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Stewart, William L. “Bill”

May 22, 2012

Stewart, William L. “Bill”, best known as Coach Stew, was called to a higher position on May 21, 2012. Bill was born in Grafton, W.Va., on June 11, 1952, to the late Blaine Eugene and Roberta Lee Rutherford Stewart.

Those left behind to cherish his memory, while carrying on his legacy, include his loving wife, Karen Kacor Stewart; one son, William Blaine Stewart, at home; one brother, Ted Stewart and his wife Debby of Raleigh, N.C.; his father- and mother-in-law, Ted and Gretchen Kacor; additional in-laws Becky and Gerald Kooser, Debbie and Percy Talkington, John and Mindy Kacor; Gretchen and Rob Fauber, and Tom Kacor; several nieces and nephews; and numerous players that Stew coached through the years.

Bill was a member of the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church and a devoted husband, father, and friend.

After guiding West Virginia University to a remarkable 48-28 victory against Oklahoma in one of the most memorable and significant wins in school history at the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., Stewart was named West Virginia University’s 32nd head football coach on January 3, 2008 a day after that impressive triumph.

He followed up the Oklahoma victory with three consecutive nine-win seasons, including trips to the Meineke Car Care, Gator, and Champs Sports bowls. Stewart’s nine victories in 2008 represented the most ever by a first-year Mountaineer coach, and his 28-12 career mark included a .700 winning percentage that ranks fifth among all WVU grid coaches. His BIG EAST championship in 2010 was the school’s sixth at the time.

Bill coached 31 players to All-BIG EAST accolades in his three seasons, including quarterback Pat White, who became the NCAA’s all-time leading rushing quarterback and the first in college football history to win four straight bowl games as a starting quarterback. Stewart saw 14 of his West Virginia players drafted by NFL teams, and he led two Mountaineer squads to Top 25 finishes in 2008 and 2009, while his 2010 team was ranked for several weeks during the 2010 season.

The New Martinsville native was no stranger to Morgantown, the state of West Virginia, or to the college football world as his coaching experience was vast and varied.

Prior to being named head coach at WVU, Stewart spent eight years on the West Virginia staff under WVU coaches Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez, working with the Mountaineer tight ends, and serving as associate head coach in 2007 after spending the prior seven seasons coaching the quarterbacks. He also had the role of special teams coordinator under Rodriguez. It was Nehlen who brought him back to his home state in 2000 as quarterbacks coach, and Stewart helped guide the squad to a winning season and Music City Bowl victory in Nehlen’s final game.

His lengthy coaching resume began at Fairmont State, where he was a student assistant coach for a season, before becoming an assistant coach at Sistersville High School in 1975. In 1977, he moved to Salem College, where he was assistant football and head track coach for two seasons. In 1979, he moved to the University of North Carolina (1980); he was later an assistant at Marshall (1980), William & Mary (1981-83), Navy (1984), North Carolina (1985-87), Arizona State (1988-89), and Air Force (1990-93). Aside from the 10 bowl games he coached in at West Virginia, Stewart was also a part of bowl squads at North Carolina and Air Force.

In 1994, Stewart became head football coach at VMI for three seasons. His 1995 team was the highest scoring (24.5 ppg.) squad in VMI history, and Keydet running back Thomas Haskins set a I-AA rushing record with 5,349 yards.

Bill came to WVU in January 2000, from the Canadian Football League, where he served as offensive coordinator of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1999, tutoring two all-conference receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. As offensive line coach for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 1998, Stewart’s line blocked for Mike Pringle, the first 2,000-yard rusher in CFL history.

Bill was a 1975 education graduate from Fairmont State where he was a three-year letterman and team captain for the WVIAC champions in 1974. He later earned his master’s degree in health and physical education from WVU in 1977. Before transferring to Fairmont State, Stewart played on the WVU freshman football team under legendary coach Bobby Bowden and was the head coach of the Mountaineers against Florida State in Bowden’s final game in the 2010 Gator Bowl.

Bill was a vastly popular figure nationally and statewide, especially with his players who loved playing for him. He was once quoted as saying, “I’m going to be judged on the wins. I know that. However, what I do with these young men’s lives, I’m being judged by the Master Coach. And that’s why I lay down every night and sleep very well.”

Friends may call at the Morgantown Event Center, Waterfront Place, on Thursday from 2-9 p.m. A private mass will be held for Bill’s close friends, family, coaches, and players at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church at 10 a.m. on Friday with Fathers Rev. Leon Alexander and Rev. Mark G. Ward, CP, VF, as co-celebrants. The funeral procession will be leaving St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church at 2 p.m. for a 4 p.m. honorary salute at the Magnolia High School Football Field. Burial will follow at the Northview Cemetery in New Martinsville. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Bill Stewart Memorial Community Fund, c/o the Greater Morgantown Community Trust, P.O. Box 409, Morgantown, WV 26507. McCulla Funeral Home, 770 Fairmont Road, Morgantown, is in charge of arrangements and online condolences may be sent to the family at www.McCulla.com