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June 11, 2004

David Stewart, a Michigan State expert on deaf education, dies at 50

From: - MI,USA - Jun 11, 2004

The Associated Press
6/11/2004, 12:10 p.m. ET

MASON, Mich. (AP) — David Alan Stewart, an internationally known Michigan State University researcher in deaf education who also was deaf, has died. He was 50.

"It was just such a shock," his wife Elizabeth Stewart told the Lansing State Journal. "The night before, he was at the ice rink playing stick-and-puck with our son. And he had been getting the farm ready for our daughter's (equestrian) jumps."

Stewart died Monday in his sleep of unknown causes.

"He had a kindness I can't describe. His empathy for people was incredible," Elizabeth Stewart said.

Stewart, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, was a professor and deaf education program coordinator in Michigan State's College of Education. He is survived by his wife and children Rachel, 19; Rebecca, 16; Jennifer, 15; and Michael, 12.

"I did presentations in his classes, and I saw such an amazing connection between him and his students," assistant professor Matthew Mayer said. "There was a real bond."

Stewart was a pioneer in creating interactive devices for learning and communicating in American Sign Language. He also was a trustee of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the country's first deaf liberal arts university. Gallaudet President I. King Jordan is expected to attend the funeral.

For the past year and a half, Stewart had been treated for prostate cancer that had spread. But he had just been told the cancer was in remission, his wife said.

Brian Winn, a Michigan State assistant telecommunications professor and Stewart's business partner, said he was "a very energetic, passionate person."

They first worked together in the early 1990s on a CD-ROM for a portable device that communicated in both spoken and sign language. It was named computer software of the year by Discover magazine in 1995.

They went on to create online sign language courses.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. EDT Saturday at All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbott Road, East Lansing. Visitation is at 1 p.m. at the church.


Information from: Lansing State Journal,

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.