Pine Ridge Boys founding member, James Everette Stewart, Sr., of Mooresville, passed away on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Born October 28, 1936, in Clifton, SC, he was the son of the late Ed and Katie Emory Stewart. Jim was preceded in death by his first wife, Jeannette and a sister, Doris Sealey.
He left behind the Pine Ridge Boys in the care of his son Larry Stewart. Today this heritage music quartet continues to inspire family, friends, and fans with their classic quartet sound. This writer thinks “Big Jim” is a proud Dad and quartet man when he sees the continued success of today’s Pine Ridge Boys. And the quartet is proud of his successes too. So much that the 54th Homecoming Gospel Sing honored Jim’s rich legacy.
Jim penned his own eulogy and who is better to tell his story. His heartfelt love and of life, his family and gospel music truly made him a blessed man.
Jim writes, “This is my final time to bid you farewell. I have had a long life and been able to use my God given talent of singing bass since I was seven years old. I never could express myself in words but pray I have reached many people through song.
“I thank God for giving me two good Christian wives, aside from my family and friends. The Pine Ridge Boys Quartet molded my life through the years. We organized in 1963 in Atlanta, GA. The Quartet kept me away from my family when my four children, Denise, Everette, Evelyn and Larry were small. If it had not been for my beloved wife, Jeannette, keeping our family together, I would not have been able to minister through song.
“Jeannette started a tour business after taking a trip to Nashville, TN, where she fell in love with the travel industry. We moved to Maiden shortly after starting the business. Several years into the business Jeannette had a heart attack. The doctors were able to give her a new heart by means of a transplant. This is where I met my present wife, Eloise. She had gotten some people together for a trip to Callaway and Warm Springs, GA. Although Eloise had a full-time job, she started doing some of the tours on weekends and vacations. As time went on Jeannette’s health kept failing and the strain was just too much for us, we were forced to close the tour business.
“When Eloise’s husband, Lawrence, passed away in 1995, Jeannette and I took Eloise home from the receiving and Jeannette made the statement to Eloise: “You know the doctor says I don’t have much time left; maybe you and Jim can get together when I am gone.” So needless to say, I took her advice in 1999 after Jeannette passed away in 1998.
“I acquired four more children, Lynda, Carol, Ken, and Mitch. At the present time we have 21 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. Eloise and I have enjoyed 17 wonderful years together.
“Getting back to the Pine Ridge Boys Quartet, the original members were Wayne Shuford, tenor, Miles Cooper, lead, Charles Burke, baritone and myself as bass. At the piano was Darius Shuford. Of course there have been many changes over the years and many have gone on to be with Jesus in Heaven. In 2012, my son, Larry Stewart, became the owner of the Quartet at that time, and he is making me proud with how he is taking care of it.
“One of the things I look forward to when I get to Heaven is singing again with Pine Ridge Boys Quartet. I pray if there is anyone here today that doesn’t know the Lord, this will be the day you will make that decision.”
During the Pine Ridge Boys’ 54th Homecoming Gospel Sing, a special memorial video honoring the life of the Pine Ridge Boys’ Big Jim Stewart was presented to those in attendance. The personal message from Larry Stewart touched the hearts of family and friends as Big Jim was honored for his contributions to family, friends and gospel music. Enjoy the link honoring Big Jim Stewart.
During the night, CJ Burns was inducted into the Pine Ridge Boys Hall Of Fame. CJ traveled and sang with the group for several years. He sang tenor, lead and even baritone. Always smiling and singing, CJ’s friendship and talents are cherished in the Pine Ridge Boys family.
Inducted into the Pine Ridge Boys Hall of Fame as an honorary member, Mark Cash is truly a man behind the scenes. His constant support to the group, designing and maintaining the website, updating tour schedules and just about anything else needed, is truly noticed and appreciated. He and Larry went to school together and renewed their friendship a few years ago through gospel music. Mark is a huge collector of all styles of gospel music and an avid photographer. But he truly has the taken the Pine Ridge Boys to his heart; he is now family.
Fans from Ohio, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee making a capacity crowd joined the Pine Ridge Boys, Jordan’s Bridge, Troy Burns Family, Carolina Quartet, Crowns of Light and Hearts Afire to celebrate the group’s 54 years in gospel music. First Baptist Church of Inman, S. C., once again hosted the sing with Senior Pastor Dr. Paul Moore hosting and welcoming the many friends and family.
Today the Pine Ridge Boys are riding a wave of excitement that is affecting gospel music fans, young and old alike across the country. With the Classic Artists Records release of “I’ve Got A New Song,” and “There’s A Fountain,” both songs charting and continuing to rise in the radio charts of SGNScoops and the Singing News, the Pine Ridge Boys are expanding their outreach.
Be looking for a Pine Ridge Boys concert near you. You can also keep up with the group on their Facebook page. You just never know what will happen with Facebook Live!
Visit the group’s website for more information, music and news. For scheduling contact Larry Stewart at 305 Water Oak Street, Inman, SC 29349 or call 864-473-8849. Email Larry@PineRidgeBoys.com.
Read the latest issue of SGNScoops Magazine HERE.