John Ewin Stewart passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife, Maxine, and his family on April 17, 2012.
A longtime Mercer Island resident, John was born to Edna Ewin and Benjamin Duane Stewart on December 9, 1912, in Juneau, Alaska Territory, the second-eldest son of a family of five children. John’s growing up in Alaska brought numerous outdoor experiences, but his formal education was overseen by his mother, a professor of English literature in St. Louis prior to her engagement to B.D. Stewart.
John excelled in school but was passionate about aircraft, working on engines, and the mechanics of equipment. During his youth, he drove a Model A dump truck in the construction of the Al-Can Highway and helped to survey and set boundary markers for the original Mount McKinley National Park. Fascinated with the emergence of bush flying, John taught himself to become a certified bush pilot mechanic in high school.
Moving to Seattle, John became a pre-med student at the University of Washington, graduating in 1936 with a B.S. degree. He then continued to Harvard Medical School, receiving his M.D. degree in 1941. After a one-year internship in Oakland, California, John joined the U.S. Navy to offer his medical services during World War II.
Volunteering as a physician to the 2nd Division of the Marine Corps, he spent the war in the South Pacific and was awarded a Legion of Merit for his actions in treating and evacuating wounded men from the beaches of Tarawa, After the war, John returned to Harvard to finish specialty training in orthopedic surgery.
Moving back to Seattle in 1951, John set up an orthopedics practice on First Hill with Dr. Forest L. Flashman. Over the years, the practice would evolve into today’s Orthopedic Physician Associates.
John remained at Swedish Hospital for over 25 years, specializing in neck and back surgery and serving as chief of staff in 1976–1978. During his tenure at Swedish, he would also donate months of his time to the hospital ship Hope in Peru and Nicaragua.
On retiring from his Seattle practice in 1978, John with his wife Mary spent two years performing surgery and teaching at a medical center in Moshi, Tanzania, and another year at a medical center in Malawi, East Africa.
Returning from Africa to Mercer Island, John continued to teach at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Harborview Hospital until he was 76 years old—a medical career spanning 47 years of dedicated service.
John was predeceased by his parents, his wife Mary Louise, his brother B.D., sisters Mary and Jeannette, and his younger brother, Tom.
Memorial services will be held at on Mercer Island, on Monday, April 30, at 3 p.m.
Remembrances may be made to the Swedish Medical Center Foundation.