Coach Bill Stewart Honored In ‘Autobiography’
Reading through a sneak peak of “Bill Stewart: In His Own Words” by Susan R. Jones, one can encounter many feelings, perhaps the most being a sense of disbelief. The title doesn’t lie.
A Sept. 22 Bennett Publishing press release states that the book, anticipated to be released on Nov. 5, is filled with reflections of Stewart-reflections of growing up in New Martinsville, faith and family, early coaching stops, returning to West Virginia, the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, and the three years he served as head coach for the Mountaineers. The result is a “narrative that reads like an autobiography of the former coach.”
The book “is pulled from interviews that he gave when he was head coach at WVU,” Jones stated. “(Stewart is) talking about growing up in the Ohio Valley, particularly New Martinsville. He talks about his parents, his brother, meeting (his wife) Karen, going to Fairmont State College, his early experiences at Sistersville as a history teacher and football coach, and going on to his early college coaching . . . There’s a chapter for each one of the years he was the head football coach. It talks about the decisions he made as head football coach.”
When asked why she chose to write about Stewart, Jones mentioned the similarities between her and the coach. “I’m a history teacher from the Valley here. Bill was also a teacher from the Valley. I love football. I’m a big fan of WVU, so I certainly followed our local coach. I consider him a local hero. I followed his career. I saved a few things from the internet, some of the press conferences, especially the post-game press conference after the 2009 Pittsburgh victory. When he passed away, I saved some of the newspaper clippings and stories people shared.
Jones added, “I contacted Karen about it later that summer of 2012. I told her I had some of these things, and I asked her if I had anything she might be interested in. She said she’d be happy to have anything I was willing to share. I put together a memory book for the family, and I went after a lot of additional things-news items and such. It just kind of took off from there. I was able to give that to the family in September 2012, and I started working on this book in early 2013, just to see if I could do it with what I had, if it would be possible to put something like this together. After I completed the first three chapters, I sent it to Karen, and I asked her if anyone was writing a book about Bill, then I asked her ‘What do you think of what I have done here?'”
Jones stated that Karen was supportive of what she had done thus far, and encouraging all along the way. “I kept sending her every chapter, as I went. It came to a point where she read it from cover to cover once it was finished and gave her blessing on it then and contributed the photos, and that’s where we are at.”
Jones describes the book as “an autobiography” Stewart left behind. She humbly states that the book might not have been the autobiography Stewart would have written had he had the opportunity, yet it’s still kind of a “one-stop shop of Coach Stewart stories and quotes, a narrative of his life and his coaching career.” Jones states that both Karen and Blaine, the Stewarts’ son, have read the book and seem “pretty pleased with it.” Jones adds that John Antonik, WVU director of digital media, contributed what is written on the inside flap of the book. She states that Tony Caridi, longtime play-by-play radio announcer for Mountaineer Sports Network, wrote the foreword for the book. He also submitted the eulogy he had written for and delivered at Coach Stew’s funeral; it provides a nice addition to the book.
When not writing, Jones is a history teacher at John Marshall High School, where she has been for 12 years. Jones says she never had the opportunity to meet Stewart and did not know Karen beforehand either. “I reached out to her out of the blue. Throughout the summer, as we’ve really gotten the book together, she’s worked very closely with me,” Jones notes. “It’s a wonderful friendship that’s developed.”
Anyone interested in purchasing Jones’ book is encouraged to check out her website at www.susanjonesonline.com or call Bennett Publishing at 304-312-6475. The book is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle format. To guarantee delivery before Christmas, it is encouraged that copies are pre-ordered before Oct. 1.