Samuel Spencer Stewart, Jr. died the morning of Nov. 23, 2021, as promised “at his desk” with a house full of family.
Sam was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 3, 1942, to Miriam Hardy and Samuel Spencer Stewart. His early childhood and summers were spent in Mount Pleasant, Utah. He attended Douglas Elementary, Roosevelt Jr High School, and East High School. He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Northwestern University as an Austin Scholar, served in the Central British Mission in England and Wales, and then went to Stanford University, where he earned a combined MBA and PhD in Finance through the Sloan Program.
He married Pamela Kimball in 1970 and was later divorced. In 1992 he married Diane Stewart, and together they blended their families as well as having two of their own children, creating a large and beloved family. Diane has been his constant support and cheerleader, especially during his recent heart surgery, even as she has spent years urging him to slow down. They are known as an inseparable team within their community.
Sam was a professor of finance at Columbia University and a financial analyst at the SEC before returning to Utah to become a favorite professor of finance at the University of Utah until 2000. In 1975 he started his own company, Wasatch Advisors, and built it into a coveted employer locally and a nationally recognized brand that put Salt Lake City on the map in the investment community. He was always a remarkably humble and kind leader.
After 43 years he left Wasatch to partner with his sons, Josh and Spence, and son-in-law Eric, in founding Seven Canyons Advisors. Sam was widely respected in the investment and business community for his unique investment style, the intelligence he brought to research, his plainspokenness, and lifelong mentorship to young people who shared his passion. He valued and loved both the market and work in their own right and felt blessed to feel indifferent to the money itself.
Together Diane and Sam became deeply invested in nonprofit organizations and in supporting the arts in Utah. They have become giants in the community in a way that will forever change the landscape for organizations, museums, and artists.
Over the last 20 years, Sam and Diane revived his childhood ranch in Mount Pleasant to full working order, including a beautiful home, grounds, and cabins. Working the land and structures became a passion they shared. Sam never tired of walking the landscape of his youth and bringing his family there to love the land too.
One of his great joys was driving down to check on the water and meet brand new calves. He continued to walk the ditches, herd cattle, and move water up until last year.
Sam had a very personal and creative view of the stock market, politics, parenting, faith, and world events, and deeply enjoyed and encouraged that in others. His passion for his work was the throughline of his life, and he wanted others to find that inner drive. He delighted when others excelled—especially in areas he felt were his weaknesses. He loved athletic prowess, music, a sense of humor, and the elegance and beauty Diane brought to their lives and homes.
Sam ran marathons into his 40’s, played basketball into his 60’s, boogie boarded into his 70’s, and walked to work last week. He was a champion napper. He loved cities, central Utah sunrises, mild Palm Springs evenings, and the ocean. He loved good bread, chocolate cake, and almost burnt chocolate chip cookies and french fries.
Above all he loved his family, taking great joy in his children and grandchildren. He was especially proud of Diane’s work and accomplishments in the state and loved nothing more than to stand back and watch her shine. His happiness was easy and deep, and he laughed heartily and lit up a room with his sparkling eyes and contagious smile.
Sam was actively working in his family company, checking in on his cattle, writing his personal history, endlessly working on his own personal and spiritual development, pushing forward in relationships, and traveling and exploring art and the world with his beloved wife. The energy of his emotional heart was boundless even as his physical heart wore down. It frustrated him each and every day that he could not do more. Yet, for us, his essence was as powerful as any of his many routines and activities.
Sam was preceded in death by his parents and his younger brothers, JB and Jim. He is survived by his wife, Diane; his children, Sammy (Justin Gallaher), Reagan, Jamie (Eric Moessing), Josh (Caroline), Spencer, Clifton (LeAnn Harris), Andrew, Hardy, and Hank; and his grandchildren, Audrey, Dan, Peter, Willy, Jack, Willa, Gigi, Sy, Clemmy, Lou, and Eleanor. He is also survived by his brother, John Stewart. He would have also mentioned Zelma and Fariborz Naseri, who have been as members of the family.
Sam’s unfinished epilogue began: “Upon reflection, Mom was my hero. I wish I had realized that while she was still living and told her.” He goes on to say that he picked up her “keep moving forward attitude, and it has served me well.” Amen. Our beloved Sam/dad/grandpa/partner/husband, we hope we told you and we will.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to No Poor Among Us (npau.org), an organization the Stewart Family Foundation is committed to that supports education for disadvantaged women in Africa.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at Federal Heights Ward (1300 Fairfax Road, Salt Lake City, Utah). Visitation will begin at 12 p.m. The service will begin at 1 p.m.
Those who wish to join via Zoom may do so here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83859393571 Please note that a Zoom account is necessary to enter. For those who do not have a Zoom account, when clicking the link, a dialogue box will appear. Click on “sign up” and follow the prompts from Zoom. If there are any questions, please call Larkin Mortuary to walk you through the process. No passcode required. Host will begin meeting 5 minutes prior to services. Access to mic and camera will not be given. A recording of the services can be accessed and downloaded by the end of the day.