Stewart Franklin Eayrs, of West Concord, passed away peacefully Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, at the Minneapolis Veterans Home surrounded by family.
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Stewart was born Sept. 18, 1922, to Curtis and Catherine (Schmidt) Eayrs. He grew up in Concord Township, Dodge County, with his parents and siblings, Donald, Doris, Lucille and Willis. He married Ruth Marlene Egger on June 18, 1950. They farmed in Concord Township, Dodge County, where he resided for over 60 years until his declining health and his wife's battle with breast cancer required Stewart's move to the Minneapolis Veterans Home on March 1, 2012. Stewart was a World War II veteran, a Vietnam Veteran, a devoted husband and father, marine engineer, builder and farmer who loved his family and his country.
His surviving family include his sons, Michael (Mary Jo) Eayrs of Green Bay, Wis., Neil (Fran) Eayrs of Carterville, Ill., and Douglas (Sonja) Eayrs of Maple Grove; and his daughters, Martha Eayrs of Two Harbors and Catherine Eayrs of Rochester. Stewart's grandchildren include, Christaan Eayrs, Akami Marik, Matthew (Lindsey) Eayrs, Rebekah (Paul) Cavanagh, Bret Eayrs, Elizabeth Eayrs, Brian (Elizabeth) Eayrs. Kathleen Eayrs and Annemarie Eayrs; great-grandchildren include, Evan Marik, Ashlyn Cook, Evelyn Cavanagh and Mary Eayrs. Stewart is also survived by sisters-in-law, Virginia (Carl) Durst and Donna (Robert) Egger, both of Pine Island; 11 nephews and three nieces.
Stewart was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth; his parents; brothers, Donald (Edith) Eayrs of Olympia, Wash., and Willis (Mimi) Eayrs of Seattle, Wash.; sisters, Doris (Wallace) Thomforde of Zumbrota and Lucille Eayrs who died as a young child; and son, John Eayrs of Minnetonka.
Stewart grew up in Dodge County during the Great Depression and served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCCs) in Goodhue County before World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves and was assigned to the U.S. Merchant Marine in 1942 with training at Santa Catalina Island, Calif. During World War II, he served as an assistant engineer aboard several U.S. Liberty Ships transporting military cargo to all theaters of U.S. military operations including the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and China-Burma-India from 1942 to 1946. Stewart also received a Vietnam service bar serving on a U.S. vessel transporting military cargo to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
Following their marriage, Stewart and Ruth operated a family farm in Dodge County for many years. Stewart also operated a building contractor business for several years, building Quonset sheds in southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and western Wisconsin. In 1956, he returned to his engineering career as an assistant engineer with U.S. shipping companies transporting iron ore, grain and other cargo on the Great Lakes until his retirement in 1981.
Stewart was a lifelong member of Zwingli United Church of Christ (Berne Church) and loved his Swiss heritage. He was a member of the American Maritime Officers Union, the Merchant Marine Veterans Association, the American Legion, the CCC Veterans Association and the Concord Cemetery Association. Stewart will be remembered as a kind and gentle man who traveled the world on ships and loved his family and friends.
A memorial service for Stewart will take place Friday, Aug. 8, at 11 a.m. at the Zwingli United Church of Christ (Berne) in West Concord, with a one hour family visitation preceding the memorial service.
The family will also meet visitors on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Zwingli United Church of Christ (Berne) in West Concord.
Stewart donated his body to the Mayo Clinic for medical research. His remains will be interred at the Concord Cemetery at a later date.
Memorial gifts are preferred to the Zwingli United Church of Christ or the Minneapolis Veterans Home at 5101 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55417-1699.
Published in The Post-Bulletin from Aug. 5 to Aug. 6, 2014