That always will be a good name for he was a good man.
The former West Virginia University football coach, who died of a heart attack on Monday at age 59, was a down-home West Virginia country boy who loved his home state as well as the university that bore its name.
Even after being elevated to the most high-profile position in the state (sorry, Gov. Tomblin), Stewart never displayed an ego.
"I'm still the boy that stole turnips from the neighbor's garden,'' the New Martinsville native would say. And he meant it.
Stewart was one of the most kind and most gentle man I've ever met. The stories of his kindness toward others are numerous and legendary.
I remember one man telling me about the day he and his young son stopped by the Mountaineer football office. "Is there any way my son could meet coach Stewart?,'' the man asked a secretary. She explained that coach Stewart was out-of-town but was due to arrive shortly by helicopter. If they would like to wait, she would give the coach a message.
About 20 minutes after hearing a helicopter, the man and his son were approached by coach Stewart who enthusiastically said, "I understand there's a young man here that wants to meet me.'' He then proceeded to give them a private tour of the football facility.
That was typical Stew. He made time for everybody. All the great ones share that trait. No matter how busy they are or how important others view them, they treat those with whom they come into contact the way they would want to be treated.
Notice the focus on Bill Stewart, the man, rather than Bill Stewart, the coach. That's because my fondest memories of Stew took place away from the spotlight of Mountaineer football. It's when the spotlight goes down that you find out what a public figure is made of. Bill was a salt-of-the-Earth, true-blue West Virginian.
Anyone who ever questioned his intelligence should have seen him work a room. He not only remembered the names of those he met, but he also would ask about their family members by name. Although the person to whom he was talking seemed in awe of his presence, he would make them feel like they were the important one in the conversation.
While he had his share of critics -name one high-profile college coach who doesn't - Stewart engineered what I consider the biggest victory in WVU history, leading the Mountaineers to a 48-28 win over Oklahoma in the Jan. 2, 2008, Fiesta Bowl. The Mountaineer football program - make that the entire Mountain State - had been devastated twice in the weeks leading up to that game.
First came the most disappointing loss WVU ever suffered, the 13-9 setback to arch-rival Pitt in the regular-season finale. Had WVU won, it would have qualified for the BCS National Championship Game.
Then, shortly after that stunning setback, highly popular coach Rich Rodriguez, a West Virginia native and former Mountaineer player, left to become the head coach at Michigan.
The players were devastated. How could WVU prepare for a game that was little more than a consolation prize? That's when former athletics director Ed Pastilong asked Stewart to take charge of the program. In typical Stew fashion, Bill simply said, Yes, sir'' and went to work.
When he got to Arizona, he wowed the national media that gathered for the game, who never had seen or heard anyone like him - and didn't quite know how to take him - but they sure liked the way he handled himself.
West Virginia, a 9-point underdog, was supposed to be cannon fodder for Oklahoma. It turned out the other way around. WVU won in a rout. When the game was over, quarterback Pat White pointed at Stewart and said, "There's our coach.''
WVU administrators agreed and conducted a hastily-called press conference to make it official.
Thus began Stewart's official tenure. Each of his three full seasons resulted in 9-4 records, but WVU never finished any of the years ranked in the top 20, which didn't set well following the 11-win seasons of the Rodriguez years.
In June 2010, embroiled in a controversy that he allegedly was sabotaging Dana Holgorsen, the man who was going to succeed him the following season, Stewart resigned, and Holgorsen was elevated to the head coaching position.
Stewart became controversial with Mountaineer fans, who were hungry for Rodriguez-like results. He had both his supporters and his detractors.
Those who loved him stood by him no matter the results or the media reports. Those who wanted him out would make fun of his sayings like "match the mountains'' and ridicule him for squinting at the scoreboard or fumbling with his headset. They would refer to him as Gomer, which they viewed as a derogatory term.
I pretty sure Stew would take that as a compliment. For Gomer greeted everyone he met with enthusiasm and treated them with respect.
The Good Lord threw away the mold after he created Bill Stewart. He was a one-of-kind unforgettable character who to really know him was to love him.
May he rest in peace.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org