By Nelson A. King
Dr. Waldaba Stewart, a Panamanian
born former New York
State senator, community activist
and educator, died on Jan. 1
in Manhattan, according to Rey
Allen, president of the Brooklyn
based Southern Diaspora
Research and Development Coalition
(SDRDC), of which Dr.
Stewart was co-founder.
Allen said Dr. Stewart – who
worked closely with the late Dr.
George Irish at the Caribbean
Research Center at Brooklyn’s
Medgar Evers College and who
was also an adjunct professor in
the Department of Social and
Behavioral Science at the college
in Crown Heights – died in
Manhattan of natural causes.
He was 85.
“Community, tradition, heritage
and social justice were the
hallmarks of Dr. Stewart’s public
and private life for more than
four decades,” said Allen in a
statement on Friday.
He said Dr. Stewart, who had
represented the 18th New York
Senate District in Brooklyn, was
born on Jan. 15, 1936, in the
Panama Canal Zone, the eldest
of six brothers and one sister.
Allen, also a close friend of
Dr. Stewart, said Dr. Stewart’s
father was a teacher, a minister
and a supervising administrator.
He said the young Stewart
graduated ahead of his peers
with an associate of arts degree
from Canal Zone Junior College
in 1955 and studied governmental
science at Panama National
Still a teenager, Allen said
Stewart migrated to Brooklyn,
and received a bachelor of arts
degree in languages from Pace
University in 1963, and a master’s
degree in education from
Hunter College in 1966 – all
while working nights at Bathe
& Co., a brokerage firm.
Stewart then received his
Ph.D. in economics from Union
Institute and University.
Allen said Dr. Stewart taught
public school from 1957 to 1966,
and, in 1968, with his brothers
by his side as campaign managers,
Caribbean L 18 ife, JANUARY 21-27, 2022
he was elected by a landslide
to the New York State Senate,
“where he was honored to serve
for four years.”
As senator, Dr. Stewart served
as New York State chairman of
the first national Black political
convention held in Gary, Indiana,
He said Dr. Stewart also
sponsored legislation in health
for “the improvement of quality
care for the poor and underserved
communities in Brooklyn,
through the creation and development
of the Mid-Brooklyn
Health Association, Inc. and the
Mid-Brooklyn Health Society.”
After his tenure as New York
State Senator, Allen said Dr.
Stewart became an adjunct professor
at Medgar Evers College.
“Committed to his community
and public service, he founded
the Mid-Brooklyn Health Association,
which delivered healthcare
services to the neighborhoods
Crown Heights, Fort Greene and
Williamsburg,” Allen said.
“He was also integral in the
Dr. Waldaba Stewart. Rey Allen
campaign for the $100 million
restoration and modernization
of Kings County Hospital, completed
in 2002,” he added.
Allen said Dr. Steward was
also a founding member of the
corporation that converted the
Brooklyn Navy Yard into an
Funeral service was held at
St. George’s Episcopal Church
in Brooklyn, on Jan. 13.
Dr. Waldaba Stewart, former
NY State senator dies at 85
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