Irwin Stewart is being inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame for his contributions, leadership and volunteerism to the community of Rensselaer.
Irwin “Irv” was an alumnus of the class of 1935, where he was an honor student. After high school, he took a course at RPI in Production Planning and Control, then courses through the NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, with concentrations in: labor law, special labor and management problems, contract negotiation and collective bargaining.
Born and raised in Rensselaer, he married in 1942, then was off to WWII, serving in the South Pacific in the 35th Battalion of the US Navy Seabeas for over three years. When he returned he became involved in ward politics and was elected as 6th Ward Alderman from 1953-65. He also chaired the Law and Water committeess. In ’65 he was elected as Common Council President, serving until 1971 and was then elected Mayor and served for 2 yrs. Four years later, he was appointed as Common Council President again to fill the post due to a death. He won the next election and served as President until 1979.
His political career was in addition to his paid career in the GAF Corporation in Rensselaer where he worked for 38 yrs., 10 of which were as Chief Production Scheduler. In 1981, Irv was appointed by Gov. Hugh Carey and re-appointed by Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1983 and 86 to the Albany-Rensselaer Port Commission. For his work on this, the common council renamed the access road to the port after him: The Irwin Stewart Port Expressway.
Irv was active in the GAF Old Timers Association, the GAF Athletic Association and was president of the company Supervisory Association and Industrial Club. Irv volunteered as Santa Claus for many years in the GAF sponsored Kiddies Christmas Party, at St. John’s Orphanage and at area hospitals and nursing homes. In addition to the company activities, Irv volunteered his time as a member of the Gerald O’Neil and Raymond Ranellucci Posts and as first Commander of the VFW Starland Post comprised of GAF employees.
Other volunteer activities included the Capital District Transportation Study and the Committee on Pollution Abatement, and the E.F. Hart Hose and G.S. Mink Fire Companies. Socially he was director of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, a member of the Rensselaer Historical Society, The Elks, and was a Vestryman and Treasurer for the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. He was a member, with his wife Mary, for many years, of the NYS PTA in the 1950s. In 1993, the satellite facility of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club on Aiken Avenue was also named for Irwin.
Irwin passed away in 1995. He was posthumously nominated by his eldest son, David, also being honored this evening. He and his wife, the former Mary Morris, also an alumna of the class of 1937, raised 3 children, all alumni: David ’63, Linda ’65 and William ’71 who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
The Stewart Family accepts their father Irwin Stewart's '35 plaque, poshumously