New Martinsville lost one of its favorite sons and the entire state of West Virginia lost a beloved coach Monday when former West Virginia University Head Football Coach Bill Stewart died of an apparent heart attack.
Stewart, 59, was golfing at Stonewall Jackson Resort with former WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and Nick Mavromatis, director of player development at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort in Chester. The golf outing was part of a West Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association conference. Pastilong has said Stewart was in a good mood and gave no indication of feeling ill. But in the middle of telling a coaching story Stewart collapsed and despite earnest efforts by Mavromatis, emergency medical personnel, and staff at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, he was never revived.
In the wake of the terrible news, the overwhelming sentiment is sorrow for Stewart's beloved family-namely his wife Karen and son Blaine. Family was very important to Stewart and he emphasized the need to appreciate and cherish loved ones to his players.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said of the loss, "Bill was a proud West Virginian in every sense of the word, and he was the best cheerleader this state ever had. For me and Gayle, our hearts go out to Bill's wife, Karen, and his son, Blaine. I hope that they know just how much Bill meant to the people of this state and how much we all will miss him."
"My heart aches for his wife, Karen, and their son, Blaine, and we should all keep the Stewart family in our thoughts and prayers," said U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
"Coach Stewart brought a new found pride to the Mountaineer faithful as he led the football team in both competition and character," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. "Joanne and I are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Coach Stewart and offer our sympathies to his family. Together, we ask that Mountaineers everywhere keep the Stewart family in your thoughts and prayers during this sad time."