Robert Gordon Stewart was a Lewes boy at heart. While his father was from Baltimore and his mother from an old Lewes family, Stewart spent summers at his family house on Pilottown Road, despite spending most of his time in Baltimore, and was even briefly a student in the schools here. After attending the University of Pennsylvania and time serving on the Army, Stewart held several positions including Director of Properties for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Senior Curator of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian.
Throughout his life he and his mother, Ruth Chambers Stewart, were ardent supporters of the Society and its mission. Of special importance to Stewart were our collections. During his lifetime he made sure important pieces from his family and from Lewes would find their way to our museums. Such pieces include a Chamber family Limoges chocolate set on display in the Burton-Ingram House, a Lewes recipe book, the minute book of the Lewes Men’s Club and other paintings and prints.
Stewart was an active part of the Society’s life. His vast museum experience made him a natural consultant on a variety of issues. His passion for research led him to be a contributing writer to The Journal of The Lewes Historical Society and served on the Board of Trustees and on the Endowment and Collections Committees.
When Stewart passed away in 2005, the Society discovered that his commitment continued in the form of one of the largest planned gifts in the Society’s history- over $400,000 that forms the core of our Endowment. In addition to monetary considerations the Stewart estate called for Chambers family quilts, our iconic painting of Pilot Schooner #4, Ebe W. Tunnell and numerous photographic and archival materials to be donated to the Society. These pieces form a rich legacy of Lewes that we will be able to pass down to future generations to learn from and enjoy.
Robert notified the Society of his intentions to name the Society in his will but no one was aware to what extent he thought of the Society. Executive Director Mike DiPaolo commented, “Robert’s gift was extraordinary for an organization such as ours. In the future we will be able to look back and say, ‘We were able to accomplish this because of Robert Stewart’s lasting gift; endowment gifts ensure the Society will have the capacity to be the regional leader in education, research and advocacy.”
Making a planned gift through your will or other instrument is perhaps the easiest way to make such a gift to the Endowment. For more information, please contact your estate planner or financial consultant. If you wish to notify the Society of a planned gift so we may acknowledge it, please contact Mike DiPaolo at 302-645-7670.