Roderick Stuart, 65, of Lockport, passed away on February 15th in Clarence after a long battle with cystic fibrosis. He was a dedicated brother and uncle, a Vietnam veteran and a decorated Lockport Police Officer. Mr. Stuart was born on December 3, 1948, along with his twin sister, to Joseph P. Stuart and Leone (Dale) Stuart of Lockport, who already had another set of twins, and an older son. He grew up on a small farm in South Lockport, which began his lifelong love of farming, animals and tractors, both toy and real.
Mr. Stuart was drafted into the Vietnam War in 1969 and served as a sergeant and a mechanic, working on helicopters. Upon returning in 1970, he had earned several medals of service and an Army Commendation medal. He went on to earn an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice from Niagara County Community College and then attended the Erie County Police Academy, graduating in 1972. He immediately took a patrolman position in the Lockport Police Department.
In 1973, he was patrolling near Main and Pine streets in downtown Lockport when he and another officer spotted a young mother with two children near the canal. The mother left her children and jumped into the canal. Mr. Stuart ran after her, shedding his weapon and jumping into the canal after her. They struggled, but he was able to hold her up with one arm and grab for his partner with the other, saving her life and earning him a commendation.
Acts of bravery continued throughout his career. In 1978, he single-handedly captured two escaped prisoners from the Niagara County Jail. In 1995, he was promoted to Lieutenant, and he was promoted to Captain in 2003. He earned a Certificate of Valor from the governor, the highest honor in the state, for rescuing a kidnapped man. The police department has held onto evidence from one rescue as training for new officers. A man was holding a woman hostage with two knives at her throat, and thinking quickly, Mr. Stuart grabbed the knives by the blades. In the process of freeing the woman, he bent the blades into a "u" shape and broke the handles. Mr. Stuart was a certified breathalyzer operator, a firearms trainer certified by the FBI and the chief firearms officer for the Lockport Police Department. He was a stickler for following traffic laws, often pointing out to friends and family when they committed a minor traffic violation.
Mr. Stuart retired in 2005, allowing him more time to focus on his hobbies of small farming, restoring antique tractors and collecting toy tractors. He showed the antique tractors at tractor shows in New York and Ontario. He once found a dilapidated Porsche tractor in a field in Ontario. He bought it, brought it back to Lockport and restored it. For his niece's wedding, he attached a seat to the back and drove her to the ceremony in her wedding dress.
He was predeceased by his parents and twin sister, Mary (Stuart) Hare of Lockport, and he is survived by three brothers, Joseph Stuart of Lockport, Douglas Stuart of Oshawa, ON, and Charles (Mary) Stuart of Johnson City, TN; a brother-in-law, Graydon S. Hare, Jr.; eight nephews, four nieces and several great nieces and nephews. He was dearly loved by all.
Calling hours will be held from 1-3 PM and 7-9 PM on Friday, February 21st at Prudden and Kandt Funeral Home, 242 Genesee. St., Lockport, and the service will be at 7 PM on Saturday, February 22nd at the funeral home. Memorials may be made in his memory to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of WNY, 1775 Wehrle Dr., Suite 150, Williamsville, NY 14221; Wounded Warriors Project, 4899 Belfort Rd., Suite 300, Jacksonville, FL 32256; or the Alzheimer's Association of WNY, 2805 Wehrle Dr., Suite 6, Williamsville, NY 14221.