Relaxed, cheerful bookseller happy to share

Ross Stewart.
Ross Stewart.

Over many years the name Stewart has been synonymous with book selling in Central Southland, Gordon Stewart having Rowan's book store, which 30 years ago his son Ross took over, developing it into Winton's Paper Plus, one of the first stores in that national franchise.

Ross and his wife Kath Boyle spent time in the North Island after they married, Ross working for South British Insurance accepting postings all over.

His near legendary skill, accuracy and speed with figures, meant he was in demand.

But when his parents, Gordon and Dorothy, wanted to retire to Central Otago, they came home to Winton, took over Rowans and set to making it their own, moving the business to a bigger store down the street, changing its name as in 1983 Ross became the owner- operator of Winton's Paper Plus.

Ross enjoyed belonging to a franchise, valuing the contacts that brought.

Wanaka colleague Chris Lumsden said Stewart was a good mentor. "He had ideas, could show how they worked and was prepared to give time to help others. A skilled businessman, he was ready to show others [the] way to go."

His main street store is an anchor business in Winton, in the heart of the town, a main street store with bank and post facilities - Lotto too.

His family knew the other side of that, recalling Christmas mornings with dad at work preparing for Boxing Day sales.

Retail is a tough task master but it was the world that Ross grew up in and the one he loved, his demeanour, cheerful whistle and relaxed banter with customers and staff a feature of his store.

Well known for his love of bowls and for the skill that earned him trips playing overseas and cupboards full of trophies, Ross kept up his love of sport and never lost his enjoyment of working with figures.

When illness struck in October he reassured his staff that he'd be back on deck in the new year.

That was not to be. He died, in his 64th year at Hospice Southland on January 24, and was laid to rest in Winton.

After weekending at Riverton for some years, Mr and Mrs Stewart built their home at the Rocks eight years ago, enjoying the seaside lifestyle with their daughter Paula, son Dean, their partners Aaron and Helen, and grandchildren Matt and Edmund.

The Southland Times