Mary Catherine Stewart, of Orange, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, peacefully at home with her family.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m., Wednesday at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange.

A memorial service will be 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3, at Community Church in Orange with Pastor David Berkheimer, David Wagner and Dennis Powell officiating. Burial will follow at Orange Forest Lawn Cemetery in West Orange.

Catherine was born on March 9, 1942, in Madison, Fla. to the parents of Walter and Eunice Peace Willis. She and her husband, Jimmy Stewart, moved to Orange after their marriage for him to work in the papermill and for Catherine to complete her education at Lamar University in Beaumont.

Although she went to work in public schools, Catherine had a dream and vision for Christian Education. A “passion for Christ, a passion for education” and handing this down “from generation to generation” were forces that drove that vision and her life. In 1977, she became the founder of Community Christian Academy (later called Community Christian School). Pastor, Lyndell Buck, caught her vision and the church board voted to enter into, what was at the time, a pioneer endeavor in Orange. The school opened its doors in August of 1977, with one classroom, 35 students, a teacher, and an aide. In 1980, the school expanded, later to become an ACSI accredited school for Kindergarten through 12th grade. Catherine viewed “each student as a unique person, created by God to live the fullest and most significant life possible.” She was “dedicated to equipping each student to attain the highest standards academically, spiritually and socially.” Catherine served as principal and administrator of the school until her retirement in December 2007.

Catherine is survived by her loving husband of 50 years and seven months, Jimmy Stewart; her daughter and son-in-law, Sheila and Doug Whitten; and her twin grandsons of whom she was exceedingly proud, Tyler and Ryan Whitten. Many of us were benefactors of her love and of deposits she made in our lives.

Serving as pallbearers will be Steve Howard, Dennis Powell, Gary Hinton, David Wagner, Raymond Joiner and Lee Brown.

Serving as honorary pallbearers are the board members who first caught a glimpse of Catherine’s vision and voted to support her endeavor. Those were: Harman Baugh, Doug Shelton, Chester James, Forrest Watson, Sonny Shelton, Norman Scott, Norman Passmore, Lee Brown, and Bill Wright.

Catherine will be remembered for many things but will probably be best remembered for “Do right because it’s right to do right.” She consistently lived that, as all who came in contact with her can attest.

In lieu of flowers, her family has requested that donations may be made to the Catherine Stewart Scholarship Fund at Community Christian School.