Sherwood Stewart of Lake Martin was literally part of a dying breed. He was a veteran of World War II. The war ended 79 years ago, but Col. Stewart, his family, and his state were blessed by his life for the following 79 years—an abundant life.

Fewer and fewer World War II Vets are still with us.   

Lt. Col. Sherwood Stewart, age 98, died on the Fourth of July. It was a perfectly appropriate time of departure.

For years, Col. Stewart sang special music at the popular “Church in the Pines” on Lake Martin, an open-air and open-invitation Christian Church. A blockbuster annual event was Col. Stewart’s singing of “America the Beautiful” on Independence weekend.

A frequent worship team for Independence weekend at Church in the Pines was Rev. John Ed Mathison preaching and Col. Sherwood Stewart singing. The experience has been described as an Alabama version of Billy Graham preaching and George Beverly Shea singing.

John Ed Mathison will again preach the Independence weekend service this Sunday, July 7. He says Col. Stewart will be there in spirit.

“It was always good to have Col. Stewart singing, because his singing could cover any of my weak preaching,” Mathison joked.

The Church in the Pines is the go-to place for hometown church-goers who are enjoying the lake on Sundays. The largest attendance is often on the Sunday of Independence weekend, resulting in thousands across central Alabama hearing Col. Stewart sing the patriotic songs of our nation since about 2012.

Elmore County Commissioner Mack Daugherty has been the worship leader of Church in the Pines for 21 years. Each Sunday, Daugherty leads the opening prayer and congregational singing. He also introduces the guest singer and speaker.

Daugherty described Col. Stewart’s singing, “If you closed your eyes, you would think a 35-year-old was singing and not a 90-plus-year-old. He was sharp as a tack.”

Mathison added, “Col. Stewart was a powerful singer, but his spirit was even stronger, and you could sense it wherever he went.”

Col. Stewart is survived by his wife of 70-plus years, “Miss Ann.”  Daugherty says he saw Miss Ann three weeks ago and said this about her:

“Miss Ann is a true Southern Lady. She is a classic. She looks like she just stepped out of the beauty parlor.”

“Miss Ann and Stewart met before he left for the War. She waited on him. She likes to say that she has three Colonels – Col. Stewart, their son and her own father.”

“Sherwood Stewart was 17-years-old and dropped out of Huntingdon College to volunteer for the war. He rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. When he got back, he and Miss Ann took back up.”

Arrangements will be announced.

What an Alabama life story. What an American life story.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler’s beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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