Paul Matthew Stewart, Jr. was born March 28, 1958 in Stamford, Connecticut. He was the oldest of two children born to the union of Paul Matthew Stewart, Sr. of Waynesboro, VA and Cammie Allen Stewart of Hampden-Sydney, VA. Paul’s brother Allan and his parents preceded him in death.
Paul’s parents moved from Stamford, CT to Cambridge, MA when he was a young child. Paul accepted Christ at Western Avenue Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA. He attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL where he graduated with a B.S. in Economics. Paul’s commitment to service was evident in his college years. He was an upward bound counselor who assisted other freshman with acclimating into the routine of college life.
Paul loved life. This love was equaled only by his drive to share his talents in service to better the lives of others. This thread of accountability flowed through all phases of his life. His increasing levels of responsibility within the medical field and his work as an Independent Mortgage Loan Officer reflected a deep awareness of, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
Paul married Hilary Lee on September 10, 1994 and this union provided an added dimension of joy to the lives of both. Each found in the other the balance between naked ambition and honor that defines the meaning of, “To have your partner’s back”.
Paul was always one to maximize the opportunities he saw. From the events of Moton High School and its impact on his relatives to Obama’s acceptance speech in Grant Park (he worked the polls that day), Paul intimately understood that these events reflected opportunities that would not last forever and should not be squandered. He worked to make sure that as many people as possible benefitted from them.
Paul was a key component in several initiatives that empowered families to transfer wealth from one generation to the next. These initiatives included: NHS-Home Ownership Preservation Initiative and the University of Illinois Fundamentals of Urban Real Estate Program. He was a guiding force in crafting the City of Detroit Community Reinvestment Project. These efforts resulted in an offer to lead the Detroit Branch of Norwest Mortgage, the pre-curser to the mortgage arm of Wells Fargo. Paul considered his crowning career achievement providing the financing for the McQueen Court project, a multi-million-dollar subdivision of 6 luxury homes located on the near south side of Chicago. This project stands as a testament to forthcoming generations of what can be done, “by people who look like you and me”.
Paul was a citizen of the world. People would ask him for directions in languages he couldn’t speak. People intuitively knew they were safe around him. Whether it was watching Miles at Montreux, Jazz in Rio or just a great weekend in NYC, Paul had that, “Uptown/Downtown” vibe and was always happiest around live music and good conversation. As a college DJ with his show on WNUR, he could speak for hours on the topic, “Which was the better concert? Funkadelic at Soldier Field or Freddie Hubbard at Pick-Staiger Auditorium??”
Paul transitioned on May 30, 2022. Joseph Lowery said it best, “…Lord of our weary years, Lord of our silent tears…” Many will feel the sting of Paul’s absence. None more keenly than his wife Hilary, Mother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law, JoAnn Lee and Denise Lee, Dank Combs of Boston MA, Gretna Turner and Sons of MD, Herman and Martha Allen of SC, Diann Bishop and Carolyn Jackson of IL and Pamela Easley of MI. He leaves behind aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends too numerous to detail as a testament to his ability to impact lives in a positive way. He also leaves behind unknown individuals that he reached out to help because he perceived a need he could fill.
Paul’s impact on this world lives on in the lives he touched. Wealth will be passed down because of his efforts. Dreams will be realized because of his examples. Goals will be attained because people watched him enjoy his successes and manage his challenges. He has contributed immeasurably to the “river of life” and the seeds he has sown will bear sweet fruit for generations to come.