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Record crowd said farewell to Stewart

June 1, 2012

MORGANTOWN- If numbers are indicative of one's popularity, Bill Stewart clearly was a record-setter.

People poured in from throughout West Virginia, along with others from outside the state, to pay their respects for the former West Virginia head football coach, who died unexpectedly last week.

Dan Watts, general manager of the Waterfront Place Hotel, said between 2,200 and 2,300 attended visitations last Thursday from 2 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at the Morgantown Event Center inside the huge hotel complex.

"That was the best estimate based on the number of vehicles that came in and out of our garages," Watts said. "I'd say without question, for that type of occasion, that was the largest turnout ever here."

The number exceeded that of the attendance of people paying respects for Mike Puskar's visitations several months ago in that facility.

Puskar was co-founder of Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and was a staunch financial supporter of the university and Mountaineer athletics.

Watts said not only Karen Stewart and son Blaine stood greeting visitors for eight hours but Ted Stewart, Bill's older brother and his wife did the same.

According to reports, more then 700 people attended the funeral mass for Stewart on Friday at St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church.

WVU reportedly provided lunch for all of the people in attendance.

An estimated 1,000 people participated in a farewell salute to Coach Stewart later in the day at a gathering on the football field of Magnolia High School in New Martinsville, his birth place.

Stewart, who was only 59 years old, had collapsed on the golf course at Stonewall Resort on Monday, May 22. He died of an apparent heart attack.

Ed Pastilong, WVU's retired athletic director, and others were playing in a benefit golf tournament.

It seems unfortunate that WVU has to construct a new baseball park to compete in the Big 12.

Granted, that conference has better weather-favorable for longer seasons-than the Mountaineers have for baseball here. So the other schools are bound to be better suited for baseball than WVU.

But Hawley Field has served West Virginia fairly well for games.

Despite its lack of locker rooms and other facilities, baseball people say the playing surface is one of the best around these parts.

Is updating, for which the departing head coach Greg Van Zant had been asking for several years, not really a possibility?



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