Peter Pauls Stewart
1920 - 2018
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STEWART, Peter Pauls Peter Pauls Stewart, 97, passed peacefully at his longtime home in Dallas surrounded by his family and friends on January 10. He joins in heaven his beloved wife Betty May Exall Stewart (who died in 2009), his brother Waldo Ewing Stewart (2003), step-brother Homer "Pete" Lewis, his mother Myrtle Marie Pauls Stewart (1923), and his father Harry Ewing Stewart (1961). Some knew Peter best as the force behind The Thanks-Giving Foundation and Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas. Others knew him from his business interests in distribution, auto transport, and real estate (including the 160 acres overlooking Lake Grapevine in Flower Mound, now the site of the mixed-use community Lakeside DFW). Born in Kansas City, MO, in May 1920, Peter lost his mother weeks prior to his third birthday. He and older brother Waldo, born in 1915, went to live with their paternal grandparents, William Patterson and Jessie Ewing Stewart, while their father Harry pursued burgeoning business interests in Houston and then Dallas. Their grandfather's interest in Eastern religions expanded the boys' horizons, and they excelled in school. Both attended Culver Military Academy and both fulfilled their grandfather's fondest aspiration that they graduate from Harvard University. During summers, Peter and Waldo would come to stay with their father, who had moved to Dallas in the late thirties. Harry Stewart purchased the Stoneleigh Hotel and remodeled the top two floors into his penthouse residence. One summer while still in high school, Peter met Betty May Exall. He courted her over three years, ignoring her other suitors, even transferring from Harvard to the University of Texas for his sophomore year to show his devotion. They were married on July 18, 1942, in the Exall family home at 4808 Lakeside Drive. Peter served in the US Army in Europe as a transportation officer. For several weeks at the end of World War II, he commanded the first trains (including supplies and refugees) to enter Berlin through the newly-created Soviet zone. He concluded his service as a captain late in 1945. For several years in the forties, he moved his young family of four to Mexico City to head up the Mexican operations of his father's company. Returning to Dallas in 1949, business and family life would occupy much of Peter's time through the fifties. His business interests included The Stewart Company (exclusive wholesale distributor of Ford tractors and appliances from Zenith, Amana, and KitchenAid), Auto Convoy (Ford auto transport), and his ultimate love, real estate investing. In 1954, The Stewart Company located its offices and warehouse on Royal Lane along the newly constructed Central Expressway. Influenced by the murals of Mexico City, brothers Waldo and Peter sought out Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias to create a 12' x 57' mural to distinguish their building. When the Stewart family sold the site in the early nineties, the glass-tile mosaic, entitled Genesis, The Gift of Life, was donated to the Dallas Museum of Art, where it now sits at the museum's entrance. Peter joined the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) in the late fifties, blessing him with many special friends (including Sir John Templeton, who Peter learned later shared his passion for gratitude). As a member of the Dallas Plan Commission in the early sixties, Peter grew increasingly interested in discussions about downtown parks. And as an early member of Mayor Erik Johnson's Goals for Dallas, he grew to believe that parks could play an important role as the city sought to create a more sophisticated city center. On a fishing trip to Arkansas in 1962, an unusual idea for a downtown park came to him a park dedicated to gratitude and thanksgiving. Ideas for this "thanksgiving park" came so quickly that he always carried note cards and felt-tip pens in his breast pocket to record them. In 1964 he recruited Joe Neuhoff, Julius Schepps, and John Stemmons to join with him to found the Thanks-Giving Foundation. The foundation purchased a triangular-shaped site at the center of downtown in 1968. New York architect Philip Johnson was selected to design the chapel and square, which was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. Peter collaborated closely with the architect as well as with the artists and artisans who designed the bells, the chapel's unique stained glass, and the etched glass atop the chapel entrance. President Gerald Ford visited Thanks-Giving Square and called it a "major national shrine." Meanwhile, Dallas was booming and Peter pursued interests in real estate with help from his talented brother-in-law Henry Exall, who was chairman of the North Dallas Chamber's streets and highway committee. Teaming with planner Marvin Springer, engineer Roy Wilshire, and broker Gifford Touchstone, he influenced road work to unlock the potential of properties. The projects included championing the first stretch of Dallas Parkway north of LBJ, extending Royal Lane from Central to Greenville, gaining northbound tollway access for Plano Parkway, and realigning FM 2499 north of DFW Airport. A dove hunt in 1973 led Peter to his dearest real estate investment on lakefront acreage just northwest of the Grapevine Lake dam in Flower Mound, then a town of about 2,000. He began assembling acreage that same year, believing the site overlooking the lake just three miles north of the airport to have a "world potential." By the time the final piece was purchased in 1985 bringing his total to 160 acres Peter began to think a high-rise building might one day overlook the lake. Few shared his vision (and few thought he was crazy); the population in the area remained sparse. When a flood in 1981 overwhelmed the spillway and dam road, Peter began to generate interest from governing agencies and landowners in a new route proposed to him by Roy Wilshire and Marvin Springer. He promoted the idea of a thoroughfare stretching one day from DFW Airport to Denton between I-35 W and I-35 E. The key to the success of FM 2499, he believed, depended on its connection with SH 121. Peter worked persistently his calling card to persuade highway authorities that a two-lane fly-over was required for this brand new road. While single-lane flyovers connected far larger, more important thoroughfares (e.g., LBJ to Central, Tollway to I-35), Peter's trademark persistence wore the authorities down. The two-lane flyover was completed, along with the first segment of FM 2499 (including a lengthy six-lane stretch), in 1994. The new road helped fuel a building boom that saw Flower Mound explode from 15,527 residents in 1990 to over 50,000 by 2000. Today FM 2499 carries over 60,000 cars per day, a total likely to increase since the final connection to I-35 E just south of Denton was completed in December 2017. The eighties saw Peter continue his efforts to spread the thanksgiving message through local, state, national, and international research, seminars and outreach. He collaborated closely with Ambassador Anne Armstrong whose relationship with President Ronald Reagan helped promote several initiatives, including the revival of the National Day of Prayer, which Congress confirmed in 1988. The Foundation has continued the tradition ever since in Dallas by celebrating prayer and gratitude in all faiths on the first Thursday in May. Thanks-Giving Square's Interfaith Council, which brings representativeness from 26 faith denominations together 10 times a year, plays a leading role in the National Day of Prayer, the Festival of Faiths, and discussions of interfaith issues. In 1985, Peter saw an opportunity in Norman Rockwell's 1961 painting entitled Golden Rule that was inspired by the humanitarian efforts of the United Nations. Rockwell had said he saw the Golden Rule as the common denominator in all world religions. So Peter led an effort to create a mosaic of the work to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the United Nations. Nancy Reagan presented the gift to the United Nations on behalf of the United States (private gifts to the UN are prohibited). In the nineties, a twin mosaic was created for Thanks-Giving Square. The 45' x 40' mosaic at the U.N. was restored and, in a rare gesture, rededicated in 2014. Peter and a Dallas contingent were honored guests at the ceremony. The work hangs prominently at one end of the third floor of the Conference Building in the UN Headquarters complex. The then-deputy secretary general of the UN called it "iconic" and noted that it is the most visited art piece in the UN. He also remarked that the mosaic represents what "we hope to be." Meanwhile, Peter sought out the best minds for their perspectives on gratitude. Visitors to Thanks-Giving Square included the Dalai Lama, Francis Cardinal Arinze, the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, plus eminent Jewish scholars and Islamic leaders. In recognition of his work on behalf of world thanksgiving, Pope John Paul II invited Peter to attend the historic 1986 interfaith summit in Assisi, Italy. Working with Assistant Secretary-General Robert Muller, Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury of Bangladesh, and President Carlos Menem of Argentina, Peter played a crucial role in the UN's adopting the year 2000 as the "Year of World Thanksgiving." In 2012, Peter and the Thanks-Giving Foundation received the Spirit of the United Nations Award for Youth Outreach. In 2017, construction began in Flower Mound on The Lakeside Tower, a 15-story condominium building overlooking Grapevine Lake. It is scheduled for completion in September. Our family thanks Tatiana Androsov, who worked with Peter until his dying day to keep him inspired and connected to his network, Kathy Kurtin Stewart for her wise financial stewardship over many years, and our brother, Alan Stewart, who adroitly handled Peter's medical care in his last few weeks. During his final years, Peter was gently and lovingly attended to by Maria (Lupe) Galvez, Audelia Villa, Gloria Martinez, Rosalba Vazquez, Gloria Venavides, and Maria Amaro. These dedicated women showered Peter with affectionate care; we are eternally grateful. Peter is survived by his five children: Elizabeth S. Wally, Peter B. Stewart (Jacqueline), Alan G. Stewart (Kathy), Cathy S. Moore (Jess), and David E. Stewart (Katherine); 14 grandchildren: Jody Wally (Anjie), Catherine LaBelle, Nicole Schlesinger (Anton), Colin Stewart (Monica), John Stewart (Miriam), Sasha Stewart (Nate), Zachary Stewart, Vanessa Stewart (Karthik), Michelle Branch, Randi Hart (Darin), Beth Songer (Matt), Daniel Stewart, Sarah Stewart, and Ian Stewart; 14 great-grandchildren: Joseph Wally V, Alexandra Wally, Isabella LaBelle, Serena Schlesinger, Ava Karthik, Tara Karthik, Bryce Branch, Abbie Branch, Blake Rogers, Lauren Haussong (Brett), Luke Spoor, Cate Songer, Madi Songer, and Ben Songer; and one great-great-grandchild: Hayden Branch. A visitation will be held from 6 to 8 pm on Monday, January 15, at Sparkman-Hillcrest. Funeral services will take place at 11am on Tuesday, January 16, at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, where Peter was a member since 1953. Donations may be made to the charity of your choice or to The Thanks-Giving Foundation.

