in many sports in high school including football. This was significant as he had overcome polio at age 7 and was wheelchair-bound. He overcame his disability and went on to become Niobrara High School’s first athlete to win the Nebraska Sports Writer’s Award for "All-Star State Player” in 1957. Due to this accomplishment, Harry earned a football scholarship to Wayne State College which he attended for two years. He then decided to follow in his father, Frank’s footsteps by joining the US Navy in 1959. Harry trained to become an electrician and was assigned to the battleship USS Saratoga. He proudly wore his USS Saratoga hat throughout his life.
Our Dad and Mother Jackie had dated a few times in high school as friends. While on Navy leave back home, their relationship blossomed into something more. Many Navy love letters later, Harry returned to Nebraska to win the heart of Helen "Jackie" Reynolds. They were married in Niobrara shortly after he was honorably discharged from his service and Jackie graduated from UNL, in June of 1962. They honeymooned their way to California where Harry's parents had moved previously. They began their married life together by the ocean in Santa Ana, California. It was here that their first two children were welcomed with Anna Marie who was born on Harry’s birthday in 1964. Teresa Elaine arrived shortly thereafter in 1965. The couple enjoyed living in the California sunshine for a few years, but the Midwest called them back. Lincoln, Nebraska (where Jackie graduated college) is where the Stewarts settled into their big white house on Dudley street. They added two more to their family including a son, Sean Edward, 1968 and their baby daughter, Stephanie Susan who was born in 1975. Stephanie would be the one who took loving care of Harry and Jackie, both in her home during their last days on earth. Harry and Jackie lived happily ever after on Dudley street for 54 years creating many friendships, blessings, visits, and memories which will never be forgotten.
Harry always had a spirit of innate goodness, community mindfulness and was a very selfless person. However, if he liked you...he gave you a nickname and teased you! He worked for the Lincoln Police Department for two years and then he joined the Lancaster County Deputy Sheriff’s office where he was a big part of their law enforcement family for almost 40 years. Harry excelled as a Deputy because he wholeheartedly believed in "truth, and justice for all no matter who you were. He successfully enjoyed many roles within the department including patrols, being a member of the rescue/recovery scuba team, working narcotics and being a narcotics team trainer, working in Youth court, and being a security guard at gem shows. He earned many distinguished awards in law enforcement including becoming a US Marshall. He received honors for “secret and special projects” in drug enforcement. Even after he was officially retired, he enjoyed his career and co-workers so much that he worked part-time with the front entrance security team at the courthouse until Dementia robbed him of his public duties. His co-workers and those he had once arrested and then helped afterward, fondly remember him for his fairness, bad jokes and ability to make others feel validated. He was fondly known as "Dirty Harry" after Clint Eastwood’s movie character.
During his expansive law enforcement career, Harry’s heart of compassion and service was expressed many times over as it was common for the Stewarts to take in lost souls and troubled teens who needed mentoring. Many people credited Harry with inspiring and helping them become better people. In addition to his full-time career, Harry always had a side painting business where he would teach others a decent trade. Many times he took his kids. Harry taught a good work ethic by example. He also sold Christmas Trees as a part-time job during the holidays. He probably gave away more trees than he sold to needy families. He was giving like that.
Harry’s hobbies included tinkering with and fixing electronics and old radios which was a nod to his electrician training. He loved music of all kinds and he could swing dance with gusto, and he was known to outdance his kids and even his grandkids. He loved all kinds of animals, especially dogs and cats. They seemed naturally drawn to him. It could be that he fed them snacks constantly.
He taught his children many practical lessons too, such as that “duct tape could fix anything”. Most importantly, our father taught us his own “golden rule” which was that you give the same respect to the Janitor that you give to the CEO. Both were equal in his eyes. He always was respectful to everyone he met (a true gentleman). He always had a dollar, a mint or something shiny to offer you from his pocket. It was heartbreaking to watch 10 years of dementia slowly tear him away from us, but his kind nature and loving character remained with him. He had a servant's heart until the very end even when he lost his ability to verbally communicate.
Harry Stewart is survived by his four adult children and their spouses which include Anna (Rey) Alcalde of Lincoln, Teresa (Kurt) Hackbarth of Aspen, CO, Sean (Katherine) Stewart of Lincoln, and Stephanie Stewart (Kyle Dietz) of Lincoln. Harry loved babies and children especially and he was so proud of his kids, and his 19 wonderful grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Harry's beloved wife and soul mate of 57 years, Jackie died in October 2019. Harry missed her dearly, but now they have reunited again in Heaven. Harry is further survived by his younger brother Lonnie Stewart whom he loved dearly. He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Francis Stewart and his younger sister Kris Ann Stewart.
At this time due to the current state of the world, a formal memorial service for Harry will be held later in September 2020. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be sent to Venmo@Anna-Alcalde. These memorial funds will be used to establish a scholarship that will be awared to a Niobrara high school student who is interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. If you have a personal story, thought or joke to share about our wonderful father, grandpa and brother Harry Stewart…we would love to hear from you by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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