Ron Stewart of Payson stepped out his front door on April 3 and headed across the street to his daughter’s home. It was Stewart’s 92 birthday, and due to social distancing restrictions, there would be no party.
Little did Stewart know that in a matter of minutes, he would be greeted by a line of cars filled with long-time friends, all wanting to wish him a happy birthday.
One such friend was Kacie Davenport, who along with her husband and four young children, made signs for the event.
“I grew up with Ron’s granddaughters that lived across the street from him,” Davenport said. “I remember them loving going fishing with him and what an amazing green thumb he had. He always had such an amazing garden. He was always the kind of grandparent (and now great-grandparent) who will get down and play on their level and make them feel special and loved.
“Our kids loved being able to participate in the parade. My husband’s birthday was last week, and our kids were so sad we couldn’t have people over to celebrate. So, when I told them about this, they wanted to help Ron have a happy birthday with lots of people (without getting too close). They helped make a poster to put on the car and were watching the clock, counting down the minutes until it was time to go wish him a happy birthday.”
As the cars drove by, waving and honking, Stewart and his daughter, Melanie Orton, sat on the porch waving. According to Orton, it brought a smile and tears to her father’s eyes.
“We both had tears during the parade,” Orton said. “It was so sweet of the neighbors to do that for him. He was very happy, and it totally made his day. I didn’t tell him beforehand, so he was really surprised. My dad is so very kind and is always helping his kids and grandkids. He’s very family oriented and every night before falling asleep he names all of his grandkids’ and great grandkids’ names. His mind is still very sharp. My favorite thing about him is how much he cares for all of us.”
Stewart was raised in Benjamin and has lived in his house in Payson for 64 years. He taught middle school in Payson for 29 years and also had a farm in Benjamin. According to Orton, he has always been a great family man.
“He is an amazing dad, and he loves to teach kids, especially his own kids and grandkids,” she said. “He was an amazing husband and took care of my disabled mom for 16 years. Living across the street from him has been a huge blessing for me and my family. He has five kids, 26 grandkids and 67 great grandkids and we all love him dearly. He loved the parade and couldn’t believe what his neighbors did for him. He said that he has the best neighbors.” (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)