The words of his father, a porter from the Bahamas, echoed in Everett Stewart Sr.’s head as he grew up in Overtown.
Stewart’s father Samuel “wanted to hear the J-O-B talk.” Stewart’s mother, Louise, talked of college. She saw the opportunities in education.
Stewart, a retired elementary teacher and Brownsville activist, blended both.
In 2005, Stewart, then president of the Brownsville Neighborhood Civic Association and later president emeritus, was honored for his work in renovating the community. A multipurpose recreation center inside Jefferson Reaves Sr. Park was christened The Everett Stewart Sr. Community Center.
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Five years later, in 2010, Miami-Dade leaders broke ground on Everett Stewart Sr. Village, a 96-unit apartment building that provides affordable housing to Brownsville families.
“From public works infrastructure to playgrounds, community centers, business plazas and banks to affordable housing and restaurants, Mr. Stewart was the driving force behind the improvements,” said Kenneth Kilpatrick, current president of the Brownsville Civic Neighborhood Association.
Stewart, who died Sept. 28 at 81, listened to both parents. He sought higher education — at St. Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina, for a bachelor’s in elementary education, and a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. And he had a career as an elementary school teacher in Miami-Dade for four decades at numerous schools, including Lillie C. Evans Elementary where, in 1984, he piloted Miami-Dade’s first Mobile Career Lab in Liberty City. He also taught at Lorah Park Elementary, Auburndale Elementary School and Poinciana Park Elementary.
All the while, Stewart, a Christmas Day baby born in Overtown, juggled community service after moving to Brownsville in 1952. He became president of the neighborhood civic association in 1993.
“My dad just had a giving heart,” said his daughter Parrinder Ann Terry. “My dad, he just fought for social justice for all. All the politicians sought his endorsement. He was a no-nonsense person.”
Indeed, “If you are not at the table, you don’t get a slice of the pie. He never gave up,” former County Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler told the Herald in 2005. The two worked closely on Brownsville improvement projects like sidewalks, street lights and neighborhood park amenities.
We didn’t have a decent place for our kids. Boy, I fought hard for that.
Everett Stewart Sr. on his fight for Brownsville infrastructure improvements, including new park amenities for children.
After graduating from Dorsey High School in Liberty City in 1953, a friend suggested that Stewart work his way through St. Augustine College.
“Someone helped me, so I help others,” he told the Herald in 2005. “You’ve got to give back.”
And so he did, said Kilpatrick.
“Mr. Stewart's contributions to the Brownsville community are immeasurable,” Kilpatrick said. “His work set the platform for much of the growth that the community has experienced and will experience for years to come. … He was our giant. He was our example.”
Stewart, predeceased by son Everett Jr., is also survived by his children Deadra Maria Stewart and Kelvin Leroy; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s Wesleyan Methodist Church, 4798 NW Eighth Ave., Miami.