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11/19/09 - NNHS Newsletter -
Rhett Stuart

Albert Rhett Stuart
(18 Sept 1931 - 11 Oct 2009)

Newport News High School Class of 1949

Dear Friends and Schoolmates,   
We have even more sad news, if rather belated, to report today.  Renowned musician/singer/actor     Rhett Stuart, Class of 1949, passed away in San Francisco on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at the age of 78. 

 From the San Francisco Chronicle - 11/15/09 and the Daily Press - 11/16/09:

      Albert Rhett Stuart
    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. - Albert Rhett Stuart died Oct. 11, 2009, from an aortic dissection at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco.

He was born Sept. 18, 1931, in Newport News. Rhett reveled in memories growing up at 6300 Huntington Avenue on the riverbanks of the beautiful and wide James River, which he loved. As a child, he enjoyed spending summer and holidays with relatives in Winchester. His family attended St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Newport News. Like his mother, Rhett was a natural musician and played songs by ear on piano. In his 20s he moved to New York City to become a Broadway singer/actor. He lived there through the decade of the fifties, studying voice and immersing himself in Broadway's heyday of musical theatre.
Rhett Stuart at 25 Rhett Stuart at 77
Rhett interned as an NBC page and loved sharing tales of the stars that came before his desk. In 1961, he came west and played a Zook brother across from his real brother, Arthur King, in a production of Plain and Fancy at the Pasadena Playhouse, before following the coast up to San Francisco. In the early 70's Rhett began to direct his love of rhythm and voice into poetry. He often said he loved nothing more than a blank page and he wrote on a daily basis. Musicality and joy of word play influenced his work, which he read at dozens of San Francisco venues, riffing on reminiscences and daily life. Years of training as a singer and at the National Academy of Broadcasting came through in the mesmerizing smoothness of his lovely, baritone voice. As an artist and person, Rhett was a mentor and an inspiration to many. He made connections throughout the art community of San Francisco. He attended writing workshops at Central City Hospitality House and the Tenderloin Reflection and Education Center, where he also sat on the Board of Directors.

Rhett was a great believer in treating oneself with kindness, just as we would others we care about. Deeply spiritual and philosophical, Rhett helped establish the Tenderloin Self-Help center and was one of the original peer counselors who went to Esalen for training in reflective-listening. In 1989 his book Man OffBeat was published by Freedom Voices, and reprinted in 1990 and '94.

This past decade, Rhett enjoyed creating colorful sketches while continuing to write and play music. He generously shared his work with family and friends.

Rhett is survived by three cherished brothers and their families, William and wife, Pat, Gray and Peggy, and King, formerly married to Toni; nieces and nephews, Susan, Jane, Alice, Tricia, Megan, Danny, Reid, Robbie, Billy, Hal and other extended family.

Rhett was preceded in death by his parents, longtime residents of Newport News, William C. Stuart Jr. and Susan Reid Williams Stuart.

He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure to know him. A celebration of his life and art is being planned and will be announced on his memoriam website at View and post condolences on our online guestbook at

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on November 15, 2009.
Published in the Daily Press from November 16 to November 18, 2009.

November 15, 2009
Rhett and I shared memories and a love for the James River and a commitment to TREC. I will sorely miss him.
~ Harriett Kirk

November 15, 2009

Rhett was a gentle presence in the community. I consider myself honored to have been able to hear many of his stories and read his poems. His love of animals and nature was inspiring to observe.

~ Madeline Behrens-Brigham, San Francisco, California
Contact Me

November 15, 2009

Rhett was one of the first people that I met when I came to San Francisco. He was probably the most enthusiastic person about music and art that Iíve ever met. I would play him a guitar piece that Iíd been working on and he would be utterly engrossed and silent until I finished. He and I went to the opera once and I will always remember the joy in his face, I thought to myself; I havenít felt that way since I was a child. That was Rhett: a man who somehow managed to keep that immense enthusiasm his entire life. I miss him.
~ Dennis Finnegan

November 15, 2009

Poetry was, for Rhett, his prayer, his worship, his devotion, and he became what he worshipped.
My dedication to Rhett, published in "Translations from Silence:"

Thou Art
For Rhett

Thou art I am,
a cathedral you said,
your voice a chorus in a vast song
bright as the flash of sunlight
on an egret as he circles the sky.
Finding that light between my eyes
I gaze in the mirror of the paper
to see your face in the reflection. 
~ Clif Ross, Richmond, California
Contact Me

November 16, 2009 

For the family of Rhett Stuart: We are Anne and Matt Gardner who currently live at 6300 Huntington Avenue, in Newport News. Since purchasing the "Stuart House" in the 80's, the home was on one of the tours of historical homes in the North End. My daughter who lives in Austin, TX, worked at Texas French Bread while establishing in-state residency prior to enrolling for her Master's at University of Texas. One Mrs. Stuart was affiliated with the Texas French Bread franchise and had moved from the area just prior to my daughter working there. Have read much about the Stuart family from Parke Rouse's writings. Our condolences to you all. Anne S. Gardner

~ Anne Gardner, Newport News, Virginia

November 16, 2009 

You may suppose that after 91 years, Elsie (West) Meehan Duval is already dead. While I no longer live at 5308 Huntington, I've remained in Newport News forever, and am now at 19 Hilton Terrace, 23601 if you care to respond. This house was built by Mary Halsey after her husband's retirement, and I'm the 2nd owner. My memories of the Stuart's at 6300 was one Christmas Eve when 4 boys opened the door dressed in matching "Dr. Denim" sleepwear, with the merriest faces ever seen since! Seems too ironic for Rhett, the youngest, to go first. Now Bill, didn't you attend AMA with my youngest brother "Spotty" West, who died in WWII at 18? As once members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, it shouldn't surprise you that my Memorial to your brother will be sent there. God is alive in the midst of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment, because that struggling parish has embraced them all with food, entertainment, and various missions of peace, justice and outreach, despite deficit financing. My heart goes out to all of the Stuarts who remember the C.D. West family, of which I'm the last sibling alive. God Bless You Everyone. Elsie

~ Elsie (West) Meehan Duval, Newport News, Virginia



   Our sincerest sympathies are extended to the Mr. Stuart's family and friends.

From Alex Nicol (February '49) of VA - 11/18/09:

I think I went to NNHS with Mr. Stuart and he was the lead actor in the play at NNHS called, "OUR TOWN". I had a small part in that play as the "milkman". My  memory has failed me on this topic.

Alexander Nicol Class of Feb.1949

   Perhaps so, Alex, but that sounds quite probable.  Thank you so much for your help.

  Y'all take good care of each other!  TYPHOONS FOREVER!  We'll Always Have Buckroe!

                          Love to all, Carol





Carol Buckley Harty

Adagio for Strings

- Samuel Barber
(9 Mar 1910 - 23 Jan 1981)

Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" (sequenced by Bjorn Lengton) midi courtesy of
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA
- 02/10/05
Thanks, Dave!

Greg Olsen Painting courtesy of Ė 02/10/05 and 11/23/08

Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of - 08/12/04

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