Walter Joe “W. J.” Steward, 82, Nevada, passed away on Sept. 2, at his home. W. J. was born in southeast Vernon County, on April 23, 1938, to Walter Lavere and Mary Josephine (Bradin) Steward.  

W. J. and Avril Ann Levi were united in marriage on Aug. 7, 1965 in Stockton.

 W. J. accepted the Lord at the age of ten years old at Montevallo Baptist Church. Throughout his life, his faith in Christ was evident and was the foundation for how he lived. He was ordained as a deacon at Montevallo Baptist Church in Feb. of 1974. In addition to serving as a deacon, he also served as Sunday school superintendent at Montevallo Baptist Church and as Sunday school director with the Vernon County Baptist Association. At the time of his passing, he was a member of First Baptist Church in Nevada.

W. J. attended school at Barnes and Montevallo and graduated from El Dorado Springs High School in 1955. Following graduation, he attended Southwest Missouri State University for a brief time until his father’s death in late 1956. 

He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 and served until 1963. He was stationed in both Hawaii and Thailand and achieved the status of sharpshooter prior to his honorable discharge. 

Upon returning home, he took over the family farm in southeast Vernon County and managed a diversified operation into the 1990s. W. J. was proud that his farm was declared a Missouri Century Farm in 2003. In addition to farming, W. J. was involved with Vernon County Pork Producers, as both a member and serving a term as president. He also worked briefly for MoorMan’s Feed and drove a school bus for the El Dorado Springs R-II School District. He finished his work career at O’Sullivan Industries in Lamar, retiring in Jan. of 2004.  

 W. J. and Avril Ann were blessed with four children; Darin Jay, Devin Lee, David William, and Dana Lynn. W. J. enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren participate in athletic, artistic, and agricultural activities. One of W. J.’s greatest joys was his family and spending time with them. He was an avid collector of coins, pocketknives, arrowheads, belt buckles and marbles. He also enjoyed fishing and hunting quail and pheasant.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Avril Ann, of the home; his children Darin of Tulsa, Oklahoma, David and wife Shelley of Marshfield, and Dana of Bolivar; grandchildren Devin and wife Kaila, Emily, Sean, and Anna; great-grandchildren Kamden and Kolten. W. J. also is survived by two brothers, Harold Dean and Leon and his wife Debee; and one sister, Geraldine Marcum, along with a host of other family and friends.  

W. J. was preceded in death by both his parents and one infant son, Devin Lee. 

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, at Ferry Funeral Home in Nevada. Interment will follow in Olive Branch Cemetery in rural Vernon County. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, at the funeral home. 

 In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, in honor of his grandson, c/o Ferry Funeral Home or mail to MDA-Springfield, Missouri, 425 S. Union Ave., Springfield, MO 65802.