Two places are named for Sumner Grant Stewart in the valley — but not the one you might expect.
One is S. Grant Stewart Reservoir and Pumping Station on the far eastern end of Washington Avenue on the foothills of Frenchman Mountain. It was named in 1976, two years after his death. The other is Stewart Market, 2021 Stewart Ave., named by Stewart himself when he opened the grocery store in 1959. His daughter Sara said that although the market is on Stewart Street, he wasn’t directly related to road namesakes Helen and Archibald Stewart.
Sumner Grant Stewart was born in Alamo, Nevada, in 1921, and his family moved about 100 miles south to Las Vegas in 1926. He graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1939 and moved to Reno, where he worked at a grocery store until he enlisted in the Marine Corps a month after the attack at Pearl Harbor. He served 2 1/2 years in the South Pacific and returned to the U.S. in May 1945, said Sara, who worked for Clark County before retiring to Orem, Utah.
Sara’s sister Ginny was born two years after S. Grant Stewart’s return to Las Vegas, and Sara was born two years after that. She said the family lived near Eastern Avenue and Houston Drive in January 1959 when he built the market at 2021 Stewart Ave.
“When he built it, it had windows all along the front,” she said of the market. “They’ve covered those up since and I think they’ve expanded it, but they kept the name.”
A June 2, 1956, Las Vegas Review-Journal article noted that Stewart had filed his candidacy as a Republican for Assembly District 2. The article added that he operated a grocery store and was well-known in community affairs, citing his membership of the city’s civil service board and participation in the Community Chest and YMCA fund drives.
He also served as president of the parent-teacher association at Crestwood Elementary School and the Merchants Division of the Chamber of Commerce, Sara Stewart said, adding that he received the Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award for Las Vegas and Nevada in 1957.
Stewart served on the Boulder Dam Boy Scout Area Council for more than 10 years and received the Silver Beaver, a service award approved by the National Court of Honor for the Boy Scouts of America.
In 1962 he began serving as the director of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. He was elected president of the water district in January 1965 but resigned six months later, when he became involved in city politics.
He served as a city commissioner in Las Vegas from 1965-69. The commission later became the City Council. During the campaign he accused City Hall of “government by crisis” and in office pushed for planning and communication between policy makers and administrative personnel. During his time as a commissioner, the city purchased Twin Lakes Lodge and turned it into Lorenzi Park.
Stewart had suffered several heart attacks before one took his life in May 1974.
At a June 1976 ceremony Catherine Stewart attended the groundbreaking for her husband’s namesake 20 million-gallon reservoir and pumping station. She used the same shovel her husband had used at groundbreakings when he was with the Las Vegas Valley Water District.
Sumner Grant Stewart’s daughter Sara said he received a Silver Star “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with the 3rd Marine Division in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Cape Torokina Area, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, on December 24, 1943.”