Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Longtime UMD hockey superfan and an icon in the Northland hockey community, Dick Stewart, passed away on Monday night at the age of 92.
Stewart has been a season-ticket holder witht the UMD men's hockey team since the team played home games in the old Duluth Curling Club, and he was attending games as recently as this past season.
The 1937 Duluth Central graduate owned for parts of seven decades Stewart's Bike and Sports, a store that was first opened by his father, Richard.
For guys like Cloquet native and current UMD assistant men's hockey coach Derek Plante, the memories of Stewart running the store are still fresh.
"Growing up in Cloquet, I remember going to his stores and just spending hours in there with all the hockey stuff," Plante said. "He treated us great when we'd come in there, even though he was a Duluth East guy and he had the Duluth Stewart's teams that I hated playing against. He was an ambassador for hockey in Duluth."
Stewart's passing came just nine days after that of his wife, Maxine, whom he had married in 1949.
For Hermantown native Adam Krause, no one will ever fill the shoes of Dick Stewart when it comes to being a fan of UMD hockey.
"I remember him forever, as a younger kid watching him and thinking how cool it was," Krause said. "Then I got the chance to play, and to see him still doing it was a pretty special moment. It's really sad. Duluth lost a really good person."
Krause's sentiments were widely echoed by his UMD teammates.
"He was a remarkable man," former UMD captain Jack Connolly said. "I rememeber playing for the East program as a peewee, and it was just a blast to play for that team knowing it was sponsored by Stewart's, his store with everything he had done."
"Everybody, not only in the UMD program, but in the surrounding area, respected him and what he stood for," UMD senior alternate captain Keegan Flaherty. "It was just awesome, everything he did. He loved youth hockey as well as UMD hockey, so it's sad to see him go."
Funeral arrangements for Stewart have not been finalized, but it is expected to be held in Duluth before the end of the week.