Retired district judge and U.S. Army Colonel Ronald Blaine Stewart was both an officer and a gentleman.
He had this classy quality about him, but was also down to earth at the same time.
Judge Stewart passed away Saturday at the age of 87.
He was born and raised in Williamsburg, and served in the U.S. Army for 30 years before retiring as a military judge. Then he served three terms as a district court judge for Whitley and McCreary counties.
When Judge Stewart was still on the bench, I would have the need to contact him from time to time about things, and he always took my calls or returned them if he wasn’t in.
When I asked him how his day was going, he always jokingly told me with a laugh, “It’s never a good day when the press is calling.”
I always enjoyed talking with him, and I would periodically see him out in the community even after he retired whether it be at the courthouse where he was doing some pro bono legal work for a friend, or at a function where veterans were being honored, or a number of other places and events.
The last time that I recall speaking with him was about three years ago at a skeet shooting event at the Whitley County Fair that was named in his honor. For those, who don’t know, Judge Stewart used to be an avid skeet shooter and coached many in the sport.
Judge Stewart believed that if any court was the people’s court, then it was district court, and said this exact thing when I interviewed him before his 1999 retirement.
“I have always tried to make people understand what is going on in their case. If we are to serve our function of changing people’s conduct, how are they going to be changed if they don’t know what happened to them,” he said during the interview.
I don’t think that I ever spoke to Judge Stewart when I didn’t call him judge, even after he retired. He was just one of those people who commanded respect without even trying.
The world has lost a great man with Judge Stewart’s passing. My condolences go out to his family.
Now to touch on a couple of other topics before I conclude this column.
The Whitley County Extension Office Fine Arts program recently held a virtual photography contest, and received quite a few quality entries.
There is a nine-minute You Tube video at https://youtu.be/0OhpZQXoqIg, which features the submitted photos and the winners. It is worth checking out if you get the chance.
So, Thursday evening, I got my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and I can attest that its reputation for being unpleasant is well founded.
I didn’t start feeling bad until about 16 hours after I got the vaccine. Then the body aches and chills hit. There was the sore arm for a good four days, and surprisingly a cough that I did not expect.
My advice to anyone looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to try and get one of the other vaccines besides Moderna.
With that said though, if the only vaccine available to me was Moderna then I would still take it despite the side effects.
How we get rid of this pandemic and get life back to normal – if anyone can still remember what that is at this point – is by getting a majority of the public vaccinated. I would encourage everyone, who can get vaccinated, to do so.
Remember, you’re not just getting vaccinated for yourself. You’re getting vaccinated so all the school children can hopefully return to class in-person this fall. You’re getting vaccinated so businesses can fully open again and so you don’t accidentally spread this virus to other people.