Bishop Stewart ‘valued character over pedigree’
The life of Bishop Dr Carmen Stewart was celebrated at Stadium East in Kingston yesterday, more than four months after her March 8 passing.
The 95-year-old, who was described as matriarch of the local Christian community, was the first woman to serve as custos for the parish of St Andrew from 1992-2010, a post in which she distinguished herself, serving as the island’s first female deputy governor general in 1996.
Yesterday, Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, who read a tribute from Prime Minister Andrew Holness, remembered Stewart as a woman who stamped her mark indelibly on the Jamaican society, recalling that she was “small in stature, but immense in influence”.
“She was an outstanding Jamaican trailblazer and visionary, who dedicated her life in the service of God, to her church, to the people of Jamaica, to wider communities and her wonderful and blessed church community,” Grange noted.
Born on September 3, 1924, Stewart was the second of five children for Robert and Lena Robinson and received her early education at Morris Knibb Preparatory School and attended the Wolmer’s High School for Girls.
She did her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health at the University of Los Angeles in California and became the director of the Bureau of Health Education, retiring after 29 years.
On May, 25 1957, she married Wilbert Stewart, who died in 1966. By then, they had launched a ministry from humble beginnings in a backyard at 11 Windward Road, and Carmen took on the challenge of nurturing that congregation, while bringing up their two children.
Throughout the years after, it is said that her spirit of resilience motivated and resonated in the persons she gave leadership. No matter what the problem was, she was always willing to help, relating to people from all walks of life.
“She valued character over pedigree, cared for the downtrodden and had a keen eye to identify the good in each person and usually found it!” read a section of a souvenir publication prepared for yesterday’s funeral.
Stewart is survived by daughter Dr Carolyn Stewart; son Steven Stewart and his wife, Fiorella; sister Dr Etheline Palmer; grandchildren; and other relatives.