Niceville, FL--The extended Northwest Florida State college community is mourning today, dealing with the passing of a rather popular and successful basketball coach Bruce Stewart. As we told you Monday night, coach Stewart died around 5 pm at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, succumbing to a brain tumor originally diagnosed just over 8 months ago. Coach was surrounded by his wife, daughter and two sons, as well as close friends at the time of his death. Bruce served 13 seasons on the Raiders bench, compiling a 317-82 record, five conference and three state championships. He guided dozens of young men through the program and into four year scholarships and beyond. After his diagnosis in September he took a leave from coaching, then resigned as head coach in March to concentrate on fighting the cancer, again losing that fight last night around five. I spoke Tuesday afternoon with the man who hired Bruce Stewart at then O-W.
NWF Athletic Director
"I guess the best thing you can say Scott is sometimes you have good employees who are average coaches, and sometimes you have average employees who are good coaches. Bruce was an outstanding coach and an outstanding employee at the college. And a very good friend of mine and most everybody that was there. And it's a terrible loss but Bruce fought a good battle."
Dr. Ty Handy
Northwest Florida President
"His illness was diagnosed just a few shorts months after I arrived, but what I saw was a man who genuinely cared. He cared about himself, he was physically fit he was physically active. He cared about his players, was constantly engaging them. He cared about where they were going, what they were doing. And the number of players who keep in touch and remember fondly their years here just sort of demonstrates how it wasn't just what happened on the court."
We'll hear from some of Bruce's players tonight at ten. Here are the arrangements for Coach Stewart, the visitation 6 to 8 Thursday night at Heritage Gardens Funeral Home in Niceville, the funeral at First Baptist of Niceville at 11 Friday morning.