Following the heartbreakingly untimely passing of John Stewart I wanted to air as many tributes to him that I could as there were far too many to include in a single press article.
In no particular order here is what others wanted to say.
John was an exceptional extraordinarily passionate, authentic life force, driven to make the world a better place.
He was incredibly good company and will be sorely missed especially by those privileged to have counted him as a dear friend.
As head of planning for Aberdeen City Council I worked very closely with John. I was always impressed by his passion and commitment to those things he believed in, including making the city a better place.
On a personal note, I am also still appreciative of the support he gave me at a particularly difficult time.
I am extremely saddened to hear this news and my thoughts are with Neil and John’s family.
My thoughts, and those of Liberal Democrats in Aberdeen and beyond, are with John Stewart’s husband Neil, their families and friends.
John Stewart was passionate about making a difference. That passion was obvious during his time as Leader of Aberdeen City Council when he worked to make a real positive difference despite the huge challenges faced by the Council. He was a hard-working local councillor who stood up for the communities and people he represented.
John was a positive, friendly and caring person. He was respected for his strong commitment to public service and to the welfare of others. John’s death at so young an age is difficult to accept and leaves a gap in the lives of many.
The first time I spoke to John was over the phone: Rrrrrrrobert Smith’s office was his greeting. Nobody can roll an R like John.
We knew each other during various incarnations over the following 21 years and I have far too many anecdotes to choose from so I’ll just try to distil my impressions of him in a few brief paragraphs.
John Stewart was a kind and hardworking man who did not pull his punches defending others, his political decisions and beliefs with equal passion.
His friendship, support and advice meant so much to a huge number of people and we’ll never know how many he helped.
John had a mind the size of Ayrshire and then some, he was funny, he was fun, he shall not be forgotten.
His devotion to Neil is a lesson to us all as is Neil’s to John.
I am sad that I’ll never see him again.
John Stewart’s administration of Aberdeen City Council had vision, purpose and dynamism reflecting his own personal qualities.
As an officer of the council, I left the politics to others, but the sense of purpose and drive that John embodied was galvanising. All the more so it has to be said after an unhappy period of drift and malaise that had afflicted the council – and city itself – for too long prior to him becoming council leader.
For me, Marschial College will be his legacy. John recognised that the council had to modernise and to do that, it not only had to restructure its finances, it had to modernise the way it worked and have the modern-day facilities to deliver services to citizens.
That the renovation of the Marischal College building and its restoration as the beating civic heart of Aberdeen was ever achieved will stand as a testament to John’s tenacity and vision for the city of Aberdeen.
I was sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was a hard working councillor.
Condolences to Neil.
It is always very sad to see someone die so young and my thoughts go out to Neil and to John’s family and friends.
Sir Robert Smith
John brought enthusiasm, intelligence and humour to everything he did. I feel fortunate to have worked alongside him for so long. He was a close friend as well as a colleague and will be much missed by many in Aberdeenshire.
Dame Sue Bruce
I am saddened to hear of John’s death especially at such a young age. He was a thoughtful and considerate person to work with. My thoughts go out to Neil, their family and friends.
Such a tragic loss. I remember John as a passionate and committed councillor who did not fear making the necessary difficult decisions to improve services to the public and balance the books.
This demonstrates his commitment to fulfil civic duty as an honourable politician with great integrity at a time when lesser mortals would walk away from this responsibility knowing there would be no personal gain.
As an Aberdeen City Council director I worked closely with John who was extremely dedicated and committed to the various roles he held in the authority’s administration.
Above all his intelligence and sharpness of mind was a great asset to the council during his time serving the people of Aberdeen as a councillor.
I am so saddened to hear of his loss and my heart goes out to Neil, his family and friends.
I remember John fondly, he was very supportive at a time of great change, had a lovely sense of humour and was honest to a fault. I remember him telling me once that he would give me a reference but that it would be honest.
I liked that about him.
It’s so hard to believe.
John was a dedicated councillor and leader for Aberdeen challenging the city and staff to aim high. John had a great interest in promoting Aberdeen and in the events we delivered for the city and always had time for sharing ideas. So sad to hear of his passing when he still had so much to give.
John was such a wonderful person and I did so enjoy working with him. He achieved so much during his tenure at Aberdeen City Council and beyond and it was a great loss when he chose to leave for Manchester.
Both Neil and John were such a dynamic duo.
He is such a huge loss.
I first came across John in the mid-2000s when I returned to work for in Aberdeen after several years away. John at that point was part of the leadership team of Aberdeen City Council who were taking over an administration that had been challenged and needed to make significant changes to the culture and direction of travel.
As the senior elected member his clarity of vision was evident across the organisation. When questioned (or challenged) he was always able to respectfully acknowledge different positions, while continuing to move the organisation forward.
It was over the next several years that I had closer contact with John (and Neil) in the establishment of Sport Aberdeen. Throughout this journey his fortitude, passion for social and community provision of services, and awareness of the wider picture helped support the fledgling trust.
In the subsequent years our contact, distant or limited, never failed to provide inspiration for a man who knew what he wanted, what he was able to offer and where he wanted to go (professionally and personally).
While not an individual in my “close contacts” his journey from schoolboy in Kilmarnock, in politics, in marriage and in advocating for groups he was passionate about has been evident to anyone who had even the slightest of interactions with him.
He will be missed by all the individuals and groups he has been a part of and having read some of the other reflections on his life, these will continue for years hence.
“People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but People will never forget how you made them feel.”
Honoured. Valued. Appreciated. Included. Missed.