Sydney Elwin Stewart
1927 - 2015
Sydney (Syd) Stewart taught music in Adventist schools for 36 years. A trumpet player, he attended Walla Walla College, now University, graduating in 1953, one of the first to graduate with a music education degree. He began teaching that fall at Laurelwood Academy, at that time the largest academy in Adventist education. During the next four years, while teaching full-time, he continued his study in music, completing all coursework for a master's degree in music at Lewis and Clark College.
In 1957 he accepted a position at Lodi Academy in California. During the next ten years, he developed an outstanding band program through upholding high standards in performance of quality music. He featured nationally known performers such as Rafael Mendez and Philip Farkas as soloists and guest conductors in his concerts. He also conducted a brass choir that performed only sacred music, including that of his favorite composer, J. S. Bach.
Following three years in which he taught at Orangewood Academy and La Sierra Academy, he resigned, planning to go into business. That summer, however, he was approached about teaching on a temporary basis at South Bay Junior Academy in the Los Angeles area. Once there, he discovered he was also expected to teach in a number of areas, an experience he found both stimulating and fulfilling.
Two years later, he was invited to go to Eldorado Junior Academy in Placerville, California, to fill a similar position, where he taught for the next eight years. During that time his bands consistently received high ratings at festivals. He completed his career at Pendelton Junior Academy in Oregon, where he served as treasurer, taught classes, and directed the band for nine years.
Stewart enjoyed performing on his instrument. Near the end of his career and after retiring from teaching and moving to College Place, Washington, he played in ensembles in Pendleton, at nearby Walla Walla College, now university, and in the College Place Church. He and his wife, Lela Mildred (Smith), were active in church sponsored community service activities.
Sources: Interview, 2005, obituary, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin,19 November 2015, A7 and subsequent contacts; personal knowledge.