Brian W. Stewart, 49, research scientist, firefighter, volunteer with the Red Cross

December 20, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Brian W. Stewart, a longtime firefighter and Red Cross volunteer who worked as a government research scientist specializing in biohazards, died Friday of cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The former Annapolis resident was 49.

Born in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, Mr. Stewart graduated in 1974 from Bladensburg High School and cobbled together an education in chemical sciences through various colleges and training programs, although he never earned a college degree.

His first stint with a volunteer fire department came at the age of 16, sparking an unquenchable interest in volunteering for the local fire company of whatever town he was living in, from the Laurel area to Harford County and Annapolis.

"That never went away for him," said his sister Vicky Burchett of Thomasville, N.C. "He was just always interested in helping people."

Mr. Stewart worked as a research scientist for Battelle, a global science and technology company that does government contract work and for which Mr. Stewart instructed military personnel, first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and others about dealing with the effects of weapons of mass destruction and chemical and biological warfare.

Stationed most recently in Sasebo, Japan, Mr. Stewart worked on a U.S. naval base, where he taught American and Japanese firefighters and medical personnel how to respond to bioterrorism and how to decontaminate themselves and others in the wake of a chemical attack.

"There were things he couldn't tell us about his job because he wasn't allowed to. The government would tell him things that he wasn't allowed to tell other people," said his son, Bradley W. Stewart of Bowleys Quarters.

After traveling back and forth for work in Japan, Mr. Stewart moved there in November 2003. In January, his cancer was diagnosed and he went to Baltimore, where he was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In addition to his volunteer firefighting, Mr. Stewart also volunteered with the Red Cross for about 30 years, serving as an instructor for CPR and first-responder courses.

He took a great interest in U.S. history and enjoyed lecturing his family about the country's wars and who fought in which conflict. He also played the guitar. His marriage ended in divorce.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at Fort Lincoln Funeral Home, 3401 Bladensburg Road in Brentwood.

In addition to his sister and son, Mr. Stewart is survived by a daughter, Christina E. Trevathan of Havre de Grace; a brother, David G. Stewart of Bowie; and two other sisters, Margie Caldwell of Clermont, Fla., and Lisa Zinna of Holiday, Fla.

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