Jerry Lee Stewart, age 76, of Walker, left us for his eternal fishing grounds on Saturday, April 14th, 2018 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born on July 21, 1941 in Ida Grove, IA, the son of Lee and Vera (Lantz) Stewart.
Jerry attended a rural school as a boy and graduated from Ida Grove High School in 1959. During that time fast cars were the object of his affection, especially his 1955 White Chevy. He spent as much time as he could tinkering with cars and anything else that would get him off the farm. In 1960 Jerry followed his parents to Walker, where they bought a fishing business and a couple cottages at the City Dock from the Knapp family. Fishing and especially fishing with a group of paying customers expecting you to find them fish, was a big step for an Iowa farm kid. Jerry met the love of his life in Walker, Bonnie Swendsen, the daughter of Ruby Swendsen of Walker. Together they were united in marriage June 13th, 1964.
Jerry loved to fish and loved to help others catch fish. As the business grew, more property was purchased from the Groth family and more boats were added. Soon, Jerry and his family were running up to eight launches two to three times a day, taking groups of people fishing. They also ran overflow for the “Mail Boat” for Vera Fisher. With 57 years of guiding on Leech Lake, Jerry has had the opportunity to take many notable people fishing. A few of those include many executives from 3M Corporation, Tonka Toys, American Automobile Association, members of the English Parliament, Formula One racers A. J. Foyt, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti and others, Minnesota Governor LeVander, WCCO News, and many-many others. As well as the many customers they accumulated, Jerry and his father started a line-up of young fishing guides of which several are acclaimed Leech Lake guides today. Many can trace their guiding roots to running one of the Chris-Craft Launches. When it was the off season and Jerry was not guiding, he found himself spending countless hours repairing and maintaining the wooden boats. He also worked for Alto Construction, Booker Walstead Plastics, and Orton Oil. As well as the Pine Valley Trophy Case and the Chase Motor Inn which he and Bonnie owned for many years. Jerry also loved to hunt. This would find him spending many seasons in Montana and also here at home in the north woods. His other interests included snowmobiling, snowmobile cross-country racing and ice fishing. Jerry and Bonnie decided Minnesota winters were miserable and decided to move to Florida for the winter months. Once there, Jerry found a love for fishing the shallow salt waters for Redfish, Bonefish, Drum, and heading miles offshore to catch Grouper.
The family that Jerry joins again are his father; Lee Stewart, grandparents; Walter and Esther Stewart and John and Anna Lantz, numerous aunts and uncles.
Those he leaves behind to cherish his memory are his wife of almost 54 years; Bonnie Stewart of Walker, his mother; Vera Stewart, son; Jon (Lara) Stewart of Walker, daughter; Krista (Andy) Struffert of Foreston, five grandchildren; Braden, Carver, Ariana, Brianna, and Lee, aunt; Ruth Benson, Chicago, a favorite cousin; Sharon Cranston of Cincinnati, numerous other relatives, and many friends. He will be sadly missed by all his family, friends and those he touched briefly through the love of fishing.
Jerry’s most famous words before heading back to the dock after a day of fishing were, “JUST ONE MORE DRIFT….”
A Celebration of Life for Jerry will be held from 5 to 7p.m., Friday, April 27, 2018 at the Northern Peace Funeral Home, 114 Tianna Drive, Walker. Pastor Keith Piller will lead a prayer service at 6:30 p.m.
Jerry’s care has been entrusted to the Northern Peace Funeral Home of Walker, MN. Online condolences for the family may be given at www.northernpeace.com