For the people who knew William Stewart best, last Thursday’s ceremony was a fitting tribute to a life well lived.
His friends and neighbors at Woodcrest Condominiums in Mount Kisco, where Stewart and his wife Joan moved into more than a decade ago, realize the void in their lives once Stewart passed away in April at 86 years old.
Last Thursday evening, the complex and its residents dedicated its flag and flagpole to Stewart. As a Korean War veteran, a nearly seven-decade member of the Mount Kisco Independent Fire Company and one-time department chief who had a nearly equally long tenure with the department’s Ancient Fife and Drum Corps, the man they called Bill was a patriotic American, dedicated to the village and to the Woodcrest community.
“He was truly one of the most unique people I have ever known,” said Woodcrest resident and friend Bill Manning. “He was kind, he was polite, quiet, completely dedicated. It is fitting that the (condominium) board dedicated the flag in Bill’s honor. He loved our country and its symbol, the flag.”
Every day, Stewart, along with fellow Woodcrest resident and high school classmate Cece Yazzo, would raise the flag at daybreak and lower it at dusk. Until the complex was able to install lights near the base of the flagpole last December –protocol requires that the flag is illuminated at night or it must be taken down– that would be his routine every day, Yazzo said.
Whenever he would drive past the flagpole, he would get out of his car and salute the flag.
“He was an all-American man,” Yazzo said. “He was very proud of everything and meticulous in everything he did. He really was a good man.”
Shortly after his death, Board President Marilyn Hardy said residents stepped forward at a condo board meeting and wanted to find an appropriate way to honor Stewart. Hardy said if another resident in the age-restricted community needed help, Stewart would reach out to them.
The dedication and ceremony, which was moved indoors to the condominium’s clubhouse because of a persistent
“If something was wrong with a unit, Bill was there. If somebody needed a ride, Bill was there,” Hardy said.
Bert Scappaticci, who as a teacher knew Stewart because he had his children as students, said he misses his friend and neighbor. He had visited him in the hospital earlier this year and was encouraged that Stewart was looking forward to coming home and resuming his routine at Woodcrest.
When the Stewarts moved in, he and Scappaticci became good friends. Stewart was the first to volunteer for anything around the complex.
“In a way, he and I spoke the same language, which is interesting in itself because as we all know, Bill was not known for being a big talker – unless, of course, you pushed the right button, which was anything about the fire department or things going on in the village, especially about the history of Mount Kisco or even about Woodcrest,” Scappaticci said.
Stewart retired as president of Thomas Fox and Son Caterers. In addition to his service with the fire department and the Fife and Drum Corps, he was a member of the Mount Kisco Rotary Club, being named Citizen of the Year for 1993; was a member of Mount Kisco Historical Society; and was a lifelong parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi Church.
He and his wife had five children and nine grandchildren. Stewart is also survived by his sister-in-law, Pat Reilly, a former Mount Kisco mayor.
His widow, Joan, remarked about how much they enjoyed living at Woodcrest and how pleased her husband would be.
“In the end, I wanted you to know that Bill is smiling down upon us,” she said.
Mount Kisco Deputy Mayor Jean Farber said in the fall the village will formally honor Stewart for his service to the community.