June 15, 1943 – April 13, 2023
Richard A. Stewart, who was affectionally known as the unofficial “Mayor of Pocahontas Island” has gone from Labor to Glory. He suddenly passed away peacefully on April 13, 2023. He will be missed dearly by family and friends.
His representation and civic devotion on Pocahontas and Petersburg issues will be missed. And he did stand tall and “Represent.” He was a true “Agent of Change” and worked tirelessly to give people a “Hand Up and a Handout” when needed. He believed “all people” could make it when given a fair chance based on his own humble and poor beginnings in Petersburg.
Mr. Stewart, also known as “Uncle Richard” by many was born and raised on Pocahontas Island. He served a few years in the military both in and outside the U.S. After his distinguished military career on special assignments, infantry and assistance to Commands, he then passed the civil service exam and began his next career at Defense General Supply Center (DGSC), now known as DSCR for 41 years where he made a lot of lifelong friends. He subsequently retired with certificates of honors from management and political leaders.
Once retired, he had “a calling” to serve again to help those in need and the betterment of neighborhoods in Petersburg, by attending city meetings and “giving voice” for the people on issues to effect positive change. Each endeavor was successful with the support of City Officials and prior Senator and longtime Mayor of Petersburg Rosalyn Dance, who herself was a major advocate for positive and upward change for Petersburg.
Richard had a “gift for gab” as people said and could convince anyone to “Vote” his way. This enabled much change in the Pocahontas neighborhood such as having the city government and Mayor Dance reserve a street and a sign on Pocahontas Island to honor the first President of Liberia, Joseph Jenkins Roberts that once walked the grounds of Pocahontas Island and Petersburg. Richard felt Black History such as this should be told and made public for all to learn the important history of Petersburg and America.
Thus, he spent the rest of his life devoted to Black History education by opening the first Black history Museum in Petersburg and on Pocahontas Island. The “Richard A. Stewart Black History Museum”
So, people could visit from everywhere and learned the History of Petersburg, Pocahontas, and America. The powerful reality lectures on the Atlantic Slave Trades were mind blowing but educated all who visited on the trials and tribulations of slaves shackled, beat, separated, and sold for labor. Richard in his wisdom truly believed, “We cannot as a Country move forward as a nation of people until we know where we have been as a people. And than the healing can began.” The Museum still sits in his memory erected on Pocahontas Island.
Richard A. Stewart is survived by his daughter, Cynthia Mason and son-in-law, John Mason; three sisters, Edna Stewart-Johnson, Annie Stewart and Clementine Stewart-Patterson; and a devoted love of “his life”, Ms. Amanda Wyatt. He also leaves to cherish his memories several nieces and nephews; devoted friends at Hardees, Crater Road and those that worked with him at DGSC and in the Virginia National Guard Military service, Mr. Jerry Eberhart, Julius Holloway, and Garland Mines (supervisor).
As a result of his dedication and investments to civic duties and issues in Peterburg. In 2003, the city government proclaimed by Proclamation every August 6th, as “Richard A. Stewart Day” in Petersburg.
“My Ship has set sail to Glory.”
Services will be held 11:00 A.M., Saturday, April 22, 2023, at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 418 Halifax Street, Petersburg, VA, the Rev. Dr. Robert A. Diggs, Sr., Pastor, eulogist. The interment to follow at Wilkerson Memorial Cemetery.
J.M. Wilkerson Funeral Establishment, Inc., 102 South Avenue, Petersburg, VA, (804) 732-8911, watch the funeral services live online at www.jmwilkersonsince1874.com.