Warren and Maxine Stewart
Warren and Maxine Stewart Made a Perfect Team
Warren Stewart was one of those people who made the world a better place, who brightened someone’s day just by being with them. Maxine, his wife, can say with confidence, “He just was who he was. He wasn’t fake.” Without a doubt, Warren touched many lives through his love for others and his desire to serve. He was also accompanied in his service by his wife of 45 years, Maxine Stewart. Together, the two made a positive impact on countless lives.
Warren Stewart was born to Eugene and Mary Stewart on August 29, 1939 in Salem, Indiana. His father, referred to by many as “Streaker,” worked at the Glass Motor Company, serving the people of Washington County for many years. Mary was a skilled seamstress and loving mother. “His mom taught him such good manners and how to treat a woman,” asserts Maxine Stewart. The family was involved in Blue River Baptist Church, where Warren met and accepted Christ and was baptized. Warren graduated from Salem High School in 1957. He then worked many years as a draftsman at Smith Cabinet Company in Salem. While working at Smith Cabinets, he met his future bride, Maxine Roberts Heathcock.
Maxine was born in 1940 to James and Edith Roberts in Martinsburg, Indiana. She lived in Martinsburg until she was in first grade, at which point she moved to Pekin with her parents. Maxine attended Pekin High School, graduating in 1958. She always enjoyed school and has many fond memories of her years in school. She was also a very hardworking student, graduating fourth in her class. Maxine then began working at the Census Bureau shortly after. Several years later, she would meet Warren, who asked for her hand in marriage. Together, the two began their journey of raising their daughters, Teena and Cindy.
Warren continued working as a draftsman, providing for Maxine and his two young daughters. Maxine also worked for a CPA in Salem when the family moved there. However, the family’s life took a very different direction a few years down the road. Warren made the decision to begin attending Boyce Bible College of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky after feeling called to go into the ministry. Warren had a true heart for sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others. This calling would lead him on a lifelong journey as a minister. While living in New Albany with his family and attending Boyce, Warren spent many years continuing to work at a woodworking company in Louisville while also pastoring. While following God’s calling, he worked tirelessly to provide for his family. Maxine also worked to provide for their children, first at Tube Turns, Inc. in Louisville and then as a church secretary at Wall Street United Methodist Church in Jeffersonville.
Warren’s first pastoring position was with the Laconia Circuit of the United Methodist Church, in which he pastored three churches. Maxine remembers hearing the same sermon three times at three different churches on one Sunday morning. His service with the Laconia Circuit lasted for two years, at which point he was informed that State Street Baptist Church in New Albany was in need of a pastor. The deacons of the church approached him and asked if he would be interested in the position.
Warren served as the pastor of State Street Baptist Church from 1976 to 1984. When he took the position, the church’s attendance had been dwindling for quite some time. However, with his leadership, the church grew significantly for many years. In very little time, the church had grown enough to pay Warren as the full-time pastor, offering enough money for him to support his family without continuing his job in the woodworking industry. During these years, the family’s life centered around the church. Maxine felt privileged to be a part of her husband’s ministry. “My job was to keep him humble,” she asserts. “But he really was an excellent preacher. Everyone that knew him loved him.”
Teena and Cindy loved being involved in the church. “To spend three nights a week at church was normal,” says Teena. She recalls the many Sunday nights that her parents would take her, Cindy, their boyfriends, and friends out for pizza after church. These nights that they spent laughing and talking together are ones Teena and Cindy will never forget.
Warren and Maxine were always very involved parents. Maxine spent many years serving as a Brownie leader and Girl Scout leader when her girls were young. Warren also loved spending time with his daughters. “He was crazy about his girls,” states Maxine. His playful spirit sometimes got him into trouble right along with Teena and Cindy. “Mom always had to be the disciplinarian,” recalls Teena. Warren would play hide and go seek or any other game right along with them, always making them laugh with his irresistible sense of humor. As Teena and Cindy grew older, Warren became the “cool dad” who their boyfriends and friends all liked to hang out with. With his motorcycle in the driveway and his weight equipment in the basement, any teenage boy liked being with Warren. Teena and Cindy also always loved spending time with their mom, often opting to hang out with her than go do something with their friends. The family also enjoyed camping, as well as their annual trip to Florida.
