Leland Ralph Steward, 89, passed away peacefully on Nov. 24, 2011, at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, after a short illness and was surrounded by his loving family.

Steward was born Sept. 6, 1922, in Kuling, China, to Albert and Celia Steward, Methodist missionaries. He grew up in Nanking, China, and graduated from UC Berkeley, where he met Beverly Kirk. They married on Sept. 12, 1944, in Rhode Island while Steward was serving in the U.S. Navy. He went on to serve during World War II in military government on Okinawa. He retired as a commander in the Naval Reserve in 1966.

Leland Ralph Steward

Leland Ralph Steward

After the war, Leland and Beverly moved to Santa Barbara in 1946. He was hired by Santa Barbara County as an engineer in the Road Department and was soon promoted to county road commissioner and remained in this capacity for nearly 40 years, until his retirement in 1983.

Steward was dedicated to his family and loved nurturing his children and their families. He and his wife traveled worldwide and developed many lasting friendships.

Steward enjoyed gardening and serving his church, but his primary focus was as caregiver for his wife, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for most of their married life. One of the joys of his life was nurturing his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Steward is survived by Lynn Ebersole (Douglas), Kirk Steward (Kathy), Craig Steward (Maggie) and Zai Yang Li (Cathy). He was the proud grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of nine.

The family wishes to extend their deepest appreciation for the warm and loving care given to Steward by Dr. Michael Bernstein, Dr. Eric Schroeder and the wonderful staff on 5C at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

A private service will be held by the family at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to the Parkinson Association of Santa Barbara, P.O. Box 6254, Santa Barbara, CA 93160.