Ronald L. Stewart of Blue Bell, Pa., and Vineyard Haven, died on August 26 at his home on Martha’s Vineyard. He was 77. Mr. Stewart was a senior business executive and leader in the pharmaceutical industry for 34 years. He died in his sleep; his death was sudden as he had not been ill.
Mr. Stewart retired in 1999 from Merck, a global pharmaceutical manufacturer. At that time, he was executive director in charge of long-term care, marketing and sales. Before joining Merck, Stewart worked for 24 years at SmithKline Beecham — now GlaxoSmithKline — in Philadelphia. There he held positions in marketing, national accounts, government affairs and human resources, eventually rising to vice president of corporate accounts.
Born in Philadelphia, he graduated from Northeast High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Cheyney University and a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Stewart served in the Marine Corps before taking a job as an elementary school teacher in the Moorestown Township public schools. He lived in Moorestown for more than three decades before moving with his family to Blue Bell, Pa., in 1995.
He graduated from the Harvard University School of Public Health’s executive program in health policy and management, and was one of the first non-lawyers appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court District Ethics Committee.
He was a member of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacists, American Pharmaceutical Association, American Health Care Association and the Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.
Before he left Merck, Mr. Stewart was given a lifetime achievement award for his contributions.
He also received many awards for community service. The New Jersey General Assembly honored him for his work as chairman of the board of directors of Family Service of Burlington County. In 1999 he was named to the Philadelphia Northeast High School Wall of Fame.
“His larger-than-life presence, formidable intellect and practical sensibilities” inspired all who knew him, his family said in a statement.
Mr. Stewart enjoyed traveling with his wife, the former Ardelia Purnell, whom he met at Cheyney. For their 50th wedding anniversary, the two went to South Africa. Earlier, they spent time in Brazil, Italy and France.
But he was most at home sailing, golfing and puttering in the yard at his home on Martha’s Vineyard, where he spent more than 25 happy years with friends and family. “The day before he died, we talked about how much we loved the Vineyard,” said his wife. “I’m grateful that he spent his last day in the place he loved most.”
Besides his wife of 53 years, he is survived by a son, Maitland Stewart of Montclair, N.J., and a daughter, Adriane Stewart of Brooklyn, N.Y.; his mother, Mozelle Stewart; his sister, Brenda Stewart; his daughter in law, Elise Boddie, and his grandson.
A funeral service will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, at Salem Baptist Church in Jenkintown, Pa.
Donations may be made to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 40 Rector street, Fifth Floor, New York, N.Y. 10006, or by visiting naacpldf.org.