George Stewart passed away February 6, 2023, at the age of 95. He lived a life filled with gusto. He packed many things into this life; his main passion was his family.
He was born to Jean and Louis Stewart on October 24th, 1927 in Brooklyn, NY. The family moved to Ohio with his younger brother Stanley when he was 5. He lived the rest of his days in Cincinnati, Ohio and made contributions in the areas of business, real estate, family, and community. He was a life-long learner who saw the world through a unique lens and used this perspective to launch himself into many projects which became adventures in their own right.
As a teenager, George participated in the Boy Scouts and rose to become an Eagle Scout. He spent his younger years riding his bicycle all over town, learning the ins and outs of the train stations and rail yards which began his lifelong fascination with railroads. At the same time, he watched the workings of the river, even swimming across the Ohio River. Later in life he merged these interests with his businesses.
George graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1949. He was also involved in fraternity life and served as President and Treasurer of the Sigma Alpha Mu (SAMI) fraternity.
After college he began his business career as a scrap metal broker for the Cincinnati based David J. Joseph Company. He traveled the countryside and developed many contacts in the field. While in Houston, one of his customers was the Robinson Iron & Metal Company. There he met the family of his future wife Anita Robinson. Anita’s father and brothers invited George to their home for dinner. These dinners led to a courtship and, in 1952, George and Anita began what would become seventy years of married life together.
George had established a reputation for hard work and became the district manager for the David Joseph Company. However, he wanted to pursue other interests and eventually left the Joseph Company after twenty-five years of service. He became involved in residential real estate management and development, beginning with single family homesites in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. This led to his association with a Homearama land developer that would last for years. One of the early developments near the airport included streets named after his six children.
George made investments and business relationships that would last for decades starting with an alloy plant in Tennessee; and later a chain of furniture rental stores in Michigan and Ohio that he created with a partner. There was an equipment leasing company, and apartment complexes in New Orleans and Houston. Other investments included a metal parts fabrication and machining company, a clothing manufacturer, meat packing plants, and a department store chain. George was always looking at proposed business ventures. He was happy to look over or hear anyone’s ideas and provided consultation to many over the years. George was curious by nature and brought a creative problem-solving style to work. He was an early learner on computers and email and a regular visitor at the camera shop where his purchases ranged from a James Bond Minox in the 1960s to the latest digital equipment.
George had a vision of urban waterfront development along Cincinnati's Riverfront and became the catalyst for much of what it is today. He moved his offices to the East End and later he and Anita moved from the suburbs to a penthouse condominium at his Adams Landing development. George purchased adjacent future redevelopment sites along Eastern Avenue including a tract holding a barge terminal. When the tenant operating that terminal left in 2007, he added barge terminal operator to his already large list of business activities.
For several years, George kept horses on his farm property in northern Kentucky and his horse was a tall Quarter Horse named Buck. He was also known to ride a dirt bike or an all-terrain vehicle, which was more difficult to control than Buck. He spent many weekends there with his family. George had two private railroad cars that had previously belonged to the railroad for use by their executives. These were kept at Union Terminal and used for travel like a motorhome on rails by the family – an extraordinary experience. When Amtrak came along, nationalizing rail passenger service, the cars had to be sold
George delighted in traveling with Anita and together they saw the world. For them it was also important that their children experience other cities, countries, and modes of travel. A family of eight traveling in Italy, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, drew lots of stares!
George loved Cincinnati and was a generous supporter of the Arts and various institutions and charities. He donated perennially in support of numerous organizations which included the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Symphony, Adath Israel Congregation, Hebrew Union College, Cedar Village, and the Jewish Community Center. He was a founding member at Temple Shalom and served on many committees there at its inception. On his travels, he would sing the praises of his hometown to anyone who would listen.
He held memberships at multiple golf clubs and enjoyed nothing more than a round of golf. His passion for the game of golf provided a backdrop for conducting business meetings, as well as spending quality time with his friends and family. He particularly enjoyed rounds of golf with his children and later his grandchildren.
After suffering a stroke in his mid-80s, George entertained the nursing staff at the Kenwood Senior Star in his remaining years with his wit and humor.
Following a graveside service on February 9th, George was interred at the Rest Haven cemetery in Blue Ash. He is survived by his wife Anita and their six children, Merrie (John) Stillpass, Charles (Deena Newman) Stewart, Jeffrey (Diana) Stewart, Edward (Susan Enzer) Stewart, Ellen Stewart and Richard Stewart; and nine grandchildren, Louis and Erik Stillpass; Adam, Michael, Samuel, Ethan and Emily Stewart; and Sophia and Adrian Oratowski.
The family would appreciate donations in George’s memory to Adath Israel Congregation, JEEP- Jewish Education for Every Person, or Hospice of Cincinnati.
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