Generation 5 of The Generations of Texas, Jeff Stewart (Thomas Jefferson Stewart, Jr.) was a member of “The Greatest Generation,” born in 1921, the oldest son of a sharecropper family in West Texas. He grew up doing the hard work of farming in The Depression, but was determined to get an education beyond the part-time, rural schoolhouses of the time. He earned academic and football scholarships to Texas Wesleyan College just in time for the attack on Pearl Harbor, interrupting college to join the US Navy. He earned his pilot’s wings and spent most of the war as a flight instructor stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas.
He met his future wife, Dottie (Dorothy Elizabeth Vickers) during the war and they married in 1944. Following his discharge from the Navy, Jeff went to work in the auto industry in Brownsville, Texas. In 1956, he joined John Hancock Life Insurance Company, where he remained for the rest of his career, retiring in 1983 as a Vice President. Over their 56-year marriage, Jeff and Dottie raised two children, Wayne and Vicki, who are Generation Six in The Generations of Texas saga.
Jeff was a newspaper columnist during his retirement, writing “Yesteryear,” his weekly column in the Hood County newspaper. A respected documenter of Depression-era West Texas, a way of life that had disappeared, he also introduced his readers to Generation Two, with the recount of Captain Francis Asbury Vaughan’s Civil War experiences, left to us in his diary of that period.
Son of a West Texas sharecropper, Jeff was the first Stewart to go to college, become a pilot, work professionally, and rise to the executive ranks in a large U.S. corporation. In 2003, Yesteryear was published, a collection of his columns documenting the West Texas farming life. Filled with wit, folksy humor, and the vernacular of the times, it’s a window into the struggles and successes of a “salt of the earth” bedrock family.
Generation 6 of The Generations of Texas, Wayne Stewart (Jeffrey Wayne Stewart) is a baby boomer who followed his Dad’s footsteps to become a professional, manager, and executive in major technology industries. A native Texan, he graduated from The University of Texas and joined Texas Instruments, where he worked for 21 years leading large operations in Defense and Information Technology businesses.
Wayne and his wife, Dottie, met while at UT, marrying in 1973, and they have spent their entire 43 (so far) year marriage in Texas (except for a 5 year frigid sojourn in Minnesota). Generation Seven includes Brad Stewart and Christie Stewart Turner, who have contributed 5 members of Generation Eight of The Generations of Texas.
Wayne went on to be a senior executive with several high tech companies, then launching his own entrepreneurial ventures, retiring in 2013 to become rancher, writer, and mentor to the next generation. He responded to his Dad’s challenge, writing a commentary on his generation, Yesteryear, The Next Generation.
Looking forward, Wayne has several projects in the works, an untitled business book based on his 40+ years in industry, Passing The Torch, a faith-based book on the challenges of generational transitions, and The Vaughans of Texas, a family history ranging from the 1830s, through the Texas war of independence, The Civil War, and the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Finally, there are future generations of Texans, preparing to follow the challenges laid down by Jeff and Wayne to document their own generations.