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Ambassador records community life

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Carla McCann
January 20, 2008
— The first thing people notice about Jim Stewart is his warm smile.

One of his other most notable traits is an all-inclusive offer of friendship.


Without a doubt, the 71-year-old Whitewater resident is a man about town and one of the city’s trusted goodwill ambassadors.


Stewart is a former Whitewater School Board member, having served 20 years before stepping down in 2001, and currently is serving a fifth year on the Whitewater City Council as an at-large representative.


“Jim is a longtime public-servant person, who truly enjoys where he lives, sees the positive side of the community and works to strengthen that side,” said Richard Haven, a UW-Whitewater professor and former Whitewater School Board member.


Patrick Singer said he ran unsuccessfully against Stewart two years ago for an open seat on the council. Despite having lost that vie for office, Singer said it was a great race.


What impressed him the most was Stewart’s attitude.


Stewart never lost sight of the ultimate goal, said Singer, who won the District 5 seat on the council in last year’s election.


“At the end of the day, we’re all working for the same cause and community residents,” Singer said. “Jim always was very gracious.”


Stewart’s past is as diverse as his present interests.


He was born in Scotland and immigrated with his family at age 13 to Madison, where other family members lived. He served 20 years in the U.S. Army, before retiring in 1979 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and as a professor of military science.


Stewart has lived in Whitewater for the past 33 years, having moved here to accept the R.O.T.C. instructor’s position at UW-Whitewater.


As the father of five children, Stewart and his wife, Claire, were searching for a safe and welcoming community to raise their children. Whitewater was just the answer to their quest, he said.


Stewart’s affiliation with the local campus, however, didn’t end with his first retirement. He worked another 20 years as the university’s registrar, before retiring again in 2001.


Stewart also has become a seasoned reporter and skilled photographer. He has designed and maintains a Web site for The Whitewater Inland Banner (www.whitewaterbanner.com). The site includes the most recent community news, including sports scores and events. The Web site is an attempt to make information readily accessible, Stewart said.


“I thought, maybe, I’d get about 50 hits a day,” Stewart said.


The site, however, has surpassed his expectations.


After the Nov. 12, 2007, fire at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house, more than 1,100 people logged into Stewart’s site for news, he said.


The Web site is an extension of Stewart’s personality.


It’s always upbeat and filled with the daily life of this community.


“Jim has dedicated many years, much time and energy to serving the community,” said state Rep. Thomas “Kim” Hixson, D-Whitewater, who, until recently, also served on the Whitewater City Council. “He’s always in a good mood and is a very caring individual. He’s just really a nice man.”


JIM STEWART
Age: 71
Community: Whitewater
Occupation: Retired from UW-Whitewater as registrar and from the U.S. Army
Family: Wife, Claire, “to whom I’ve been married 48 years.” Five children, Scott 46; Brenda 45; Gregg, 42; Michael, 38; and Tricia, 36. Nine grandchildren
Favorite hobby or pastime: Computers with emphasis on family video and photography
Favorite CD: Any pipe and drum march
Favorite movie: “The Godfather”
Favorite book: Any current mystery book. Currently reading “Book of the Dead,” by Patricia Cornwell
Role model: Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Three words that best describe you: “Love public service”

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