Surrounded by family, Scott Vern Stewart passed away on 5 August 2020 at the age of 70.
Scott was born on 6 August 1949 in Salt Lake City, Utah to loving parents, Boyd and Janice Stewart. Having lost his father when he was only 2 years old, Scott and his mother lived with her mother, his beloved Nana, for several years. During that time, he developed strong bonds with his father’s parents, Grandpa Orie and Grandma Louie. Scott cherished his memories of spending summers down at his grandparents’ place in Fairview, enjoying the cadence and rhythm of both the pleasant and hard aspects of farm life. Until the day he died, he found much joy and peace at the family property up Fairview Canyon.
Life changed in a big way for Scott, who had been the man of the house (and an only child) for several years, when his mother married John Oliver, on 5 August 1960. John brought two sons, Richard and David, to the marriage, and as the years passed, Scott became the older brother to three sisters, Suzanne, Sharyn, and Stacey. As he grew up, he attended Whittier Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High School, and South High School.
Over the years, he regaled his children with stories of the high-spirited antics and hijinks of his teenage years (many of which were in collaboration with his friend, Rich Wilder), several of which his wife, Mary, made him promise not to tell them so as to not to give them ideas of creating mischief of their own. One story that stands out is of him jumping the tracks over a passing train with his motor bike in downtown Salt Lake, timing it just right to volley over fast-moving flat-bed cars (which speaks to his innate skills in math and physics).
After attending South High, he enlisted in the Army National Guard at age 18. He did basic training at Fort Ord in California, where he received his first of many injuries, which led to a life of enduring intense chronic pain, which he stoically bore with grace and dignity. He served for several years in the military, which included serving as a general’s aide. His service culminated with serving as a staff sergeant and an honorable discharge on 23 September 1984.
Ever since he was a young man, Scott embodied the principle of hard work. One of his sisters recounted how he and his friends would bring home buckets of fried chicken from Harman’s Cafe, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee, where he worked in high school. Beginning when he was 16, he also worked at JW Jenkins and Sons, an old-time saddle shop, where he honed his leatherworking skills. The pleasant smell of tanned leather filled his home due to all the many belts and other pieces of leather ware he made over the years for family members and friends.
At the age of 19, Scott married Judy Tryon on 15 May 1969 in the Salt Lake Temple. They were blessed with the birth of a much-loved son, Chuck Dunn. Their marriage later ended in divorce.
His memory as a young man was like a steel trap, which served him well during the years he worked at Salt Lake Hardware. With lightning speed and uncanny accuracy, he could locate inventoried items anywhere in the store or the company catalog.
On 24 August 1973, Scott married the love and focus of his life, Mary Helen Mathews in Salt Lake City in a civil ceremony. They started their new life together in Salt Lake with Mary’s toddler son from her first marriage, Chris McKenzie, whom Scott dearly loved. They later moved to Layton on 9 August 1975, where they felt the bedroom community was well suited to raise a family.
Ever since he was a young man, Scott loved people, and was able to communicate on the same level with those he engaged with, regardless of their educational background or social status. Those skills served him well in the many jobs he had over the years, including at Chris & Dick’s, The Harold E. Stites Supply Company, Time Saver Industrial, and a company for which he sold walk-through- and handheld metal detectors for mines, airports, and prisons. He traveled often for his work in those early years of his and Mary’s marriage, so much that their children thought he lived at the airport.
When Scott was 28, he worked in the oil fields of Wyoming. His purportedly venerable age led his younger co-workers to nickname him “Pops”. He also would do odd jobs to support his family, including a stint where, along with a friend, he painted the screen of a drive-in movie theater. He recalled the immense stress he felt as he scrambled to finish painting the screen, after his friend bailed on him, well into the night, with his legs straddled at the top of the screen, which teetered unnervingly back and forth due to strong gusts of wind, as a movie was projected on the screen.
As Scott and Mary’s family grew, they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple as an eternal family on 20 October 1978. Scott continued to work hard to provide for his family, often shouldering two to three jobs at a time. Among the many jobs he had over the years included working as a milkman on night routes for Cream O’Weber, as an employee for a pet store in the Layton Hills Mall, as a caregiver in the Weber County Mental Health System, and as a construction worker. One line of work that he gained great personal satisfaction from was as a work restitution coordinator for the Davis County Juvenile Court System. Seeing a bit of his young self in the troubled youth he had stewardship over, he was able to connect with them and shepherded many of them onto better paths. Through his efforts and that of others, several of his work crews were able to prepare Antelope Island State Park for reopening two years ahead of schedule in the early 1990s after it had been closed for several years due to rising-lake levels in the 1980s.
As they raised their children, Scott and Mary took several foster children into their home, and gave them at least a temporary reprieve from the turmoil found in their own lives. In the years since, many of them have expressed gratitude to Scott and Mary for the love, stability, and structure they gave them.
Animals brought Scott a lot of genuine joy and satisfaction throughout his life. As he and Mary raised their children, he ran a dog kennel on the side, Von Kaiser Kennels, which was named after his prized and cherished canine companion, Kaiser, a pure-bred German shepherd. Although he probably broke even most of the time, Scott enjoyed breeding and selling not only German shepherds (several of which were sold to police departments and search-and-rescue teams throughout northern Utah), but also Rottweilers and even Pomeranians. His children learned of the sanctity of life by helping, often into the wee hours of the night, with the birth of several litters of puppies in a birthing box built by Scott in the basement of their home.
He also provided attack and guard-dog training, which was a source of pride for his children. There are probably not many children who have the opportunity to watch their father, decked in full protective gear, train dogs to lunge and attack.
Scott’s home was a veritable Noah’s ark, where his kids were able to raise not only several breeds of dogs, but also cats, ducks, chickens (and a much-loathed rooster), hamsters, ferrets, tropical fish, parrots, sugar gliders, and even a hedgehog.
Scott loved and adored his children. He regularly participated as a “room father” in his children’s classroom activities. And he loved taking them deer hunting on the family property, target-shooting up nearby canyons, and on multiple fishing trips. He loved joking with them and teasing them. Scott also gave them comical nicknames, some of which his children still call each other.
And it goes without saying that he absolutely loved his grandchildren – every single one of them. On the phone or at a family gathering, when they would tell him they loved him, he would rejoin with, “Love you more!” He loved being a part of their lives.
Throughout his life, Scott, a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had complete faith in the redemptive power of the atonement of Christ. He loved his Savior with all his heart and looked forward to the day he could be made free of the pain his body suffered for much of his adult life. We are grateful that he is now free of the physical suffering he endured for so long.
Scott was preceded in death by his son, Chris. He is survived by Mary, his beloved wife of 47 years; his siblings, Richard Oliver (Beverly), David Oliver (Carol), Suzanne Oliver, Sharyn Tarpley, Stacey Campbell (Richard); his children, Chuck Dunn, Ryan Stewart (Aimee), Boyd Stewart (Shelly), Janice Vernet (Paul), Anna Worthen (Joshua), Nathan Stewart (Angela); and 24 grandchildren.
Due to the current pandemic, a public memorial service will be held at a future date. A private memorial will be held on Saturday, 5 September 2020.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org