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Stew was a friend to everyone

May 23, 2012
EDGAR KELLEY IN?THE?BOX ( , The Inter-Mountain

Many times before you ever meet a person, you hear something about them that gives you an understanding of what kind of character they have.

And more times than not, you just don't see what you've heard. For instance, someone may tell you that this person is a jerk, then when you become acquainted with him, you just don't see it.

But no matter who you ask, there's one person everyone had a place in their heart for - former West Virginia head football coach Bill Stewart, who died of a heart attack while golfing on Monday.

From top to bottom, everyone who met the former mentor agrees that he was one of the nicest and most sincere men they ever met.

I once found this out first hand. Back when Rich Rodriguez was a coaching the Mountaineers and Stewart was an assistant, I saw the coach walking toward me during a break in the action.

I had never met the man, but had heard great things about him from everyone who had spoken of him. When he wandered up beside me and began to chat, I was surprisingly taken off guard.

Never in all my years of attending practices, going all the way back to the Don Nehlen days, had any WVU?coach taken time to stop by and say hello. And even more, see how I was doing.

After a short conversation, which mostly had to do with both of our hometowns, Stewart went back to doing the thing he loved most - coaching football.

Meeting and greeting people is what Stewart did best. He always wanted to know how everyone was doing and was hopeful to befriend anyone he met.

One of my co-workers who covers WVU?football was telling me of an encounter his son had with the coach.

He had taken the youngster to practice with him one day. As soon as the session was over, Stewart spotted the boy and immediately made it a point to come over and introduce himself.

After asking him numerous questions, including if he wanted to play football for West Virginia University, the coach was more than happy to sign an autographed photo.

Stewart was head coach at this time, which got me to thinking, would any other major Division I football coach have taken time out to do what he do for the young lad? My guess would be not many.

Like a true West Virginian, Stewart wore the state's emblem on his sleeve. He always went above and beyond to show the hospitality this state is famous for.

And that's why, despite no longer being West Virginia's head football coach, he was playing golf in the annual West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association's Golf Tournament on Monday.

Leave no doubt that Stewart cared about West Virginia and its flagship football program more than anyone does, or probably ever will.



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