Spotlight on Former Athlete: Stewart Blue - Track & Field 1966-69 - May, 2021
Lifelong leadership as track and field official Blue's legacy
He was often the one who created calm in the midst of chaos, or kept comatants up on the rules, or provded notebooks for others in the officiating crew – anything to help a meet go more smoothly so all could enjoy it.
“The sport gave him an opportunity,” teammate Claude Revels said, “and he wanted to give back to the University and the sport of track and field. He gave back to the sport he loved so much.”
When Revels arrived at USL, Blue was an established runner who had won the GSC 440-yard dash as a freshman and was a team leader.
“He was the one a lot of us rallied around,” Revels said. “His personality was outgoing. He never met a stranger. He was the life of the group, always had a smile and had something to say.”
“To the sport of track and field, Stewart Blue was a geat asset and a willing resource,” said Delores Murray, a local T&F official who worked many events with Blue.
“I don't know that there was ever a time when he didn't know the answer to a question we had. He was an encyclopedia of the sport. If you needed an answer, he was always there.”
But Blue went far beyond knowledge.
“He was a great friend," Murray said. “He was one person I could talk to, whether I was officiating or a referee. I would present my case, and he would listen. He made sure we made the right call, but didn't get picky.
“He wanted to make sure it was a good experience.”
“Stewart was the reason I became a track and field official,” said Revels, a distance runner for the Cajuns. “He was fun to be around, but as an official he was no-nonsense. Rules are rules.”
Tell that to Carl Lewis.
The 9-time Olympic medal winner was serving as a special assistant coach for the University of Houston, his alma mater, and was coaching at a meet Blue was working.
Lewis was in a restricted area during an event, and Blue told him he would have to re-locate.
The conversation was, more or less:
Lewis: “Do you know who I am?”
Blue: “Yes. You're a coach at the University of Houston, and you need to move.”
As Lewis moved on, Blue thought to himself, “Did I really say that to Carl Lewis?”
Oh, by the way, Blue worked the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in which Lewis equalled Jessie Owens' four gold medals – 100, 200, 4x100, long jump –achieved in the 1936 Berlin Games.
On that occasion, Lewis could do no wrong. As a coach, he just needed a little gentle guidance.
Blue was always available for meets at USL (UL), but also handled numerous events at LSU, Texas A&M and longtime friend Pat Henry, Arkansas and former Cajun star John McDonnell, as well as Olympic Trials and NCAA meets. And he still found time for high school meets in Louisiana.
It was commonplace for Blue, who worked for Warner-Lambert for years, to load up the car, and drive to A&M or Arkansas to work for the sport that gave him his education.
Everyone in those meets received thoughtful, even-handed treatment. That often included those in the officiating crew.
“Daddy would bring coffee with him to A&M,” said Jamie, a quarter miler like her father who competed for UL's Ragin' Cajun women. “Or, other things – clipboards, paper, walkie talkies, printers – anything he thought they needed, he would bring supplies.”
“He had great generosity,” wife Karen said. “He also had great knowledge, and was always a professional.”
Those traits created a lasting relationship with many he touched. The A&M team coached by Pat Henry made a special stop on a road trip for the entire Aggies team to stop at the Blue household.
It's not easy to back team buses down a residential street for a drop-in, but they wanted a last chance to show their appreciation.
Blue arrived at USL as a converted discus thrower and hurdler from Byrd High School in Shreveport, where state titles were a habit. His lack of vertical leap doomed him in basketball, but he could run.
Coach Bob Cole tapped into that talent at USL, as Blue won the GSC 440 as a freshman and senior and helped the Cajuns to three straight league crowns.
He was part of three school-record relay quartets and earned three All-American honors as a Cajun.
At the Astrodome in Houston in 1969, Blue ran on a USA Federation National Indoors 4x440 relays championship team.
“It was an honor to run for coach Cole,” Blue said shortly before his death. “He was honest with you.”
That honest relationship grew to a father-son type of pairing, and it was Cole who got Blue interested in officiating as a way of giving back to his university and to his sport. Fishing trips with Cole became quite common, and the bond lasted a lifetime.
The end product was someone who earned respect in a quiet way.
“Nobody walked over him,” Karen Blue said, “but he was subtle about it.”
“He had spiritual values that showed when he dealt with people and in everything he did,” Jamie Blue said.
Blue will be among the missing at the next T&F reunion at UL, but will be remembered,
“When I was trying to set up the first reunion – I think around 2009 – I called Stew and he said 'I'm in' and what could he do to help,” Revels said. “Here I was in Florida, trying to arrange something in Louisiana. He was a big help.
“He was a teammate, a buddy and the reason I became an official.”
Click here for the March, 2012 Track & Field Reunion Photo Gallery of the Saturday evening recognition program at the Petroleum Club.
Click here for Stewart's Athletic Network profile.
Click here for story about recent visit from Texas A&M Track & Field Team.
Click here for the photo gallery of the 2009 Track & Field Reunion of the 1969-75 teams.
The AN extends condolences to Stewart's family, teammates and friends.
Click here for the 2007-present annual/chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.