LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas is mourning the loss of a local legend and community leader.

Reverend Hezekiah Stewart, a man who changed the lives of many around Arkansas with his knowledge and willingness to give, passed away on Sept. 20. He was a beloved minister, community leader, mentor and friend known across the state.

For the past 40 years, Stewart was dedicated to serving those who need a helping hand, founding the Watershed with Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1978.

The Watershed’s mission statement is “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, cheering the fallen, providing jobs for the jobless, administering to those in crisis and encouraging economic development and self-sufficiency.”

Since 1978, the Watershed has provided food and clothing, utility assistance, transportation, and special outreach services to the disabled and those in need. 

Each year Stewert spearheaded efforts, like giving out Thanksgiving meals and collecting bicycles for kids for Christmas.

Family, friends and community leaders took to social media to share the impact Stewart had. Among them was Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.

“Rev. Stewart positively impacted the lives of countless thousands through his servant leadership and commitment to Christ’s call to love your neighbor as yourself. Under his guidance, The Watershed has done immeasurable good here in Little Rock and across our region for more than 45 years,” the mayor said. “He was a pillar of this community and an example to all of us. My condolences and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

Broadway Joe Booker, one of the voices behind the radio show Power 92 Jams, also spoke on Stewart’s legacy.

“He taught me how to give unconditionally,” he said.

Booker and Stewert’s relationship goes back 35 years, and even when down in health, he said he could always call on Stewart for advice.

“God got a good angle this time,” the radio host said. “You had to really stop him from giving because that was the kind of guy he was.”

The day following the passing of Stewart, Joe said he almost didn’t make it into work Thursday morning but decided to push through because “that’s what Rev would want.”

Booker shared the story about a time he volunteered at the Watershed and thieves stole food out of the truck.

He said Stewart looked at him and said, “you have to have enough for the needy, greedy and the thievey.”

Booker also described a time when Stewart even gave away his own coat.

“I literally saw him give the coat off his back,” Booker said.

Booker said Power 92 will be doing some programs soon to honor the reverend.

“He’s always in my heart,” he said.

Booker said a wake will be held for Stewart at Moody Chapel on Monday, Sept. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. with the funeral following the next day at 11 a.m.