his wife Jeannette, and their two children moved to Salem
in 1968. The Salem economy was still depressed when,
in 1969, he was hired by the Oregon State Fair as its official
sign painter. He was set up in a small house on the
Fairgrounds, called the caretaker's shack. It had been
used in times past for those fair participants who came and
stayed at the fair for its duration.
To attract people
to attend the fair, sharp signage with fresh paint soon had
people talking about coming to the fair. Stewart would
put in 14 hours a day or more to meet fair deadlines, hand-painting
all the signs. Rain often made it difficult get
the paint dry in time to put up the signs. The little
caretaker shack was where the signs were laid out and painted,
then put out to dry, weather permitting. In those days,
signs were all hand painted, there were no computers to aid
in the design.
continued to rent the Fairgrounds shack until 1975, when he
needed to find a location which allowed for the lettering
of vehicles. Stewart had a hand-painting sign business
in Salem for 30 years from which he never retired. At
the time he died at age 73, there were freshly painted signs
to be delivered to waiting customers.