The Rev. Scott Hearn remembered his “seersucker brother,” Jon Douglas Stewart, as a leader, mentor and “one of the sharpest dressers in town.”
Stewart, a senior litigator and partner with Stewart, Melvin & Frost, died Friday, May 10, after an extended illness. He was 80.
“He was just a great man,” said Hearn, pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church. “He was a leader in this community and at Gainesville First. I mean, he probably served in every leadership role in the church and he was a much sought-after Sunday school teacher.”
Every now and then, the two would coordinate outfits and wear seersucker suits with white buck shoes and a bow tie.
“When you visited with him, you’d never know,” Hearn said of Stewart’s illness. “Even there toward the end, I’d walk in and he’d say, ‘You’re looking sharp today.’”
Stewart had been looking sharp at his Gainesville-based law firm since 1968, too. He worked on trials involving “a wide range of commercial contract disputes, trust and estate actions, high-asset will contests, banking and financial controversies, construction cases and domestic relations cases,” according to the firm’s website.
He was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1962 and practiced in state and federal courts throughout Georgia ever since. He served as president of the State Bar of Georgia from 1981 to 1982.
He also was a part of the board of trustees of the Georgia Bar Foundation, where he served as president and vice president, from 1983 to 1993.
In 1992, Stewart was given the state bar’s highest accolade, the Distinguished Service Award. Last year, he received the Chief Justice Thomas O. Marshall Professionalism Award.
“The thing about Doug is he really invested in the next generation,” Hearn said. “There are untold numbers of lawyers that he has mentored and coached and invested in and raised up.”
Apart from his success in law, Stewart was instrumental in the success of the Georgia Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program and served on Hall-Dawson’s advisory committee.
“Doug Stewart was a fine and honorable man,” said Connie Stephens, former executive director with Hall-Dawson CASA. “Doug was a great citizen who gave back to the community. His legacy and generosity has impacted countless lives. He will never be forgotten.”
Locally, he was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville. He was active in local theater and musical productions in the area and sang in the choir at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, too.
“There’s folks in the church he poured himself into and new leaders that he helped find their voice and gain confidence in themselves to be who God created them to be,” Hearn said.
Stewart was born in Chicopee, Georgia, attended Gainesville High School and went on to graduate from Emory University’s law school in 1962.
“He was always interested in other folks and making them feel special and important, so he’ll be very much missed,” Hearn said. “It was always good to see him when he would come to church … You always left feeling better after being with Doug.”
A “Celebration of Life Service” will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, at Gainesville First United Methodist Church.