Stewart family invests in health at Okanagan College

The Stewart family of Kelowna is donating $50,000 to support the education of health care professionals at Okanagan College.

The gift will recognize Rosemary and Richard “Dick” Stewart. Dick, a founder of Quails’ Gate Estate Winery and Kelowna City Councillor, passed away nearly one year ago at the age of 94.

According to his son Ben Stewart, MLA for Kelowna West, the gift reflects his father’s passion for education. “My dad believed education creates opportunities for people to lead independent and fulfilling lives,” he says. “He saw education as a transformative investment.”

Dick is also remembered for his ethos of giving back to the community including Okanagan College. In the 1990s, Dick volunteered on the Bold Horizons campaign to create a new vision for Okanagan University College. He later served on the Board of Governors.

Dick was also a founding member of the Central Okanagan Foundation and its president for nine years.

“He was never one to sit on the sidelines. If he believed in something he would get involved. That’s the way he lived his whole life,” says Ben.

Rosemary is happy to see her husband’s legacy honoured. “He did a lot for the city because it meant it a lot to him,” she says.

“Anytime he was asked to go out and raise money he got his shoes on and went. He did it because he loved his community.”


A wine industry stalwart

Dick was born in Kelowna on April 8, 1926, one of four children to Dick Sr and Mary (Whitworth) Stewart. Growing up in a family that embraced others, generosity and support were values Dick upheld his entire life in the community, with his family and at the winery. 

After graduating UBC with a double major in agriculture and commerce, he worked in his father’s business Stewart Brothers Nurseries for ten years before venturing out on his own. A natural visionary, Dick purchased the former Allison Ranch property [photo] on Boucherie Road, West Kelowna in 1956 to fulfill his keen interest in grape growing. He proceeded to plant experimental grape varieties at the site which would go on to produce world class wines. 

Dick believed in the potential of this region and was a driving force in its development. He was a founding member of the Association of British Columbia Grape Growers and member of the Grape Growers’ Marketing Board where he subsequently became its chairman. Interested primarily in grape growing, he encouraged his son Ben to establish Quails’ Gate Winery in 1989. 

Never afraid of new ideas, Dick believed in putting his nose to the ‘grindstone and his shoulder to the wheel’. He was intensely proud that all his children became a part of making the winery successful. He loved to wander the vineyards, wineshop and offices at Quails’ Gate visiting with guests and he fondly referred to the staff at Quails’ Gate as his extended family.