SYLVAN BEACH, NY - Edward "Eddie" Richard Stewart Jr, 76, of Sylvan Beach, NY, died on January 15, 2021, after a brief hospitalization in the city of Miami Beach that he so dearly loved.
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Born in Oneida, NY, on December 21, 1944, he was the son of the late Edward and Florence “Fifi”
(Campanero) Stewart. Eddie graduated from Oneida High School in 1963 and later received an Associate Degree in restaurant hospitality from the State University of New York, Morrisville. He married Leslie Faass Wolcott, of Camden, on December 26, 1966.
A gregarious and light-hearted man, a "restaurant person" born to a restaurant family, Eddie delighted in sharing food, conversation and laughter with friends and relatives. He had an unmatched gift for striking up conversations with total strangers, who quickly warmed to his openness and loving sense of humor.
Eddie was practically part of the Sylvan Beach landscape. He spent his early years working at the landmark "Eddie's Restaurant," established by his parents in 1934, and with his wife Leslie took over ownership and operation of the business in 1980. The couple opened a second restaurant on the east shore of Oneida Lake, "Harpoon Eddie's," in 1984. Many generations of Eddie’s Restaurant and Harpoon Eddies’ loyal customers and staff were ultimately family to Eddie, remaining ever cherished by him, together with his beloved Leslie.
Life took a drastic and difficult turn for Eddie and his family in 1991 when he suffered a disabling heart attack and stroke. No longer able to work the daily restaurant grind, he remained a strong presence in the business, becoming an ambassador and warm greeter who always made customers feel welcomed and loved.
For decades at "Eddie's", he held court in the "family booths" near the kitchen doors, telling and retelling stories about multiple generations of customers and employees who had made the place part of their own homes, keeping alive the memories of the ones who had passed.
A lifelong resident and advocate for Sylvan Beach, Eddie was instrumental in its incorporation, and served as a founding member of the Village Board during the late 1970s, working to establish the municipal sewer system and improve public services. He was a member of the Sylvan Beach Volunteer Fire Department for more than fifty years.
In childhood, Eddie spent winter vacations with his parents and older sister Barbara in Miami, which became his "other beach." He and his new bride Leslie honeymooned there, beginning an era of memorable years with family and friends at his cousin Peter’s “Heathwood Motel” and later made a winter home in Florida for their own family, which they enjoyed sharing with old friends from Central New York and newfound ones in the south. Everyone loved being with Eddie. Although broken hearted and missing his Leslie, he remained a joyful soul, loving and celebrating his dear friends and family.
Eddie took great joy in live music, and was proud to have brought the first free concerts to the community on the Village Park bandstand. For many years he could be found at Harpoon Eddie's most nights, tapping to the beats. In summer he often parked next to the outdoor stage with the car windows rolled down to enjoy shows and catch up with his many friends between sets. He formed lasting bonds with musicians from throughout Central New York.
A lifelong fan of high-performance cars, Eddie founded the Beach's annual Corvette Show in the Harpoon Eddie's parking lot in 1991. It soon outgrew that space and relocated to the Village Park, where it has since become one of the biggest Corvette shows in the Northeast.
Eddie loved to keep in touch with his friends around the country, and in winter he particularly enjoyed reporting Florida weather conditions to the ones holding down the fort in Central New York. Many will miss his regular morning wake-up calls, and hear Eddie's voice echoing across time, sorely missed and long remembered.
Eddie is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Edward III (Rick) and Wendy Stewart, Sylvan Beach;
his daughter and son-in-law, Alison and Anthony Cuchiarale, Rochester; six grandchildren, Edward
Stewart IV and his partner Madelyn Baldwin of Sylvan Beach, Emily Stewart of West Palm Beach,
FL, Ava and Ania Cuchiarale, of Rochester, Daunte and Nevaeh Bacheyie, of Sylvan Beach; his sister, Barbara (Stewart) Corona of Sylvan Beach; his mother-in-law, Eileen Wolcott of New Hartford: his brothers-in-law Tim Wolcott and James Wolcott of Camden, Willard Wolcott of Florence, and Michael Wolcott of Arizona; sisters-in-law Bobbi and Andy Wolff of Cleveland, Shelley and Glenn Ceglia of Herkimer, Pam Wolcott of Sylvan Beach and Joanne Wolcott of Colorado; his former daughter-in-law Lana Jo Yates of Munnsville; several loving cousins, nieces and nephews; many close friends; and hundreds upon hundreds of past and present employees of "Eddie’ s Restaurant". He was predeceased by the love of his life, Leslie, just nine months earlier; his father, Edward Stewart Sr. and mother, Florence (Fifi) Stewart; his father-in-law, Willard Wolcott Sr; and brother-in-law, Robert Corona Sr.
Rick and Alison would like to especially thank their cousin Dr. Robert Corona Jr. for being their father’s medical advocate and enabling his golden heart to thrive, giving their family many more years together.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no calling hours or church services. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date, with arrangements under the care of the Adrean Funeral Service, Inc. in Utica.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in Eddie's memory may be made to the Sylvan Beach Fire Department, P.O Box 503, Sylvan Beach, NY, 13157; or St. Mary’s of the Lake Church, 6734 State Route 13, Verona Beach, NY 13162.