While still at State Street Baptist Church, Teena and Cindy both graduated from New Albany High School. Teena went on to attend Indiana University Southeast, and Cindy attended Franklin College. Looking back, the two feel blessed to have had such loving parents who made their childhood and teenage years everything they could have asked for.
While Teena and Cindy were in college, Warren and Maxine moved on to the next chapter of their life. They got a call from an area minister who thought that they would be a good match for a church in need of a pastor in Bicknell, Indiana. Bicknell First Baptist turned out to be a perfect match for the couple, who ended up staying there for sixteen years. While there, Maxine served alongside her husband as the church’s secretary. Maxine had never simply sat in the background; she was always at her husband’s side, making hospital visits and ministering to the church congregation right alongside her husband. “We were a tag team,” she describes. While there, Warren also served as the president of the Bicknell Ministerial Association and the Union Association of the American Baptist Churches for a period of time. He also served on the Hospice Board, volunteered his time as a mentor at the schools, and got his EMT certification to serve his community as a Christian EMT.
Both Warren and Maxine were also able to use another talent they possessed: music. Shortly after Warren began as the pastor in Bicknell, the music minister resigned from the church. Warren stepped up to fill this position, using his passion and talent for music. Before coming to Bicknell, he had used his talent for many years in other capacities, including playing and singing many years in the South Boston Opry as well as the Thoroughbred Chorus in Louisville in his younger years. He had a beautiful tenor voice, and he could play any string instrument. While in Bicknell, he also organized the Preacher’s Gospel Band, a group of preachers in the area who sang on Sunday nights at churches. Maxine, who had always had a talent for playing the piano, learned to play the organ while living in New Albany. She used this gift to bless their church congregation in Bicknell. She also served as the choir director for many years, a service that she had a tremendous amount of fun doing.
Warren and Maxine remained at Bicknell First Baptist until Warren unexpectedly suffered a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 59. After leaving Bicknell and partially recovering from the heart attack, Warren served as the interim pastor at several churches, including Blue River Baptist Church, where he had grown up. However, five years after the heart attack, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, this disease continued to progress and keep him from being able to do what he loved. At this point, Maxine and Warren moved to Rushville, Indiana to be closer to their daughter Cindy.
As Warren fought this disease, Maxine faithfully and patiently continued to stand by his side, as she had always done. She helped him and loved him every step of the way. For the first several years he had the disease, Maxine says that he was very good at hiding it, so good that the doctor did not believe her when she said she thought he had the disease. Unlike some who suffer from this disease, he always kept his sense of humor and his loving, joyful personality. It was not until five months before his death that the disease had progressed far enough to have to be placed in the nursing home. Thankfully, he did not have to spend very much time away from the ones he loved. Warren passed away on August 10, 2009 at the age of 69.
Since his death, Maxine has continued to live in Rushville. She enjoys spending time with both of her daughters, as well as her six grandchildren. Teena and her husband, Tim Wesley, now live in Prospect, Kentucky and have four children, Brandon, Reid, Taylor, and Kara. Cindy and her husband, Greg Harcourt, live in Rushville with their children Anthony and Brittany.
Out of their love for Warren, the family decided to start a fund with the Washington County Community Foundation shortly after his death. They wanted to honor Warren and the wonderful man he was, the kind of man who always wanted to help others and go beyond the extra mile. They made the decision to start the Warren and Maxine Stewart Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to students studying theology or music. Warren’s family remembers him always encouraging kids to stay in school and go to college to get their education. Because of this and his love for ministering and for music, a scholarship fund seemed like a perfect way to honor Warren. “It would be a good legacy and a good way to use our money to help other people,” stated Maxine. Thanks to their generosity, Warren and Maxine will be remembered and will continue to help students in Washington County for many years to come.