Judge Ronald Blaine Stewart passed from this life into the presence of the Savior whom he loved on April 3, at the age of 87. All who knew Stewart knew him to be a man of extraordinary kindness and integrity, intelligence and fair-mindedness.
Stewart’s long judicial career, both in military and civilian service, earned him many honors and recognitions. Stewart retired from a 30-year career in the U. S. Army having served in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps as a trial lawyer, then military judge, where he tried cases on three continents and across the United States.
Stewart was named “The Outstanding Trial Judge in the United States” for special courts in May 1984 when he was awarded the Franklin N. Flaschner Judicial Award presented by the National Conference of Special Court Judges of the American Bar Association, an honor viewed as the “Pulitzer Prize” among judges in courts that are special, or limited jurisdiction. He was the only military judge and the only Kentucky judge to ever receive the honor.
The Flaschner Award came during Stewart’s final year of military service as he neared 14 years on the bench, making him at that time, the Army’s most experienced judge. Among his military awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal (three Oak Leaf Clusters), Good Conduct Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), National Defense Service Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Vietnam Service Medal (two Campaign Stars), Vietnam Campaign Medal (60 devices), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Palm), two Combat Service Bars, and was inducted into the Ancient Order of St. Barbara.
Following his retirement from the Army, Stewart returned to his hometown of Williamsburg, where he was born and raised, and served the people of Kentucky as a District Court Judge, 34th District, for Whitley and McCreary Counties, for three terms. Stewart saw the District Court as “the people’s court” and devoted time in each case making sure defendants understood the deliberating process and the law.
Throughout his career, Stewart helped others grow in appreciation for the law and the judicial process. As a military judge, he developed a series of courses helping train Army trial lawyers for the courtroom, and as a district judge, he held “Kids Court’ each year sharing his experiences with local youth and explaining court procedures.
Stewart earned degrees from then Cumberland College, and two degrees, including a law degree, from the University of Kentucky. The post-graduate thesis he produced during his studies at the University of Virginia JAG School was published.
Known for his devotion to God, his country, and his family, Stewart saw each as an important part of his life. A long-time member of Main Street Baptist Church, Williamsburg, Stewart served many years as a deacon and a Sunday School teacher, and was an active member of the Gideons International for 20 years. Stewart never tired of helping others, often providing pro bono legal work for others after his retirement. Stewart was an avid skeet shooter and coached many in the sport.
Stewart was devoted to his wife of almost 65 years, Carolyn Archer Stewart, and often spoke of her to others as a faithful and supportive companion who enriched his life.
Stewart was preceded in death by his mother Edna M. Stewart and father Walter Stewart. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and two sons, Robert Stewart (Marilyn), Professor of Philosophy and Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Don Stewart (Janie), Senior Director of Security Operations and Intelligence, Core Civic, of Springfield, Tn., five grandchildren: Raymond Blaine Stewart, Bethany Stewart Neal (Paul), Rebekah Stewart Melendez (Mario), Julia Stewart, and Sarah Stewart Brunson; and two great-grandchildren, Thomas Wyble and Noella Neal.
The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 9:00 P.M. Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at Croley Funeral Home.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Thursday, April 8, at the Croley Funeral Home Chapel with Dr. Jerry Lowrie and Rev. Billy Carpenter officiating. He will be laid to rest following Military Graveside Honors at 2:30 P.M. Thursday, April 8, at the Mill Springs National Cemetery in Nancy, Kentucky.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention or to Gideons International.
Condolences may be made to the family at www.croleyfh.com
Croley Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.