Mr. Bobby Nelson Stewart, 87, of Woodbury, Tennessee passed away on Thursday, April 13, 2023. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday, December 31, 1935. Preceding him in death were his parents, Frank and Cora Cantrell Stewart; brother, Jay Stewart; and sister, Juanita Stewart.
He is survived by his wife, Sylvia Nelson Stewart; daughters, Renee Stewart of Smyrna, Anita (Paul) Buck or Georgia, and Julie (Gary Jason) Smith of Goodlettsville; and grandchildren, Emily Byrd, Glen Buck, Dustin Gibson, Darren Gibson, and Jessica Smith.
During Bobby's lifetime, he lived through some of the greatest upheavals in U.S. and world history. From World War II to the Civil Rights Movement, Bobby was there and an ever present help. Graduating from high school in 1953, Bobby immediately answered his Country's call and joined the Army. Unafraid and tough as nails, he was transferred to serve with the 101st Airborne Division.
Becoming a "Screaming Eagle" was something to be proud of. Bobby had watched the 101st Airborne Division fearlessly lead the way on D-Day, knew their integral role throughout WWII, and was ready to fight with them in the Korean War. He just barely missed serving during the Korean War and managed to join the Division during a non-wartime period. However, everything was far from quiet in the world and in the Nation during Bobby's service.
At that time, the Cold War was heading towards its climax. There were races between the superpowers of the world on developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and getting to space. Following the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was also fear of future use of nuclear weapons. This led to the restructuring of the 101st Airborne Division from regiments and battalions to a pentomic division with 5 different battle groups.
The Division moved from Fort Jackson, South Carolina to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the training changed to focus on even faster deployment and greater offensive capabilities in case of nuclear weapons or other advanced technology. All of this happened in just 4 years, from 1953-1957. Bobby learned the traditional military values of discipline, honor, and duty, but the 101st Airborne Division added the necessity to be clever and resourceful since may times they were fighting behind enemy lines with limited supplies and medical attention.
As if the global unrest wasn't enough, Bobby also dealt with unrest within the U.S. during the Civil Rights movement. The 101st Airborne Division played a key role in protecting the "Little Rock Nine" as the United States began the desegregation process in schools. Before Bobby was honorably discharged, he could claim the honors of serving as General William Westmoreland's aide during the early stages of his promotion, and he also was recognized and nominated as Soldier of the Year.
Returning to civilian life, Bobby still had a desire to serve. He worked for the United States Postal Service for a short period. The United Stated remained in upheaval during the Civil Rights Movement, and he watched the world return to turmoil as the Vietnam War began. As the war continued, Bobby began working for an insurance company in Nashville as an underwriter. He remained there during the 1970s and then decided it was time to chase after his dreams.
Bobby always wanted to be a farmer. He settled down in the Auburntown community to begin the Stewart family farm. Dairy and tobacco were his primary products, and he wanted to instill that same sense of discipline, duty, and resourcefulness in his girls. They ran about 50 head of cattle comprised of Holsteins, Brown Swiss, and other breeds, and Bobby made sure he got his girls up early to milk. Outside of farming, Bobby made sure to give his girls a healthy dose of training in gardening as well. He grew a lot of his own vegetables, but tomatoes, pumpkins, and field and snap peas were his specialties.
Now, Bobby must have been a firm believer in the proverb, "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime." His girls knew how to milk, how to garden, and he certainly wasn't going to have them missing out on knowing how to fish. As soon as they were big enough to hold a pole, Bobby had his girls out on the docks. Usually by the age of 5 or 6, he had trained up his little fisherman.
There were so many lessons he shared with his girls from the silly to the serious. One was that you could be a Titans fan, but the Green Bay Packers were the best team. Another was sometimes a drive through the countryside is all you need to turn your day around. Even still, he wanted to be sure those characteristics of value were imbued into his girls.
As a highest degree mason, 33º, he wanted his girls to know: 1) knowledge, passion, and sacrifice to craft and to countryman offer quality of life; 2) a sense of honor and duty add meaning to life; 3) discipline and selflessness give guidance through life; 4) cleverness and resourcefulness allow for contentment in life; and most importantly, 5) life isn't about the years you live. It is about the difference that you make.
Bobby's wishes were to return to his happy place out on the family farm. The family will hold private services.
Share memories and condolences at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337 Because every life has a story