James Orton (Jim) Stewart Jr.
James Orton (Jim) Stewart, Jr. of Houston, TX. passed away peacefully on September 13, 2023, at the age of 97.
He was born in Lake Charles, LA. on November 11, 1925, to Orton and Ruby Carruthers Stewart. After graduating from St. Anthony High School in Beaumont, TX. in 1944, Jim joined the United States Navy and served in the South Pacific during World War II. He was at sea heading to Japan for what was to be a horrific battle, when suddenly a telegraph arrived aboard ship heralding the end of the war.
After an honorable discharge, Jim attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. followed by North Texas State University in Denton, TX., where he received his bachelor’s degree. Jim initially taught at a school in New Orleans. After his first year, he accepted a summer position as Recreational Director at Lake Murray Lodge in Ardmore, OK., where Jim’s quick wit and charismatic personality led to a job offer working in radio for WBYE in Oklahoma City, OK. The station owner Frank Lynch and Jim remained life-long friends. Jim relayed a story in which Frank noticed him walking to church on a Sunday morning, saying later that he could not believe a man 26 years old would walk 10 miles to church without being prompted by his parents.
While at Lake Murray, Jim met Norma “Jo” Holland, while she was there for the weekend with a group of girlfriends. On February 27, 1954, Jim married Jo, and together they built a beautiful life over the following 69+ years.
Jim later accepted a position in New Orleans, LA. at WNOE in 1956. He soon became a broadcasting legend. Jim and Jo moved to Oklahoma City, OK. in 1986. When Jo retired in 1988, Jim and Jo moved to Houston, TX.
Jim was a big LSU tiger fan, an avid reader, which he shared with Jo including reading the 100 greatest books of the 20th century named by the New York Times and Houston Chronicle. He also was the author of three books chronicling his early years during the Great Depression, his career in radio, and his extraordinary experiences while serving in the Navy.
Jim was a prayerful man, who often attributed his grandmother Ella Lyons Carruthers and parents for raising Jim as a Catholic. His grandmother Ella left her rosary for Jim, which he cherished throughout his life. Jim was a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church Houston.
Jim is preceded in death by his father and mother, Orton and Ruby Stewart, sons James O. (Jamie) Stewart, III and Joey Shawn Stewart, and his brother Gerald A. Stewart. Survivors include his “darling” wife Jo, his children, Janet S. Featherston and her husband Robert; Julie S. Melton and her husband Richard; his grand-children Shawn J. Stewart, Taylor B. Melton and his wife Kendyll, Kaitlyn H. Melton, and Wyatt S. Stewart and his wife Alicia; great-granddaughter Cameron E. Stewart as well as numerous nieces, nephews and extended family members.
The family wishes to thank the care team at Bristol Park at Cypress Assisted Living & Memory Care, especially Jamie Welch and Kim Pera, along with Altus Hospice for their loving care of Jim in his final days.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jim’s memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN. 38105
The following is an excerpt from Jim’s book titled Tiger Point, chapter 27 titled “Shattered Heartstrings.”
The llama calf boots with the well-worn pebbled surface would never be polished again. The contract that my brother drew up, binding us for life to keep the glow on those boots was broken. In a cowardly act, time consumes the human body and wears out the most beautiful and endearing contribution that God planted in man, the heart. Paw Paw’s heart failed him during the night as I lay beside him.
This is a time in one’s life when we reflect on our own frailties and strengths. How can we withstand this moment? How can the wife, the children, and the grandchildren, the ones so close and who loved him so dearly continue?
We will, because Paw Paw’s heart gave us the strength to do so. Through his everyday example of kindness, gentleness and love, we will be able to continue the routine for he has shown the way. All is not lost. The soul remains and it is indestructible.
As usual, Gerald and I were sleeping on the screened porch for the stars seemed to be in bed with us and the symphony of all the night sounds played to our imaginations. The three of us were able to discuss and relive the meeting of the great tiger. It was the most precious secret and well kept. We would discuss the tiger half the night—one of the things that made Paw Paw such a special grandfather. This particular night we had been asleep an hour when we heard Paw Paw gasp. I spoke to him, asking if he was all right. There was no response, so I called out again with the same result. I rushed to my parents’ room and at the same time, in my haste, awakened the entire house. My father came immediately and tried to render aid. He then picked up Paw Paw and carried him to the living room, where by now everyone had gathered. My father told his brother to drive to Sulfur, LA. and get Dr. Mills. I rode with him and shortly after we arrived back home, Dr. Mills pronounced Johnny C. Carruthers dead.
The year was 1932 and our grandfather was buried in Lake Charles, LA. All those who loved him were at the services. I was 7 years old and heartbroken.
Returning to our home after the services that evening, Gerald and I wanted to sleep on the porch. Darkness overtook the fields of Tiger Point. Even the lightening bugs failed to come up to play and the crickets remained silent. All of God’s creatures seemed to be mute, except one. The tigers roar in the distance was of anguish. He too, knew Paw Paw had gone away forever.
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