After tending to her parish for seven years, BJ Stewart said she and her husband, Bill, are ready to spend their golden years soaking up sun rays in Myrtle Beach.
Stewart has also staffed the nurse's office at Indian Lake Central School for the last two years, and she and her husband volunteer time with the local ambulance service.
The Methodist churches Stewart has tended to in Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake were without a pastor for nearly a year before she took over.
Meetings are being held seeking a replacement, said Stewart, and some members of the parish have been trained to lead services if they can’t fill the spot immediately.
Stewart said she’ll be on the road to the Atlantic coast at the end of October, and her last planned service is Oct. 23.
Parishioners have joked that they plan to pack some North Country snow in dry ice and mail it to her.
As she aged, friends told her that she’d know when the time is right for retirement. At first she scoffed at the idea, but now she’s a believer.
“I have not felt like this since I answered the call to join the church,” she said.
The church had to cut back on her salary and hours two years ago, said Stewart.
Right when she was looking for more to do, the school nurse position opened up. She’d substituted that position before, and had worked as a pediatric nurse before she began to focus more of her time on the church. It was a perfect time for her, said Stewart.
The school has someone else lined up to staff her old office, she said.
Stewart and her husband have also worked on the local ambulance squad. She was snowed in at the station during the Valentine’s Day storm of 2007.
She even delivered a baby in the ambulance. A woman went into labor at the Indian Lake Stewart’s shop. The ambulance made it to the Stewart’s shop in North Creek before the baby was delivered.
“I’m going to bring with me so many positive memories,” she said.
Church members held a farewell following Stewart’s final service at her church, and fellow ambulance volunteers held a potluck Oct. 1 at Jane & Cathy's Restaurant in Indian Lake.