Long-time Barrie politician Ron Stewart dies, leaving behind a legacy of accomplishments

Ron Stewart, a long-time Barrie politician who represented the area federally for about a decade, has died.

Ron passed away at home at the age of 95 on Monday. The well-known businessman is arguably best known for his years serving as the MP for Simcoe South, a position he was first elected to in 1979.

"He was one of these, I would say one of the founding fathers that helped build Barrie during the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s," says Shane Stewart, one of Ron's four children he leaves behind. "Such a neat guy, and he definitely left his fingerprints."

Ron was an accomplished businessman before he made his foray into politics. His family is remembering him as a kind and generous soul, skills Shane says served him well during his time in Ottawa.

"He absolutely followed his conscience," says Shane. "He followed the advice he got from his constituents, and above all else, he was honest, and I think those were his greatest characteristics when it came to him being a successful politician."

Ron was particularly proud of a private member's bill he brought forth in the 1980s to make 'O Canada' the official national anthem. While proud of her husband's political accomplishments, his wife Emma says he was the true patriarch of the family.

"I don't know how we are going to get along without him," Emma tells CTV News Barrie. "I think he'd want to be remembered as a kind, giving soul."

His daughter Julie Roper shares those sentiments, who says her father was indeed a people person.

"I think my father would have had a dinner party every single night if he could have," says Roper. "He was gregarious, he loved people, and he was such an optimist. And he lit up a room!"

Ron leaves behind his wife Emma, four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His numerous legacies, from political impacts to familial, are of great comfort to his daughter Donna Craig.

"His politics was very, very near and dear to him," says Craig, who says her dad was always on a search for knowledge with his love of crosswords. "His grandkids, his great-grandchildren, he was a saint to all of us."

His family is also remembering Ron's unique sense of humour.

"In his last few days, mom was testing him, and she said to him, how many children do you have? And he said too many," recalls Roper with a laugh.

After he retired from politics, where he served in various parliamentary secretary positions, Ron remained active in the business community. He also enjoyed giving back, working closely as a Shriner.

"It's hard to imagine this family without him," says Roper. "He was the absolute center, the patriarch. He was such an optimist, no matter what you came to him with."