The receipts of Calvin Stewart’s work for 12 years were the often canary yellow 3-by-3 sticky notes that have blanketed North Hall on residents’ mailboxes.
As Stewart considered himself in the “helping people business,” those tiny sheets of paper could be security blankets for the small town of Clermont.
“Anytime you came home from work and you saw that little sticky note on your mailbox, you knew that he was in the area,” said retired north precinct commander Capt. Brad Rounds. “He was watching out for things and he wanted to keep Clermont and Lula safe.”
On Thursday, Sept. 1, the town of Clermont and Stewart’s law enforcement colleagues had a chance to return the favor.
Sticky notes covered a patrol car outside of the Chattahoochee Center in Clermont as dozens wished Sgt. Stewart a happy retirement.
“You really can’t go to a store or anywhere without somebody asking you about Calvin,” Sgt. Gary Moore said. “He’s famous for his notes. He’d check your house, and when everything looked good, he’d leave a sticky note on your mailbox that said, ‘Calvin on Patrol. Everything good.’”
Linda and Richard Simmons, of Clermont, have been the recipients of Stewart’s notes and told The Times he is a personable man who doesn’t know a stranger.
His baritone drawl delighted fellow listeners on the police radio, as he was a “Southern gentleman through and through” who treated everyone like gold, Moore said.
“I never realized that my little sticky notes would make that much of an impression over the years,” Stewart said.
Decades of service
Before his career with the Sheriff’s Office, Stewart spent more than 31 years with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
His interest was sparked by a DNR ranger pulling up beside him in traffic on his way to work.
Stewart was about to go to line school to become an apprentice lineman when DNR called and asked if he was still interested in being a ranger.
He lived in Round Oak in Jones County, his area of assignment in DNR, before transferring to Hall County in December 1986.
A “mountain man at heart,” Stewart said he always wanted to live in the North Georgia mountains, and the only vacancy available to him at the time was in North Hall.
The genesis of Stewart’s sticky-note philosophy began when he was a ranger, who saw deputies leave their cards at mom-and-pop stores to let the owners know the officer had stopped by after hours.
“I always thought in my mind that was a noble thing to do, let people know at nothing else that their tax dollars were being employed trying to protect their property,” Stewart said. “Give people a sense of security.”
Stewart stayed with DNR until 2005 and took a job with the Sheriff’s Office in 2010.
When Stewart started leaving his sticky notes, people would call in to the Sheriff’s Office to verify if there was really a “Calvin on Patrol” out checking on people’s homes.
“They were very appreciative of him,” Capt. Jason Smith said. “It became where they would call in if he went on vacation or didn’t make it by the house when they thought he should have. They would be calling in and checking on him to make sure he was OK.”
Stewart said he has no idea how many thousands of notes he has written, though Rounds put his estimate in the hundreds of thousands.
At Stewart’s retirement celebration, members of the community were encouraged to leave the sergeant notes of their own.
One note left for Stewart read in part that Stewart “has brought so much joy to me by leaving notes.” The note continues stating that Stewart’s messages made her feel safe and that there was always “excitement to see what you write.”
Stewart has fixed tires or helped with gas for stranded motorists, even pulling a few zero-turn lawnmowers out of ditches with his patrol car.
“I don’t write many tickets,” Stewart said. “A lot of times you can fix things by just a warning, either written or verbal.”
‘I don’t know where all that time has gone’
Stewart turned 70 a few weeks ago. Two days after that was his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Linda.
The two went to high school together. Stewart was a couple years older.
“After I graduated from high school, I started paying attention to that pretty red-haired girl and we started dating,” Stewart said. “One thing led to another, fell in love and asked her to marry me. … That was 50 years ago. I don’t know where all that time has gone.”
When asked how he will spend his retirement, Stewart said he has stuff around the house that he needs to tend to as well as helping to raise a 3-year-old great-granddaughter.
Stewart bought his wife a dozen roses for their anniversary, and the pair saw “Top Gun: Maverick.”
When faced with dozens of his colleagues and neighbors wishing him well, Stewart said he was immensely grateful for their kind words in what he called a “heartwarming experience.”
“It brings it back home for me to see that there’s a lot of folks in the community that still appreciates a hard-working deputy that has their best interest at heart,” Smith said.