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Published in Dallas Morning News from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14, 2018.
06:00 - 08:00 PM
Funeral service
11:00 AM
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
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Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
January 17, 2018
Mr. Stewart's legacy, Thanksgiving Square, is, to this day, and possibly for many years to come, not only the most prominent, but one of the few monuments to ecumenical understanding in a world of incipient tribalism. So here's to that, since absent Mr. Stewart, there would be little else, this side of the UN Secretariat, to mark that sentiment. Our thanks to you.
Chip Northrup
January 16, 2018
Anna and I are new friends of Peter Pauls Stewart and most regretful
that we did not get to know him and his friends more intimately as legends
are few and far between.
Commander Nicholas D. Ricco and
Anna G. Ricco
January 16, 2018
I remember Mr. Stewart as such a kind and beautifully brilliant gentle man. He was truly so visionary, and it was always so amazing to me to be at the Stewart dinner table where we were asked to come with a "topic for discussion". Such a rich and nourishing time in EVERY way. Love to Cathy (my friend!) and all the family. It is evident that his humility and immense gratitude lives on in all the family and for generations known and unknown.
Trish Payne Parrish
January 15, 2018
My sympathy and condolences in the loss of Peter Stewart: Giant benefactor of the community in so many ways, but especially in the development of Thanksgiving Square; respected businessman and friend with a friendship that was forged over the years in working with him in planning for Thanksgiving Square.

