Locals impacted by Frank Stewart
James Frank Stewart III, a native, lifelong resident and highly respected business and church leader of Hartselle, died unexpectedly Oct. 7, after undergoing heart bypass surgery at Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham. He was 76.
A 1953 graduate of the former Morgan County High School and a 1957 graduate of Auburn University, Stewart owned and operated Western Auto Store for 33 years. He sold the stock and leased the building in 1995 to devote full time to his purebred beefmaster cattle farm in the Neel community and continue an active role in church, community and humanitarian activities.
His passion for cattle farming stemmed from his work in 4-H in the 1940s when he won county, district and state awards at fat calf shows. He was a longtime active member and former president of the Morgan County Cattlemen’s Association and also served in positions of responsibility with state and national Beefmaster Cattlemen’s Associations.
“He knew his cattle and just about any cattleman you’d meet in Alabama or the southeast knew Frank Stewart,” said Rassie Wallace, a fellow member of Morgan County Cattlemen. “He’d give you the shirt off his back, but he didn’t want any credit. It was a blessing to have him as a friend.”
Stewart was also well known as a man of wit and dry humor – someone who got a kick out of pulling something on one of his friends.
“We were the best of friends and, every time we’d meet, he’d ask me if I could help him out with his lunch or dinner,” said Jim Corum, co-owner of Corum Building and Farm Supply. “I’d ask him how much he needed and he’d always say ‘two or three dollars.’ Then I’d pull my wallet out and ask him if he had change for a $100 bill. That would get a big laugh from both of us.
“That’s not all,” he added. “Just last year he gave me a can of possum meat as a gift after he returned home from a trip. Frank was one of the good guys – someone who was always willing to help others in need.”
“He and I went to the same school, played sports together and were roommates at Auburn,” said close personal friend Robert Peck. “He was always looking for ways to help other people. He was a strong supporter and leader in his church. He was a successful businessman and cattle farmer and he was always doing something to help the community. But perhaps most of all he was a strong family man. He loved his wife, children and grandchildren.”
He leaves behind his wife, Virginia Ann, two sons and their wives, a daughter and six grandchildren.