James Cordell Stewart, age 91, passed away Wednesday, August 23, 2023. He was born March 19, 1932, in Akron, Ohio. His father, Cordell Hull Stewart, was a Crossville native and his mother, Mary Catherine Harden Stewart, immigrated from England with her family. Throughout his life, Jim was a talented artist, starting with sketches of airplanes as a teenager before advancing to oil painting as an adult. He particularly enjoyed painting French street scenes. Jim was an avid reader and had a large collection of books. He was interested in philosophy, history, and politics, and did some writing of his own, producing several manuscripts on different topics. He loved classical music all his life, attending many operas. In his final years when he wasn’t mobile enough to go, he enjoyed listening to Andre Bocelli.
Jim’s start in life was harsh. He was born during the Great Depression and entered an orphanage at the age of 6 months. Mary Catherine was hospitalized and Jim never had a chance to meet her. His father worked for the CCC project and was a superintendent of the Homestead project in Crossville. Cordell was able to get Homestead property and bring Jim and his two older sisters, Dora and Betty, to Tennessee. Cordell married Margaret Kessler, a physician from Pleasant Hill, and they had Jim’s half-sister, Mary.
Jim grew up on the farm in Crossville and attended Homestead Elementary School, Pleasant Hill Academy, and Baxter Academy. After high school, he attended Tennessee Tech for a short time before joining the Army. While stationed in Hawaii, Jim and one other enlistee were selected to have clerical roles because of their typing abilities and were sent to Germany. He worked as a court clerk and photojournalist for the Army, learning French from a workbook that was lent to him.
After being honorably discharged, Jim enrolled in the Sorbonne in Paris, where he studied French for six months and traveled around Europe. After a year, he returned to the states and enrolled at Baylor University and then UT-Knoxville where he met his future wife, Betty Sue Giles, in French class. They married in December of 1957 and had three children, Carolyn Elizabeth, James Michael, and Susan Renee. Betty became an English teacher for Roane & Anderson County Schools. Jim taught French at Oak Ridge High School before moving to Cookeville, where he and Betty taught at Tennessee Tech before returning to Oak Ridge. Jim was proud of being a college professor and Betty taught English for over 30 years.
As an English teacher at Oliver Spring High School, Betty led multiple group trips to Europe, Australia, and many other places. They had the opportunity to travel the world together for many years. Jim & Betty enjoyed being married for 55 years. They were active members of Central Baptist Church in Oak Ridge.
After Betty passed away in 2013, Jim found a loving companion in Shirley Jorgenson. They enjoyed a few cruises both being residents of Commonwealth Senior Living in Oak Ridge.
Jim was preceded in death by wife, Betty Sue Giles Stewart, son, Michael “Mike” Stewart; and sister, Dora Stewart Blalock. Survivors include sister, Betty Stewart Boldt of San Antonio, TX; half-sister, Mary Stewart Uziel of Oak Ridge; daughters, Carolyn Stewart Evans (Mitchell) of Knoxville and Susan Renee Stewart Kennedy (Thomas) of Kingsport; grandchildren, Mitchell Evans Jr., Lauren Evans Cliburn, Suzanne Evans Robinson, Braden Evans, Stephanie Evans, Elizabeth Kennedy, Emily Kennedy Taylor, Caroline Kennedy, and Sarah Kennedy; great-grandchildren, Hensley and Reagan Evans, Connor, Elsie and Henry Cliburn, Eliana, Emery and Amelia Robinson, Chandler and Lottie Evans and Adalyn and Ella Gray; and companion, Shirley Jorgenson.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Commonwealth Senior Living for the wonderful care they provided.
The family will receive friends from 5 pm to 7 pm on Friday, September 1, 2023, at Weatherford Mortuary. Funeral services will follow at 7 pm with Rev. Mitch Evans officiating. Family & friends will meet at 11 am Saturday, September 2, 2023, at Anderson Memorial Garden for interment & full military honors. Online condolences may be left at weatherfordmortuary.com.