Professor Don Stewart, the Chair of the Department of Mass Communication, passed away Nov. 18 after becoming ill during the fall semester.
Stewart, 68, who had been a member of the Francis Marion University faculty since 1984, was hospitalized last month and his condition did not improve. He is survived by his wife, Vickie, of Florence, three daughters, a son and grandchildren.
Doctors suspect Stewart may have suffered from encephalopathy, which does not refer to a single disease but can cause various brain diseases. Stewart suffered from intense muscle pain and memory lapses at the time he was admitted to the hospital.
Stewart served as chairman of Mass Comm-unication since July 2003, when the program became the 12th department in the College of Liberal Arts.
He came to Francis Marion University as the school’s first full-time mass communication professor. That was shortly after the Department of English est-ablished a minor. He came here from Dayton, Ohio, where he had worked as a reporter for the Dayton Daily News for 11 years.
After developing most of the academic courses which comprised the original minor, Stewart helped coordinate a cooperative program that allowed select FMU students to complete a semester at the University of South Car-olina’s school of journalism to finish a major. In 1995, the state Commission on Higher Education approved a pro-posal Stewart drafted that allowed FMU to offer its own mass communication major.
A native of western Pennsylvania, Stewart won six major awards for his reporting and writing during his 15-year journalism career. He worked as a reporter and editor on seven newspapers in five states.
Previously he worked as a writing coach for the staff of the Florence Morning News. Having worked as a court reporter for newspapers, Stewart developed the Media Law and Ethics course at FMU. He has also been retained as an expert witness in numerous libel suits.
Stewart is a 1965 graduate of Greenville College in Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Speech and English. He received a Masters of Arts degree in journalism from Michigan State University in 1967.
He subsequently taught at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York and Sinclair Community College and the University of Dayton.