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Sat, 02.07.1925

Bill Stewart, Architect and Administrative Activist born

Bill Stewart

*Bill Stewart was born on this date in 1925. He was a Black architect, administrator, author, activist, and educator. 

William Bill Stewart was the son of Frannie (Blount) and Arthur Stewart, born in Hamtramck, Michigan. He grew up in Detroit and graduated from Cass Technical High School in 1941. He served in the United States Navy from January 1943 - December 1947.  After his military service, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1952 from Ripon College. He earned a BA in Architecture in 1955 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

While a student at MIT, Stewart met Ida Belle Wilcox, a student at Boston University. They married on September 18, 1955. Their union produced four children: Paul, Cecilia, Jacquelynn, and Malcolm. After graduating from MIT and Boston University, the family moved to Minneapolis St. Paul, Minnesota.

From 1955-1969, he was a draftsman and designer in Architecture. However, Stewart changed career paths when the opportunity to become a public servant and community activist. As Executive Director of the newly established Model Cities Program in St. Paul, he worked to stabilize families, communities, and the Model Inner City Community Organization (MICCO) in Washington, DC. Stewart served in that position for two years (1971-73) before returning to the Twin Cities to accept the position of Director of the University of Minnesota Morris Minority Student Program (MSP) in 1973.

He was the Administrator of MSP for 33 years. At UMM, he created a model for recruiting, retaining and graduating nonwhite students in predominantly white universities. Stewart was an educator, influencer, motivator, and supporter of the MSP students. He empowered students with wisdom and pride and expected academic excellence. This support and encouragement produced countless academic and professional MSP success stories. A book entitled ‘Technology and the Dream, Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999’ was published in 2001 to recognize the achievements of distinguished Black MIT Alumni. Though Bill (as he was affectionately known) was always humble, being listed among the honorees in that publication was one of his crowning achievements.

He and his wife developed ‘World Touch Heritage Week’ at the University of Minnesota, Morris. The program celebrates and honors the cultures and contributions of every ethnic group. This annual celebration continues to be a cornerstone program at the university. Stewart was an active Morris community member. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club and Assumption Catholic Church. He enjoyed reading, playing tennis, having endless intellectual and revolutionary conversations with his wife, and spending time with his children and grandchildren. William B. Stewart passed away at West Wind Village on October 18, 2020, at 95.

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