Colonel (R) John Patrick Stewart, Ph.D.
Published 9:54 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Colonel John Patrick Stewart, Ph.D. was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 14, 1934, and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He died peacefully in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on May 21, 2023, surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren. He lived a life of service and devotion to his faith, family and country. John spent his career in public service and education. After a 29-year career in the U.S. Army, he retired as a colonel following his last assignment on the faculty at the U.S. Army War College. He then began a second career that lasted 26 years as a professor at both Penn State University and Shippensburg University. He referred to his second career as the “Double Bubble” theory.
He was the oldest child of the late Thomas William and Frances Glasgow Stewart. He loved his Minnesota roots, especially the northern lakes. Along with his sisters, Mary Fran and Ellen, he attended St. Mark’s Grammar School. While there, he served as a police boy, in which role he frequently reported his sister, Mary Fran, for being out of line. He then attended St. Thomas Military Academy from which he graduated in 1952. Recently, he was awarded the Fleming Alumni Veterans Award from St. Thomas. In 1956, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in political science and minors in history and economics. Based on his ROTC performance, he was named a Distinguished Military Graduate. During his college years, he worked for then-Senator (and future Vice President) Hubert Humphrey. One of his highlights was driving Senator Humphrey around the Twin Cities in a red convertible to various events. He considered entering politics himself but instead chose to pursue a career in military aviation. He quickly earned his flight wings and logged more than 2,000 flight hours in his military career. During his two tours of service in Vietnam, while serving with the 129th Aviation Company (101st Airborne Division) in support of the 23rd Artillery group, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism in a mission that saved more than 60 American lives. He was also a chief planner for Operation Junction City, one of the biggest single days of action during the entire war and the first airborne operation since Korea.
After the war, John commanded from battalion to brigade-level units both domestically and abroad. He later taught at both the Air Force War College and the Army War College where he had the chance to host the pilots and planners of key missions from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He was a student of military strategy and enjoyed teaching future Army and Air Force leaders. He was appointed as the Army Ambassador to the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama, where he spent two years before going to the Army War College in Carlisle, where he was the Director of the Center for Strategic Studies. Stewart retired from the Army with the intention of completing a Ph.D. and teaching. He was delayed in his pursuit of that goal when the Bishop of Harrisburg asked him for help on organizational problems. He was assigned to Catholic Charities, where he supervised field offices, reorganized personnel, and administration activities. He represented the Diocese on the Governor of Pennsylvania’s Seasonal Farm Worker Committee and the Three Mile Island Citizens Advocacy Group. He always stood ready to assist marginalized communities and those in need. When the owner of the local creamery fell ill, John volunteered to manage Massey’s Frozen Custard. This combined his desire to assist others with his love of root beer floats. While at Central Army Headquarters in Germany in 1965, he met the soon-to-be love of his life, Mary Elizabeth Campbell, of Vicksburg, Mississippi. They married in June of 1965 and toured the world with their five children: Mary Jane Stewart, Thomas Stewart, William Stewart, Frances Stewart, and Elizabeth Campbell Stewart O’Shea. John and Mary moved 19 times before settling in Carlisle for good in 1981.
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John was often heard saying that “life is a transportation problem.” John returned to Penn State in 1988 to finish his Ph.D. and began teaching graduate courses in Public Administration at the Harrisburg Campus. During his lengthy teaching career, both in the military and at Shippensburg and Penn State, John taught classes from 500-student lectures to small graduate seminars. During that time, he promoted the value of public service and taught numerous distinguished graduates, including future generals, state leaders and a former head of the Pennsylvania State Police. He also served as faculty advisor for the LGBTQ+ community as well as Honorary Fire Chief for State College. John ended his teaching career in May 2014. At the time of his death, he was finalizing a manuscript for his forthcoming book titled Vietnam: A View from the Back Room. One of the greatest tragedies of his life was the loss of his daughter, Mary Jane, who died in 2014 due to lifelong complications from cancer. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Campbell Stewart; four of his children and their spouses; five grandchildren, Jackson Stewart, Will Steggles, Henry Stewart, Campbell Steggles, and Finn Stewart; his sisters, Mary Fran and Ellen, and numerous nieces and nephews. In Vicksburg, he is survived by his brother-in-law, Jerry Campbell, and his sister-in-law, Carole Campbell and their families.
A viewing will be held at Hoffman Funeral Home & Crematory, 2020 W. Trindle Road, Carlisle, on May 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Shrine Church at 152 East Pomfret St, Carlisle, at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 26. The family appreciates all the concern and care given by Dr. Henry Ostman, Dr. William Vonah, and all of the doctors, nurses, and staff at Brook View Healthcare Center at Menno Haven in Chambersburg. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Mary Jane Stewart Magnum PI Scholarship at the Shippensburg University Foundation. Donations may be made online at www.SUFoundation.org/Give-now.