RIP JACK STEWART
August 7, 2014, Jack Stewart passed away after being in the hospital for some time with heart problems. His passing comes as a shock to many who had the privilege to meet this fine man who loved life…
In early April 2014 I heard Jack had been hospitalized with heart failure, but according to his wife Sally he was already doing better, and Jack was getting stronger again. In May that year Jack and Sally went up to the Santa Maria Show where Jack had been inducted into the hall of fame in 2012. Jack felt good and was really looking forward to that show. But the long trip, and long hours spend at the show turned out to be just too much for his body. When they returned home after the show Jack was exhausted, and his heart problems got worse again. Eventually Jack was hospitalized again, he underwent surgery, but he just never got back on his feet. Several month of tube feeding, pneumonia and heart problems had taken away all his energy.
On August 7, 2014 Jack passed away. I heard about his passing the next day and was deeply saddened by the news.
Jack Stewart May 9, 1928 – August 7, 2014
Jack Stewart was best known as an all-around nice guy. Often he was called “mr 32” because of the ’32 Ford Roadster he has owned since the early 1970’s, but perhaps more because he was selling ’32 Ford parts at swap meets for many years. If you needed ’32 Ford parts, Jack was the place to get them from. We also know Jack because of the ’41 Ford business coupe he owned in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s. A trend-setting custom built by Jack and his friend Kenny, and later redone by the Ayala brothers and finished by George Barris. This car was later sold to Jim Street in Ohio and eventually ended up with Bob Drake of Indiana who restored it and kept the name Jack Stewart Ford alive. Jack also had several other customized and Hot Rodded cars, but not as well known as his ’32 Ford and ’41 Ford.
One of the best known photos of Jack Stewart and his 1941 Ford at the 1951 Hot Rod and Motor Sport Show in Los Angeles.
In 1971 Jack became a member of the LA Roadster’s club, and became a very dedicated member collecting all the LA Roadster’s memorabilia which resulted in an amazing private LA Roadster Show museum. Together with his friend Neal East they traveled the US to capture the car shows and write many magazine articles together.
In 1990 Jack retired from his job at Union Pacific Railroad where he had worked for decades. After his retirement Jack really lived the life he wanted. He enjoyed every minute of it, started collecting pin-stripe panels, promoting pin-striping, and spend as much time at the car shows as possible. In 2001 Jack created the LA Roadsters A Retrospective book together with Dick Wells.
Jack Stewart and his partner/friend Sally Bollen had lived together for many years after Jack’s first wife had passed away. In early 2013 Jack and Sally decided they wanted to grow old together, being husband and wife. So they decided to get married. Jack enjoyed living life to the max, and his marriage with Sally fitted this way of living perfectly. Jack and Sally’s marriage, both being in their 80’s, made a lot of people happy.
Jack and his customized MG in its first version.
Jack with his ’32 Ford resto-rod in the early 1970’s.
Photo collage of Jack’s ’32 Ford that’s displayed in Jack’s office.
“Mr 32” on the right, at his “booth” at one of the many swap meets he attended selling mostly ’32 Ford parts.
In 2012 Jack was inducted in the West Coats Kustoms Hall of Fame for his efforts promoting the custom car hobby for all these years.
Jack became very special to me in the last years of his life. We met for the first time in 2010, when Palle Johansen and I went on our ‘Jack Stewart Ford Research Trip’. A trip to find out about the history of the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford built by the Ayala’s and George Barris in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. One of destinations was Jack’s place where we would talk to the original owner of the car, listen to his stories and see his memorabilia he kept from the car. Craig Wise, a close friend of Jack, had set up a meeting between Jack and us. Craig was our internet contact between far away Europe and Jack in California.
Jack Stewart and me looking at the many photos Jack had put aside for us to look at on our Jack Stewart Ford Research trip. It was amazing to see Jack being able to remember so many little details from so long ago.
We spend quite some time with Jack. He was extremely helpful and friendly when we visited him. We really had the feeling we had found a new friend. When Palle and me returned home we decided to create a book about the Jack Stewart Ford and of course also about Jack. We told Jack about the idea and he absolutely loved it. Jack and I spend several long phone calls discussing the books. He explaining more about the car and told many more stories about the great times he had with it. A few months after that trip I was at the 2011 GNRS where I met Jack again. I had a great time with him, listening to all his wonderful stories, old and new. During the time I created the Jack Stewart Ford book, Jack and I talked a lot. Sometimes with the help of Craig Wise, who had become a great friend as well. Jack was doing all he could to help both Palle and me, while working on the book as well as the restoration of the car. We heard from people, close to Jack, that he really loved the fact that his old Custom ’41 Ford was going to be restored, and that a book was created about his old car with all his stories in it.
Jack spend quite some time sitting in his old Custom at the 2013 GNRS, at times you could see him going back in time, reliving the many adventures he had with his ‘1941 Ford.
This is how the partly restored ’41 Ford was displayed at the 2013 GNRS. Palle Johansen from Denmark had restored the car to its bare metal form. The original plan was to show it in white primer, but when the bare metal body looked so good this was changed. Most of the other restoration work had been semi finished before the car was shipped from Denmark to the US.
All this time both Palle and me knew we were on a tight schedule with the book as well with the restoration of the car. Jack was not getting any younger. If we would take it easy on the projects, it might just be too late. The original plan was to restore the car back to the white primer version, the way Jack had it for quite a while. But with the bare metal of the car being is relatively good shape and the fact that we were on a deadline Palle decided to not wait any longer and have the car ready for the 2013 GNRS in bare metal. At least this way Jack would be able to see his old car again and it would show the great craftsmanship of the Ayala and Barris craftsman… a win-win situation. At the 2013 GNRS Jack was reunited with his old ’41 Ford again and we showed him the finished book about his old car. A book that has a lot of his personal stories. Jack had assured us he would spend the whole GNRS weekend with us, if his body allowed it. That way he could enjoy the car, the book and all of us as much as possible. Jack did stay there as long as he could. We all had a fantastic time. Bob Drake, who had restored Jack’s Ford in the mid 1950’s and early 1970’s was also at the show. It was the first time Jack and Bob actually met each other. Together they spend lots of memories that weekend at the GNRS show.
Thank you for the wonderful memories and friendship… Good bye my friend.
From right to left; 6th, and current car owner, Palle Johansen, 4th car owner Bob Drake from Indian, Jack Stewart, and author of the Jack Stewart Ford book Rik Hoving.
Bob Drake and Jack Stewart pre-signing copies of the Jack Stewart Ford book and sharing many memories at the 2013 GNRS.