Funeral services are scheduled for George S. Stewart, a former Los Rios Community College trustee and a longtime dentist in Sacramento.
Stewart, 93, died Thursday in Sacramento at his home with Connie, his wife of 67 years, at his bedside.
“He was a very complicated man,” Connie Stewart said. “He had a depth of feeling for everything that he loved. He was very committed to completing his commitments and bringing them to fulfillment.”
His family said Stewart was one of Sacramento’s first African American dentists, opening his initial dental practice in a portion of his Oak Park home. He served on the Los Rios board for 16 years after being elected in 1967.
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Stewart, the son of a clergyman and a teacher, was an Army truck driver during World War II in the European theater. He drove trucks in a segregated unit, delivering supplies, ammunition and fuel to the front lines.
Stewart remembered transporting allied soldiers from prisoner of war camps after Germany’s surrender. According to his family, the sight of the emaciated, liberated soldiers was a searing experience for the young Stewart.
Back in the states, and then married to the former Ruby Constance “Connie” Reid, he eventually enrolled in dental school at Meharry Medical College in Nashville at the suggestion of an African American dentist.
To supplement his GI Bill benefits, he worked summers as a train dining car waiter. His family said the sight of California’s palm trees and orange groves drew him to settle in the West.
After graduating from dental school in 1954, Stewart and his wife moved to Sacramento.
His wife said that while on the board, he was committed to equal opportunity. He also expressed satisfaction in helping to keep Hughes Stadium operating as part of the community.
“His greatest accomplishment was the ability to open up employment for minorities, especially those in the African American community,” Connie Stewart said.
However, his tenure was not always smooth. He sometimes feuded with other members of the board, once calling a trustee racist for asking if a consultant hired by the board had worked in Stewart’s re-election campaign.
He also took out an ad in The Bee against a Bee reporter, accusing him of writing biased articles.
Stewart retired from private practice in the mid-1980s and went to work as a dentist at Folsom State Prison until the mid-1990s. In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling, fishing and cultivating bonsai.
For several years, he had been in failing health. Recently, he needed surgery to repair a broken femur suffered in a fall.
He is survived by his wife; daughter, Amelia Stewart Rossini; son, John Wheatley Stewart; and a grandson.
Visitation is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Morgan Jones Funeral Home, 4200 Broadway. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 2100 J St.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Los Rios Foundation, In the memory of Dr. George S. Stewart, 1919 Spanos Court, Sacramento, CA 95825.