Patient Care

James M. Stewart, Dedicated Clinician and Educator, Dies at 88

Sep. 23, 2010

James M. Stewart, M.D., clinical professor emeritus of the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, died this week. He was 88.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, 597 East Ave. Friends are invited to a 3:30 p.m. reception at the Rochester Academy of Medicine, 1441 East Ave. There will be no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Monroe County Medical Society Scholarship Fund, 132 Allens Creek Road, Rochester, N.Y., 14618.

Dr. Stewart will be remembered by family, colleagues and those in the community as a versatile clinician, a distinguished teacher and a man of high ideals who inspired countless individuals and enriched the community throughout his long and successful life.

His history at the University of Rochester Medical Center spans more than six decades. Dr. Stewart came to the Medical Center in 1948 as a post-graduate fellow in Pathology and Physiology after completing his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College where he graduated Summa Cum Laude, and completing his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. Following his arrival in Rochester, he served as assistant resident in 1948 and chief resident in 1950. He joined the faculty of the Department of Medicine in 1951 and was promoted to professor in 1970. He retired in 1990 and was named clinical professor emeritus.

Dr. Stewart’s teaching and clinical skills were recognized throughout his career. He was appointed the Lawrence A. Kohn Senior Teaching Fellow in 1970, a distinction he held through 1981, and received the American College of Physicians Upstate New York Recognition Award in 1983. He also received several recognitions from the Rochester community, including a special citation for community activities from the Colgate Rochester Divinity School and a Merit of Honor from the Rochester Academy of Medicine in 1981. In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious Albert David Kaiser Medal by the Rochester Academy of Medicine, its highest honor.

In recognition of Dr. Stewart’s dedication to teaching, in 1988 the Department of Medicine established the James M. Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award, which is presented annually to outstanding clinical faculty in the community.

He was extremely dedicated to the local medical community, including serving on the board of directors of the Monroe Plan. He was a member of the board of directors and finance and budget committee of Genesee Valley Medical Care, board of directors of Visiting Nurse Service, board of trustees and medical scholarship committee of the Monroe County Medical Society, and the medical advisory committee of the Rochester Presbyterian Home.

Dr. Stewart had a particularly strong commitment to the Rochester Academy of Medicine, for which he had served as executive director and board president, according to Marc N. Berliant, M.D., chief of the URMC Division of General Medicine, and he played a role in “its preservation and renovation, keeping that wonderful building functional, alive and vibrant.”

Dr. Stewart served as a mentor for Berliant, who trained under him, eventually working with him for nearly a decade before the well respected internist retired in 1990.

“I had the honor of practicing with him for many years, in addition to his being one of my early mentors,” Berliant said.  “He was a fabulous teacher who educated using both an impressive scope of knowledge and a steady, reassuring demeanor. He was a consummate physician who exemplified the kind of integrity, compassion and humanism that we strive for in today’s world.”

Paul C. Levy, M.D., acting chair of the URMC Department of Medicine, recalls Dr. Stewart as “one of our community’s most admired clinicians. His attention to detail was unwavering whenever he was working with patients, as well as when he taught us as medical residents.”

William Morgan, M.D., clinical professor emeritus of the Department of Medicine, knew Dr. Stewart as a colleague and a close family friend. Their relationship lasted nearly half a century.

“He was one of the top practicing physicians of his time and was highly thought of as an internist and an educator,” Morgan said.

As a clinician, Dr. Stewart was an energetic, meticulous, caring physician who took care of so many in the community, including the Morgans and other physicians and their families.

He was a gentle and loyal friend who generously opened his home for weeks or sometimes months to family and friends in need, Morgan said.

Berliant and Morgan remember how much Dr. Stewart and his wife, Natalie, loved their family and the time spent with their children and grandchildren. He was proud of all of them, they said. He especially loved being with them at their summer camp on Echo Lake in Maine, where the family spent vacations together, most recently in August.

Dr. Stewart was a member of many professional organizations, including the Monroe County Medical Society, Rochester Academy of Medicine, New York State Medical Society, Rochester Society of Internal Medicine, and the American Medical Association.

He was an active member of the Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester.

Dr. Stewart is survived by his wife of 65 years, Natalie; sister Janet Hengerer (Arthur D.) of Slingerlands; sister-in-law Jeanne Stewart of Rochester; children Nancy (Raymond Terekpa) of Ithaca, Jampa M. (Shanti Dechen) of Crestone, Colo., Richard (Beverly) of Guilford, Vt., and Cynthia of Boston, Mass.; daughter-in-law Claudia Drews of Greendale, Wisc.; grandchildren Melissa LaMorder (Mark) of Guilford, Vt., Nolan (Molly) of Portland, Maine, Michael Terepka and Amy Terepka of Portland, Ore., Adam of Redding, Calif., Gabriel of Irvine, Calif., Nathan Terekpa of New York City; and great-grandchildren Audrey LaMorder and Finn LaMorder of Guilford, Vt.