PEI has a strong reputation for friendly, well-connected communities of folks who work together to make local life as positive as possible. Stewart Ives Dewar was one who helped grow the province’s long-standing reputation.
Mr Dewar, of Lower Montague, passed away on Sunday, March 21 at age 94.
“We sure will miss him,” Montague Legion past-president Debi Smith said.
Ms Smith believes her comrade’s experience of the world through the Second World War instilled a sense of duty to serve his community and to pass along values such as the importance of working hard to achieve peace and freedom.
Mr Dewar was underage when he enlisted near the end of the war and fortunately wasn’t dispatched to fight overseas before it ended.
He did however, dedicate decades of spare time to community service, mostly through the Montague Legion Branch #8.
“We could hardly get him to slow down, even as he got older,” Ms Smith said.
Mr Dewar volunteered for everything from peeling potatoes and carrots for fundraising dinners, to meeting and greeting with students during Remembrance Day ceremonies, to chairing the poppy campaign right up until last year.
“He had an encyclopedia for a memory,” Ms Smith said.
To her and many others Mr Dewar was the go-to storyteller at the Legion.
“If a question came up about any of the past members he’d be the one to tell you who was who, what they did when and who they were connected to,” she added.
Mr Dewar earned numerous awards including Life Member of the Legion, Meritorious Service Medal (the next service award level up) and the Canadian Legion’s highest service award, the Palm Leaf Award. He also added two Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medals to his collection.
“He loved touring around to talk to the students,” Ms Smith said, referring to prize presentations to winners in the Legion’s annual Remembrance Day Essay/Poetry contests. Mr Dewar would read and help to judge all of the entries from local schools. He signed hundreds of certificates hoping to encourage students to think about the meaning of Remembrance Day.
He was also an active participant of in-school Remembrance Day ceremonies held in the lead-up to November 11.
Mr Dewar had a knack for building and connecting communities. He enjoyed chatting with everyone about everything.
He was known to regularly visit the Legion office just to chat. On the same day he would be expected to casually stop in to any number of his family members' homes for a chat or to stick around for a meal. When not sharing meals with family he had several favourite breakfast and lunch locations in the Montague area (the Lady Slipper or Stella’s) where, once again, he would strike up a conversation with other patrons just to keep abreast of how everyone was doing.
“He was a great listener,” Legion member Maxine Evans said. Her friendship goes back to when she worked with Mr Dewar when he was meat manager in a local business. He retired from the job at age 65.
“We ended up being a bit of a family at work and a lot of that was because of Stewart,” she said.
Mike Brothers, one of Mr Dewar’s grandchildren, remembers always looking forward to going to the store to see his grandfather, knowing he would be treated with a slice of salami along with a welcome greeting.
“It seems a lot of people around here have that memory of looking forward to going in to chat with him,” Mr Brothers said.
Family was everything to Stewart, Ms Smith said.
Mr Dewar enjoyed watching his family grow to 16 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren. He really liked going to church every Sunday, Mr Brothers said. The kids would often sit by him and his chest would puff right up.
Mr Brothers is happy to say his granddad enjoyed great health and state of mind well into his 94th year.
Mr Dewar’s beloved wife Peggy passed away about 40 years ago. Mr Dewar is survived by his children, Douglas Dewar (Irene), Debbie (Grant) Dixon, Nancy Brothers, Brenda (Charlie) Fay and Stephen (Barb) Dewar. He had 16 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. His funeral service was held on Saturday in the Hillcrest United Church.
Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic