Born: April 19, 1925
Died: January 20, 2014
Orson Stewart “Stew” Myers, Jr., age 88 of Grand Rapids, formerly of Bitely and Newaygo, passed away Monday, January 20, 2014, at the Heather Hills Retirement Village in Grand Rapids. Stew was born on April 19, 1925, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, the only child of Laura (Chapple) and Orson Stewart Myers, Sr. Stew married Ethel Mildred Koster on September 16, 1949, in Grand Rapids and had one son, Gregory Stewart Myers, who is married to Nancy. Laura (Jeremy) and Lisa are his lovely granddaughters. Ethel’s brothers, Fred and Jim, and sister, Dorothy, provided the sibling relationships missing in Stew’s life. Stew attended Fairmount Elementary and Creston High School. Stew was Creston’s first baseman during its undefeated 1943 season. He was not able to follow through on the inquiry from the old Brooklyn Dodgers because of his entry into the United States Navy.
After boot camp at Great Lakes and Diesel school at Chicago’s Navy Pier, he was assigned to the USS Boyle DD 600. A trip to Oran, North Africa, initiated major action at Anzio, an invasion of Southern France and solicitation of shore battery fire from France’s southern coast. Shortly after returning to the U.S. for ship repair, Stew found himself in the Naval Hospital for 70 days. He was then transferred to the Dorthea L. Dix to transport troops and supplies to various Pacific war activity areas (such as Alaska, Guam, Saipan, Philippines and the invasion of Okinawa). The Dix was on its way to Japan when President Truman ordered the atomic bomb drop.
The GI Bill allowed Stew to pursue degrees in Engineering and Education at Grand Rapids Junior College and Michigan State University’s B.S. and M.A. programs. He took additional college classes at Bucknell, Iowa State, Colorado State, and Utah State. His teaching career began at Burton Jr. High where he initiated a joint boys/girls general shop program. He followed that with 29 years at Grand Rapids Junior College. As GRJC faculty President, he was asked to initiate a study relative to the GRJC educational structure, and as a result of the new structure of Divisions, Stew was appointed chair of the newly established Technology Division with two engineering and drafting instructors. At the time of OSM’s retirement, the division was composed of 22 instructors with new curriculums in plastics, electronics, refrigeration, drafting, architecture, auto mechanics, welding, and retraining of displaced workers. During this time, Stew also served as President of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and served on the Michigan Environmental Review Board for Governor Milliken.
After retirement, Governor Blanchard appointed Stew to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, where his impact was felt in the black bear management area, Pere Marquette River watershed development, Great Lakes fishery, and administrative initiative of the “Rails to Trails.” Stew received the title of teacher-lawyer by “following the law instead of the heart” when hearing contested cases.
Stew’s church work began as a youth leader while at GRJC. As a conservationist he insisted that conservation was God’s work. This carried through his professional career as well as after retirement. After retirement he held various elected church positions.
Hunting, fishing, woodworking, and baseball were Stew’s life-long hobbies.
VISITATION : Thursday, January 30, 2014 from 5-8pm at Crandell Funeral Home – Fremont Chapel. MEMORIAL SERVICES : Friday, January 31, 2014 at 11am at the Newaygo Congregational United Church of Christ 432 Quarterline Street Newaygo MI 49337. MEMORIAL CONTRUIBUTIONS: Orson Stewart Myers Technology Scholarship, C/O Grand Rapids Community College Foundation 143 Bostwick Ave NE Grand Rapids MI 49503 OR Michigan United Conservation Clubs P O Box 30235 Lansing MI 48909.