Ronald A Stewart was born June 12, 1938 to Donald B. Stewart and Pear H. Stewart (nee Young). He attended St. Paul Lutheran grade school. As a student at East Aurora High School, he became interested in photography which opened the door to his career and life- long passion in this field. After high school graduation he attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara CA, and after entering a nation-wide student photography competition won a full scholarship to Rochester Institute of Photography. Upon finishing there he began his own business in the basement of his parent’s home. He enlisted in the Navy and was stationed at Great Lakes in Illinois and during his days off commuting home was able to continue with his photography business throughout his enlistment period. In l966 he opened the Studio on Downer Place, in Aurora Illinois.
His wife, Paulette came to work with him in the Studio after their marriage and in 1980 they opened another Studio location in Wheaton Illinois and in the last 6 years of that business he added a Fine Art gallery. The quality of his portrait and wedding work was well known and the reputation for this was highly regarded by clients and other professionals. Ron was active in the Professional Photographers of America and the American Society of Photographers, where he received the highest accolades and awards. He and Paulette began downsizing the business and closed the Wheaton location in 2009. Throughout all they resided and worked from the Downer Place location until his retirement due to physical health problems in 2013 at which time they moved to Ocala Florida. As the rare disease of spinal cerebellar ataxia took its course Ron was hospitalized with complications from this on May 3rd and spent his last days in hospice passing on June 27, 2021.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Donald E. Stewart, Donald’s wife, Alice Stewart, father-in-law Alva Thornbrugh, and mother-in-law Agatha Douglas, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, John D. and Penny L. Thornbrugh and his niece Kim Stewart Arnold.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years Paulette Thornbrugh Stewart, his three sisters-in-law Barbara Gonzalez (husband Roy), Colleen Thornbrugh Beckwith, Trish Orlovsky, and their families, and his nieces Torey Thornbrugh Cervantes and Alexandria Thornbrugh.
Funeral Mass will be at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala Florida. Donations may be given to Cate’s House one of the hospice facilities of Marion County, Ocala Florida, the Animal Welfare shelter of your choosing, or The National Ataxia Foundation.
Photography was Ron’s gift. It was his belief that any talent that you were blessed with must be used and developed to the utmost. His talent and pursuit of perfection in photography would lead to excellence. The work he did for people kept him active in the Professional Photographers of America thus giving him the images that allowed him to compete. After achieving the Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsmen degrees he continued to enter images in their competitions with a portfolio of what he considered his best and a thesis on the philosophy his work he received their Fellowship degree and became a member of the American Society of Photographers. He also was invited to apply for the Fellowship degree in the British Institute of Professional Photography with similar criteria and received Fellowship with them and also their highest honor in the Portrait category. In l990 he began a special group of like-minded professional photographers –The XXV — with whom he and his wife traveled and expanded their work, shared their visions and cultivating friendships for the rest of their lives.
His photographic reputation expanded around the country and also abroad , where he presented programs and seminars to other professionals and students aspiring in the craft.
The consummate perfectionist he felt blessed to be the person who could capture for others that image needed for whatever purpose to the best that was available from his work behind the camera to the final finishing of the product. Being able to share with all the people who came through the door and become a part of their life… some for only that one time while, for others, it was an on-going gift for him — over the years celebrating with them many milestones: graduations, weddings, anniversaries family portraits and so on. This working friendship and bond he considered as the greatest and true privilege of his career. He loved working with all people, children and animals. His personality and love of his work meshed together to allow people to show their inner beauty. He gave of himself in order that people would show something of their inner self that could be captured through the lens of his camera. In creating something beautiful or necessary with his talent for others to enjoy and love he was making something beautiful for God. Though a life-long Lutheran in his later years decided to become Catholic and was brought into full communion at the time of his death. He used his God-given gift to the very best of his ability. One can’t do any better than that.
May his soul and all the souls of the Faithful Departed Rest in Peace. Amen.