by Michael Scharff


I first met Stewart back in January 1977, just two weeks after I joined the Department. I had the pleasure of knowing him for 39 years.

Stewart was truly unique. He not only saw things through his own special prism, but also readily shared his view of the world with others, with very little filter. And so Stewart was endlessly interesting because you never could predict what he would say (or do). Yes, Stewart had a number of quirks - for example, he would race across a room to answer anybody's ringing phone - but these just added to his uniqueness.

Stewart was in the Property Bureau for his entire 40-year career, working as a field examiner and in the office. For those of us new to the Department, Stewart gave us valuable insight as to how the NYSID really worked. If you needed help filling out an expense voucher, Stewart gladly provided assistance.

Stewart had a great memory and could recall trivia, dates, and incidents from long ago. He could also draw connections, often humorous, that others failed to see. He had other talents as well. For example, on a 1979 Empire Blue Cross exam in New York City, he amazed the crew with his ability to instantly state the day of the week on which a particular date fell in any year.

I next worked with Stewart on an exam in Buffalo in the summer of 1980. He was a fairly observant Jew and I often joined him on his trips to kosher restaurants in Buffalo. We also frequented the racetrack and baseball games.

In 1983, I was assigned to conduct an exam in Portland, Maine. I asked the field unit head if Stewart could join me on the exam and he agreed. Stew proved to be a valuable addition to the examination team. But we also had fun after work, getting together a couple of times each week to dine at one of Portland's many fine seafood restaurants and then either going to a hockey game or playing pool. Stewart was a fine pool player.

The Portland exam turned out to be Stewart’s last field assignment, as the powers-that-be determined that his skills were most needed in the office. And so from 1984 until his retirement in 2006, Stewart remained in the office.

Toward the close of his NYSID career, Stewart enjoyed a second career as an entertaining speaker at Department retirement luncheons. He would regale the audience with poignant observations of the retiree. The more luncheon speeches he gave, the more he was in demand.

Stewart would invariably conclude his presentations by singing lyrics he had composed for each retiree, using the melody of "Thanks for the Memory."

And so I thought it appropriate to honor Stewart with my own little ditty:

Thanks for the memory
Of reports proofread with great flair and expense vouchers reviewed with great care
Of trivia knowledge extraordinaire
Of the funny things you made us aware

Thanks for the memory
Of good times at Empire, the camaraderie you did inspire
Of gray hairs you gave to EIC Frances Hom
But you did your work with aplomb

Thanks for the memory
Of your pithy comments and witticisms galore
You gave us laughs by the score
You may have been eccentric but you never were a bore
So thank you so much