I will miss him, but remember him, will admire, and appreciate him.

George R. Schrader
Former Dallas City Manager
January 14, 2018
It is with great sadness that Mary and I heard the sad news of our good friend Peter Stewart and send our condolences and good wishes to the family.

I first met Peter and Betty May at a Thanksgiving Breakfast at the Vancouver Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1983. In 1986 we traveled together to World Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi.

We have made several visits to the beautiful Chapel and Center in Dallas and participated in some of the programes.

We have also been privileged to visit Peter and Betty May at their home and to welcome them to our home in England. We are glad that when we were in Dallas in 2015, my sister Angela Galloway took us to see Peter in his home. We enjoyed an hour sharing memories of the times we had been together.
We are grateful to Peter for his friendship, for deepening our awareness of the importance of Thanksgiving (Eucharist) in our Christian tradition and that that thanksgiving unites people of all faiths.

The General Thanksgiving in Book of Common Prayer teaches us to show our thanksgiving 'not only with our lips, but with our lives.' May Peter's example inspire us to show his spirit of thanksgiving in our own lives.

I also send messages of sympathy on behalf of the World Congress of Faiths

Marcus Braybrooke (Revd Dr)
President of the World Congress of Faiths
Marcus Braybrooke
January 14, 2018
A national treasure has passed away, but Peter's legacy will live on. It has been such a privilege to know him through volunteer association with Thanks-Giving Square over many years, and in recent years serving on the Interfaith Council.

Condolences to all of Peter's family, friends, and community colleagues. I will miss him, remembering him fondly and with gratitude.
Linda Abramson Evans
January 13, 2018
The faith groups of DFW will all deeply miss Peter Stewart and the institutions that he created and nourished in his life. The World Center for ThanksGiving is very close to our hearts. The Sikh community remains associated with the Center. It has benefited from it during its association with the Center through its representative serving at the Interfaith Council since 1982. The Sikh citizens of DFW are gratified of its connecting with Peter and honoring him in 2017 at their place of worship, the Gurdwara Sikh Temple of North Texas. We will miss his wisdom.
Harbans Lal
January 13, 2018
Sincere condolences on Peter's passing.

Peter was a true Dallas Leader with a
vision that helped to leave so many
things of lasting value for future generations.

His development of Thanksgiving Square in Downtown Dallas and using it as a tool to have United States Presidents restore the National Day of Prayer may be his biggest accomplishment.

His Obituary tells so much of his life story, but fails to mention that Peter received Dallas highest Honor, the Linz Award, as well as the Oak Cliff Lions Club Humanitarian Award.

Peter was a man for all seasons and will be missed!

May God Bless Peter and the Family.
Bill Melton
January 12, 2018
Dear Uncle Peter with his bowties, will be greatly missed. By marrying into the Stewart family on Waldo's side, I was truly blessed to have been part of Peter's life and his family & his precious wife. He was always so interested in what was going on in me and my family's life when with him. As a young couple and family, we were blessed to spend many Sunday mornings sitting with him at his beloved St.Micheal's Church, helping to shepherd us along there. He was a wealth of interesting, delightful stories. It was always enjoyable & inspiring to hear of what all he was doing and about his family of which he was so proud of and the joy of his life. He was a special man of that Greatest Generation that served our Country so well and like I said, will be missed and leaves a lasting and illustrious legagy thru his family, gratitude and accomplishments. My deepest condolences to his immediate family and beyond. May he enjoy his time of peace with those who have gone before him and his Maker, who he so devotedly worshiped. With mush love, Amie Langguth Stewart, Denny Stewart's Widow.
Amie Stewart
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