BATH — Stewart H. Day Jr., 91, of Bath, died peacefully on April 20, surrounded by family.
He was born Sept. 29, 1923, in Quincy, Massachusetts, the eldest son of Stewart H. Day Sr. and Frances Day. He grew up in Bath, graduated from the Bath school system, and started his career at Bath Iron Works.
At 19, with World War II in progress, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces and became a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Assigned to the 8th Air Force, he trained in many locations throughout the United States, and then was stationed in northern Africa and England.
Day flew 19 bombing missions over German-occupied territory, and was credited for shooting down four enemy fighters. On his last mission, his plane was damaged by enemy fire and crash-landed in the ocean off the coast of Bordeaux, France. One of only two survivors of the crash, he was wounded, captured by the Germans, and spent 19 months as a prisoner of war at Stalag 17B in Austria.
While a POW, he was the map-maker for the camp’s escape committee. After being liberated by Allied Forces, he returned to the U.S., was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant, and was awarded a Purple Heart and an Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
After the war he resumed his career at BIW, where he remained until retiring in 1988 as a lofts man.
He met his future wife, Teresa Gallant, in 1949. They married Nov. 5, 1950, and built a home on lower High Street in Bath. There, they raised two sons, Gary and Joseph. Day and his wife later made their home on Quaker Point in West Bath, and eventually moved to Graffam Way in Bath.
In the early 1960s, Day and a childhood friend built a recreational cabin on Schoodic Lake, near Brownville Junction. Day and his family spent many memorable vacations at the cabin. He was an avid outdoorsman, and loved hunting and fishing in Maine. He especially enjoyed wilderness canoe trips in the Allagash Wilderness River System with his friend Bud Merry, son Joe, and others.
After his son Gary moved to Alaska, Day traveled there more than half a dozen times. On his trips, he enjoyed catching salt- and fresh-water fish, observing the state’s diverse wildlife, and seeing Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley. He even witnessed the volcanic eruption of Mt. Spur, west of Anchorage, in 1992.
He also enjoyed traveling with his family to sites including Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other national parks, Niagara Falls, and more. Day and his wife also visited much of the Caribbean, and once took a cruise through the Panama Canal, stopping to visit Mexican ruins along the way. They also traveled to Canada, visiting New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where Teresa has family.
Day pursued a lifelong interest in finding and collecting local Native American artifacts. Over the years, he collected over 200 unbroken arrowheads and spear points, as well as broken points, axe heads, pottery pieces and other items he dug himself with the help of friends and family. He eventually donated much of his collection to the Maine State Museum in Augusta.
Day was also a craftsman and artist. He studied taxidermy, drawing and painting, and used his skills to create many animal carvings in wood and horn. Larger projects included a 16-foot wooden boat, canoes, snowshoes and toboggans for his sons.
Day was predeceased by his younger brother, Phillip Day, of West Bath.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Teresa; son, Gary, and wife, Susan, of West Bath; and son, Joseph, and wife Brenda, of Brunswick, and their children, Alyssa and Matthew. Also surviving are Day’s sisters, Tamara Badders, of Largo, Florida, and Lucinda Ballard, of West Point; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Day’s family extends thanks to the doctors and nurses of Mid Coast Hospital, and to the nurses of CHANS who cared for him. The family is also especially thankful for the care and support of Day’s cousin, Steven Day, and of Stewart’s niece, Judy Marquis.
Visitation and a memorial service were held May 2 at David E. Desmond & Son Funeral Home, in Bath. Interment will be at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Day’s name to Bath Area Senior Citizens Inc., 46 Floral St., Bath, ME 04530.