James Martin Stewart, 87, businessman and naturalist

James M. Stewart
James M. Stewart
Posted: April 24, 2013

James Martin Stewart, 87, of Lafayette Hill, a businessman and naturalist who was a founding member of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, died Friday, April 19, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of complications from a fall.

The longtime resident of Ambler had lived for the last few years at the Hill at Whitemarsh retirement community.

Mr. Stewart devoted much of his life to nature conservation.

"He really felt that God revealed himself in nature," said his son Mahlon. "He was a man of means, but was very connected to the Earth."

Mr. Stewart was born Nov. 29, 1925, in Philadelphia, the son of Roy Stewart and Dorothy Valentine Cassard.

He attended Chestnut Hill Academy and graduated in 1943 from the Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut. Mr. Stewart received a bachelor's degree in economics at Trinity College in 1950.

Mr. Stewart served in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He later attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania before taking a job with Smith, Kline & French, of which his great-grandfather, Mahlon Kline, was a founder.

In 1962, he married Joly Walton. They were longtime residents of Forge Farm in Ambler. They also kept homes in Nantucket, Mass., and Stowe, Vt.

He was a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Whitemarsh.

At Smith, Kline & French, Mr. Stewart was general manager of the diagnostics division and a member of the board of directors. He retired from the division in the 1970s and from the board in 1982.

He was a founder and longtime member of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association. He created the Green Ribbon Trail, a 21-mile recreational area along the Wissahickon Creek.

"That was really Jim's baby," said Carol DeLancey, the association's director of events, "to preserve the land along the creek to act as a buffer to protect the creek, but also to provide some beautiful natural areas for people to enjoy."

Mr. Stewart served on the boards of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Philadelphia Zoo, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Stewart is survived by daughters Lea A. Stewart, Catherine Stewart, and Elizabeth S. Hunter; sons James M. Stewart Jr. and James H. Hunter; six grandchildren; and a sister.

A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Whitemarsh, 610 Church Rd., Fort Washington.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, 12 Morris Rd., Ambler, Pa. 19002-5499.

Contact Vernon Clark

at 215-854-5717 or vclark@phillynews.com.

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