Metro-East News

A 39-year veteran East St. Louis police officer loses battle with cancer

Lenzie Stewart
Lenzie Stewart

A former East St. Louis police chief, who had a lengthy fight for his life due to cancer, has died at home.

Lenzie Stewart, 67, of Belleville died at 1:50 a.m. Saturday, according to his wife, Debra Stewart. They were married for 10 years.

“He was a good husband, a good father and a good pa pa. His family and friends will miss him, I know. But I think I will miss him the most. I cared for that man day in and day out. He was a good, good man,” Debra Stewart said.

“Lenzie never missed the birth of any of his grandchildren. And, he always had them with him. He loved children,” she said chuckling as she recalled memories.

“Lenzie was also a fine police officer. His motto was, ‘Respect people no matter who they are.’ This was his motto even when making arrests. He believed that in order to get respect you must give respect,” she said.

Doreen Hoosman, an administrator on the East St. Louis police and fire pension board, said she has known Stewart since high school.

“He went to East St. Louis Senior High School and I went to Lincoln High School,” she said. “He was always nice. He always wanted to help people, especially youth. He was a good policeman, too. He was very good at solving cases and helping young people. He worked with the former Delta drug unit.”

Hoosman said Stewart always gave back to his church. “He worked security there. No one there had to worry about anyone messing with Mount Pisgah because Lenzie was there,” she said.

Stewart was hired March 2, 1972, and he retired from the East St. Louis Police Department on May 25, 2011. He served as police chief from April 2009 until his retirement.

The current chief of the department, Jerry Simon, who is a 23-year veteran of the department, said, “The East St. Louis Police Department grieves the passing of retired Col. Lenzie Stewart. Chief Stewart served the police department with unwavering commitment, integrity and dignity for 39 years. It was an honor to serve under his leadership. The East St. Louis Police Department mourns along with his family and friends.”

Johnny Scott, former president of the local NAACP chapter and a former commissioner with the East St. Louis Police and Fire Board, called Stewart “a very effective police chief.”

“As a commissioner, I worked with Lenzie Stewart. I had high respect for him and his work with the police department. He served the city well during his time,” Scott said.

A wake for Stewart is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Officer Funeral Home. A visitation is set for 9 to 10:50 a.m. Saturday at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church at 1111 Dr. R. B. Lyles Drive in East St. Louis.

Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503, @carolynhendri18