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A Planful Man Makes the Ultimate Gift

September 4, 2017
Stewart Weems
Stewart Weems
Stewart Weems was the dream patient. From the moment he was diagnosed with throat cancer at GBMC's Milton J. Dance Jr. Head & Neck Center, he did all the right things, followed all of the physician's advice and instruction, and was knowledgeable about his condition.

According to his mother and sister, this philosophy didn’t stop at his health.

"When he first went to work, he bought himself a $100,000 life insurance policy," Stu's sister, Valerie Garber, said. "Mom paid it every month for him when he was in the service. That was just the beginning."

Stu passed away in December 2016, and was so grateful to all of the oncology staff that he left a $95,000 life insurance annuity to benefit the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center at GBMC.

"GBMC, that was his love," Val said, "and he gave to his family. He loved his family. But he felt so much had been given to him.

"His relationship with GBMC began with his father (who also had cancer) and it didn’t matter the miles. Stu had a love for his doctors and a deep appreciation for what they did for him."

Stu lived in Glen Burnie with his mother and worked third shirt– 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. – running a huge, printing press at Port City (now Cadmus Communications) in Pikesville. After every shift, he would come home, help his mother running errands, before fixing her dinner. He might not get to bed until 5 or 6 p.m. And then it was back up at 9:30 p.m. to go back to work.

Stewart Weems family
Stewart Weems' mother, Violet, and his sister, Val
"He and my mother had a relationship that not too many moms and sons have," Val said.

"He took care of me," his mother, Violet, said.

"He was definitely a ladies' man even though he never got married. The ladies loved him," Val said. "He had a charismatic personality, but he wanted to do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. He didn’t say he never would, but Mom was No. 1, first priority."

Despite his own health condition, he was loyal to a fault, especially with his family and close friends.

He helped to raise his niece, Lauren, from the time she was 6. He often drove Lauren along with her teammates and friends to games and social events no matter the distance or the time of day, since Val's 100-mile commute made it difficult for her to be there all the time. They called him Uncle Stuart.

Dr. Darrell Jaques treated Stewart's first bout of cancer in 1993. It had spread to his lymph glands and affected his nerves and shoulder. Ever the faithful servant, he continued to work throughout the course of his radiation treatments.

"He made his life as simple as possible," Val said, "and it was his goal to be totally independent and self-sufficient way down the road. He dramatically changed his lifestyle with his first bout of cancer."

Damage caused by the radiation left him without taste, but Stu continued his healthy eating – making himself giant fruit smoothies for breakfast – and walking daily. But despite his best efforts, after more than 22 and a half years in remission, the cancer returned.

Stu had developed a close relationship with Dr. John Saunders, who put a hand on Stu's shoulders and said, "I'm very worried about this." And Stewart knew. The next day, he set up a meeting with his financial advisor. "He wanted everything in order," Val said.

"He and I are so different," Val said. "He is organized and I'm all over the place. But he was my big brother and he always took care of me. And I got into some jams and he took care of me and I greatly appreciated it because I don’t think anybody had a brother like I had with him.

"My brother marched to his own tune, had incredibly high standards and values that he held most of all himself to but others as well and if someone did something for him, he would pay them ten times over. He was selfless in giving things to his friends.

"I have a Christmas card he gave me last year. It's so special. I told him when he and I were doing our traveling and talking, coming from [his attorney's] law office, I said, 'I'll take care of mom for you.' So he wrote on the Christmas card, 'I want to thank you for doing everything that you've done and for what you're doing right now and what you will be doing in the future. … I know you will do it in your own special way.'"

If you would like to support the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center at GBMC or would like to consider making a bequest to GBMC, please contact Senior Director of Principal Giving, John Jeppi, at 443-849-3303 or jjeppi@gbmc.org.

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