Engineer and yachting supplies sales specialist Ian Stewart passed away in Fort Lauderdale at the end of October. He was 55.
Born in Cornwall, England, Stewart’s family moved to Nassau, Bahamas, when he was 2, and he grew up on the water, sailing, driving boats, fishing, diving, water skiing, and surfing. He went to boarding school back in England, then finished high school in Miami. At the age of 18, Stewart went into yachting, working alongside his father, who was captain on Empress II, Cricket/Brave Wolfe. He became a highly skilled engineer, working for 15 years on motor yachts including Renegade, Rasselas, Carmac, and Mystique, to name a few.
Upon moving ashore, Stewart worked with International Yachtmaster Training for two years before joining the sales team at National Marine Suppliers in Fort Lauderdale, where he worked for the past two decades. His 20th anniversary with the company was celebrated in December 2021, at which time he also received the company’s Employee of the Year Award, according to Director Dean Dutoit.
“Ian Stewart was a friend, coworker, and someone I deeply respected and admired,” Dutoit said. “We shared so many good times, fantastic memories, and laughter. His vast knowledge and experience in the yachting industry were integral in him single-handedly helping us start our engineering department at National Marine. He was a dedicated employee with great work ethic and a team player who always wanted to assist. He will be deeply missed in more ways than he could ever know, but he will never be forgotten.”
Audrey Curzio, who worked closely with Ian Stewart as his research assistant, said, “Ian was a mentor for me. I worked with Ian for over 10 years in the engineering department. He was extremely knowledgeable at his job and always pulled through for the customer, he went above and beyond. Ian was a kind soul and thoughtful person. He loved gardening … he knew I loved gardenias and he always brought them in for me when they were blooming,” Curzio said. “I will miss him dearly.”
Gordon Demary, who worked closely with Ian for almost two decades at National Marine, said, “Ian was a very kind, humble, and decent man, friend, and colleague.”
Jodie Rodriguez, who worked closely with both Ian and Demary over the past 14 years, said, “Ian had the coolest dry humor and quick one-liners to keep the day rolling. He was quiet, but he would have excellent comedic timing. I will always remember him nicknaming me ‘Bon Jodi’ because I was always loud and my big curly hair.”
Charlie Quinones, a close friend who worked with Ian for 18 years and was his roommate for five months, said, “Ian was the kind of person who would help you when you were at your lowest point in your life, and bring light to it. I will always miss my brother and my friend. I will always keep his memory alive.”
Another coworker who worked closely with Stewart for nearly 15 years at National Marine was John Granstaff. “He was like a big brother to me. I owe a lot of my success in this industry to him. I was very green when I joined NMS, and Ian took me under his wing. He would let me struggle when he knew it was a learning opportunity, but he would never let me fall. He was always there with the right answer,” said Granstaff. “He never took any glory for his accomplishments, just chalked it up as another day in the office. His loss will be felt by so many across this industry. A true legend he was.”
Scott Dodgin said he learned from Stewart over the past eight years they worked together. “He was a great teacher and mentor, a great friend who always had an ear to listen and help when needed,” said Scott. “He will be missed dearly.”
Robin Emerson worked with Stewart for 11 years, the past five as his research assistant. “Ian was very knowledgeable and was always there to help myself and other sales staff,” Emerson said. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He would crack a dry joke and make you smile when you were having a rough day. His loss is felt by all of us at work.”
Family, friends, and colleagues said they will remember Stewart as a focused, dedicated employee with a strong work ethic; a football and motorsports fan; an avid gardener; and someone who loved making Bahamian rum punch for crew parties on the beach at Lyford Cay.
Stewart’s sister Katie, friends, coworkers, business associates, and customers from over the years gathered at his home recently for a Celebration of Life in his honor. Donations in his memory can be made to his favorite charity, Good Karma Pet Rescue, at goodkarmapetrescue.org.