Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Suzanne Stewart

January 8, 1949 - February 27, 2024
Grand Rapids, MI



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Alzheimer's Association - Michigan Great Lakes Chapter
200 Turwill Ln Suite 6
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
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Life Story / Obituary


Suzanne Marie (Bradford) Stewart, age 75, passed away peacefully February 27, 2024 with her loving family at her side. Suzanne was born January 8, 1949, in Detroit to the late Maxwell and Jane (Clifford) Bradford. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Jerry Stewart; brother, Michael Bradford; and her sister, Deb Peterman. Suzanne is survived by her children, Joshua Stewart of Belmont, Jacob Stewart of Vacaville, CA, and Molly (Jennifer Ostwald) Stewart of Grand Rapids. She is also survived by her in-laws, Roger Peterman and Colleen Bradford, as well as many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews. According to her wishes, cremation has taken place. Service information will be announced soon.

Content in all things, Suzanne Stewart, enjoyed life and always treated others with care and the utmost respect. Suzanne embodied the principles of her faith, greeting each day and person with gratitude, optimism, and honor. A humble and happy person, she chose integrity and kindness at every turn, proving a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know her. A devoted wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, and teacher, Suzanne will long be remembered and so very missed.

After years of misery brought on by the Great Depression and World War II, 1949 marked significant postwar prosperity as sales of cars, televisions, and other goods were demanded by a consumer society. The establishment of NATO, the first sale of a V.W. Beetle in the U.S., the first successful television sitcom, and the first Polaroid camera marked 1949 as a year of hope, growth, and consumerism. The nation's focus was on family and building a brighter future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the home of Maxwell and Jane (Clifford) Bradford as they welcomed their daughter Suzanne to their family on January 8 in Detroit, Michigan.

The oldest of the three Bradford kids, Suzanne was a proud big sister. Her father, an Army veteran, worked for the U.S. Postal Service and later owned his own construction business. Her mother was a homemaker and later a direct care worker helping people with disabilities. The family moved several times, living in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Mackinaw City, and Gaylord. They enjoyed camping and traveling, especially making an epic trip to Europe when Suzanne was a teen.

Suzanne played piano, learned to sew and knit, and enjoyed the beach. During high school, she was a cheerleader, participated in the pep squad, and played in the marching band. Her father gave her her first job, pulling nails out of boards, and her first car was a yellow Volkswagon Beetle.

From her earliest years, Suzanne wanted to be a teacher and would often play school with her siblings and friends as her students. After graduating from Gaylord High School with the class of 1967, Suzanne pursued her goals by studying education at Central Michigan University. While at Central Michigan University she had lots of “good clean fun” in the dorms and joined the Kappa Phi service sorority. She earned her bachelor's degree in education with a minor in home economics.

With her degree in hand, Suzanne returned to Gaylord and began teaching second grade at North Ohio Elementary, where she taught for over 30 years. A passionate educator, Suzanne poured her heart and soul into her students, supporting them through their struggles and celebrating their successes. When her friends and family encouraged her to be more social, she accepted the invitation to a get-together in Charlevoix. It proved a decision that would forever change her life, as it was where she was introduced to Jerry Stewart by mutual friends. Jerry was a sixth-grade teacher, and the pair instantly connected over their mutual love for education. He visited her during her final semester. After graduating in ‘71 and landing a teaching job in Gaylord, she got her own apartment in Gaylord for a year, the happy couple married on June 17, 1972, at his family's property at Burt Lake.

The newlyweds enjoyed a two-week honeymoon camping in the Upper Peninsula and Canada before settling into married life. In time, the couple was blessed with three children, Joshua, Jacob, and Molly, who were the centers of Suzanne's world. She was a great mom. Always nurturing, Suzanne gracefully balanced a full-time career and homemaking. She did it all, ensured her family the security of a loving and supportive home, taxied kids to and fro, and heartily cheered on all of their endeavors.

In 1977, Suzanne's father built the family's house on Hayes Tower Road, which would be their home for years. Because everyone shared school schedules, the family enjoyed the opportunities for extended times together. Spring breaks spent in warm places, summer trips, and annual stays in Grand Rapids to visit Suzanne's sister and family were some of the highlights of their years. Attending the Detroit Lions football games was a Thanksgiving tradition, as was stopping for dinner on the way home at Denny's in Flint. Christmas traditions included Suet Pudding, a Scottish dish with an acquired taste.

Suzanne enjoyed lifelong friendships with friends from high school, college and teaching and was a member of a TOPS group for over twenty years, which became a central social time for her. Faith was a cornerstone for Suzanne, and she was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Gaylord, where she was involved in various ladies' groups and benevolence/ fundraisers. She also enjoyed taking girls' trips with her mother, daughter, sister, and nieces, traveling to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

After retiring in 2007, despite Jerry's declining health, Suzanne and Jerry were able to enjoy a few years of traveling. Special memories were made while seeing the Phantom of the Opera in Detroit and exploring the Wisconsin Dells and the Soo Locks in Sault St. Marie, Michigan. With signature patience and kindness, Jerry's health and care were Suzanne's primary focus before his passing in January of 2016. Later that year, Suzanne and all of her children made a memorable trip to California.

An inspiration to all who knew her, Suzanne's legacy of unwavering faith, love, and hope will surely be carried forward in the lives of those she so dearly loved. In each moment we celebrate life's joys and confidently face its challenges, graciously serve others, lead with our hearts, and choose contentment, we keep Suzanne's legacy alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.