We were deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of our dear friend and committed supporter of Surrey Hospitals Foundation, Chick Stewart, at the age of 95. Chick was not only a visionary business leader but also a philanthropist with an enormous heart. Together with his beloved late wife, Marilyn Stewart, Chick played a significant role in our mission as one of our most generous donors. In 2017, the Stewart Family gifted Surrey Hospitals Foundation the Czorny Alzheimer Centre. This facility, now operated by Fraser Health Authority, has touched the lives of countless dementia patients and their families and friends.
Chick was a wonderful man with a big heart and even bigger dreams. Don Hickling, our former Vice President of Leadership Giving, thought of Chick as a great man with an unfailing sense of optimism that “it can be done”. Chick believed that anything was possible, and that’s how he lived his life.
When Marilyn’s father battled Alzheimer’s, her dad spent his time in a psychiatric ward. There wasn’t a suitable place for Alzheimer’s patients at the time, so Chick and Marilyn decided to create one. In 1997, they purchased the land and invested 10 million dollars to build the Czorny Alzheimer Centre. It took them years of hard work and determination, but the centre finally opened in 2007.
Czorny Alzheimer Centre was built with a profound thoughtfulness and a special touch of love. They conducted extensive research before embarking on the construction. Marilyn and Chick’s goal was to establish a comfortable, nurturing and home-like environment with a small number of residents, believing it could have a positive effect. The centre also provides access to the outdoors which isn’t always feasible in other facilities. To this day, the Czorny Alzheimer Centre is the biggest gift to Alzheimer patients in Canada and a testament to the compassion Chick and Marilyn felt for its residents.
Marilyn’s parents, Michael and Nancy Czorny, after whom Czorny Alzheimer Centre gets its name.
Marilyn and Chick’s shared vision has enriched the lives of many Alzheimer’s patients and their families, offering comfort and support in their times of need. Despite leaving behind a remarkable legacy, Chick was a modest and affectionate individual. In the words of Dorrie Ferster, the founding director of Czorny Alzheimer’s Centre, “He was just this very non-pretentious person who would show up at the mailbox in an old truck, but yet he left a big legacy like this.”
Chick had an amazing partnership of 58 years with Marilyn. They held profound respect for one another and depicted harmonious collaboration. Their union was an exemplification of love, compassion, and enduring commitment.
Chick and Marilyn were an unstoppable force. Their extraordinary impact continues to shine brightly, even in their absence. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Stewart family and all those who had the privilege of knowing this incredible couple. Chick’s memory will forever live on in the lives that he and Marilyn touched and the transformative work they accomplished.