The Sharks mourn the passing and offer their condolences to the family of Jack Stewart, one of the most influential administrators in the history of the Cronulla club and a man who held the position of Leagues Club President for an unmatched period of 19 years.
Stewart passed away last Saturday, aged 99.
Born in Sydney on August 22, 1921, one of four children to Margaret and Patrick, Stewart served in New Guinea in World War II, played first grade rugby league for Canterbury, before having a significant role at the Cronulla Club as a Board member and as Sharks Leagues Club President.
Stewart was also a long-term President of the Cronulla-Sutherland District Junior Rugby League, holding that position from 1972 until 1983.
He began as Leagues Club President in 1972, became Chairman of both the Leagues and Football Club committees in 1988 when they merged into one, before being replaced in 1991.
During his time at the helm Stewart stood alongside then-NSW Premier Neville Wran to officially cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the new Leagues Club building in April of 1977.
In 2019 in the Club’s final days before shutdown and ahead of the planned refurbishment and car park land development, Stewart attended the Leagues Club and was presented with a jersey featuring his name as the Sharks acknowledged his long-term commitment and service to the Cronulla club.
A man with a sharp mind well into his later years, in 1996 and with the assistance of son Peter, Stewart produced a memoir, The Random Memories of a very old man, detailing his experiences growing up in Belmore, his service in PNG during the Second World War, playing for the Berries before they became ‘Bulldogs’, as well as his time at the Sharks, the battles won and lost off the field and in the boardroom in navigating the internal politics of the time.
Until his passing last weekend, Stewart had been the oldest surviving Canterbury first grade player.
One of his closest friends and former Board colleague, ex-Sharks Chairman Barry Pierce, remembered a man who always put the best interests of the club first in giving outstanding service to the Sharks for over two decades.
“I was on the board for two years with Jack,” Pierce recalled. “He was a very strong, committed Chairman. I learnt a lot from him.”
Stewart is survived by his son Peter, grandchildren Melanie, Damian, Jacob, Andrew, Joel and Ashley, as well as seven great grandchildren. His wife Mary and son Steve are deceased.
Jack Stewart’s funeral will be conducted on Thursday at 1.30pm at the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Caringbah, with a celebration of Jack’s life to be held at the Sharks at Kareela club following the service at around 4.00pm.