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Roderick Steward, 91

Roderick Steward, age 91, of Cokato, died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, at the Cokato Manor.

The funeral service will be Monday, Nov. 15 at 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Cokato, with interment in the church cemetery.

Visitation was Sunday, Nov. 14 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato, and will continue Monday for one hour prior to the service at the church.

The Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato is handling the arrangements.

Rod was born May 25, 1919, to Thomas E. and Muriel Fairbanks Steward in Louisiana, where his father was night editor for the New Orleans Times Picayune.

He graduated from Washburn High School in Minneapolis.

Rod’s interest in nature led him to complete a bachelor of science degree in entomology at the University of Minnesota. He then studied at the University of Chicago with a US Army unit that was training to administer post-war Germany, but was not deployed.

He pursued graduate studies in agriculture after the war, and met Marjorie Suzanne Youngquist of Stillwater, MN at the university. They were married in 1947.

Rod became a regional sales representative for Dow Chemical, based in central Iowa, and later established his own firm, Steward Farm Chemicals, in Mason City, IA to help farmers optimize crop production.

He and his family were instrumental in the startup of two Baptist churches in the area.

In 1961, he relocated his family to Cokato, to work as a farm power equipment sales representative. Due to disability, Rod retired in the mid-1960s, but consistently pursued his interests in politics, the outdoors, and Christian ministry while supporting his wife’s elementary school teaching career.

Rod oversaw gradual expansion of the growing family’s simple cabin on Sand Lake in Itasca County, where he served as deer camp chef and photographer.

He oversaw the Republican Party’s booth at the annual Wright County Fair and was a dependable volunteer for many years.

Rod spoke of faith in Jesus Christ and love of God’s creation as his basis for remaining hopeful in the face of adversity. He also distributed copies of The New Testament for Gideons International.

Rod is survived by Marjorie, his faithful wife of 63 years; sons Mark (Lori) of Duluth, Tom (Colleen) of Excelsior, Dan (Ann) of Deerwood, and John (Shelly) of Akeley; and 16 grandchildren: Alec, Andrew and Bonnie; Tommy, Jack and Annie; Grant, Kaitlyn, Garrett, Lauren, Kathleen, Brenna and Mary Elise; and Johnny, Ben and Grace.

His parents, and a brother preceded him in death.