93-year-old still ringing after a lifetime of doing good

Author: Amanda Hall

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Age, as the saying goes, is just a number. A Cape Coral man knows that better than most.

Behind the sound of the tinkling bell, you might be surprised to see Bob Stuart camped at the kettle.

“In 93 years of my life, this is one of the things I have most enjoyed doing.”

Sharply dressed in a red plaid jacket, and enjoying every second, Stuart ring the bell for the Salvation Army.

You’ll see even after all this time, his spirit for giving is as strong as ever.

Stuart was born days before the U.S. signed a peace treaty with Germany in the aftermath of World War I. It was August 3rd, 1921.

“I was president of the world’s first Rotary Club.”

In a letter to Stuart, Gary C.K. Huang, president of Rotary International, commended Stuart for his service.

“Year after year, you have made time to help others,” Huang said. “Dedication like yours is what has made Rotary such a powerful force for good in the world.”

Over the years, Stuart has helped dozens of charitable organizations.

Stuart says he knows he’s doing the most good. “This kettle is accumulating money for people who desperately need it.”

We asked him for a favorite memory, or a special gift someone dropped in the kettle in the past. He says he doesn’t have just one, perhaps it’s because no one can say ‘no’ to his smile.

“Every time I’ve done this, everybody that sees me, participates. To me, that makes every one of those days extremely important, and no one of them greater than any other.”

Rotary International honored Stuart for his service last week, proclaiming December 12th “Bob Stuart Day.”

As a close family friend of Stuart’s, the day had special significance for Collene Howe, president of the Rotary Club of Cape Coral North.

“Bob, you have made such a difference in my life. Thank you for your leadership and your friendship,” Howe said, fighting back tears. “I will cherish all the times you sat around our family’s table and shared family meals with us. Thank you for everything you’ve done.”

This year, Stuart moved into Gulf Coast Village, a local assisted living center. True to his passion,
he decided to set up with his bell and kettle right outside.

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