LSCO loses tech director to coronavirus
Last updated 5/14/2020 at 12:56pm
Dennis Ferrell was retired when Chris Stewts recruited him to a new job as an instructor at Lamar State College Orange.
“Everyone, when you start a new job, needs a mentor and even though I was 70 at the time, Chris was my mentor,” Ferrell said.
“He really helped me. We worked together a lot and I appreciated him. I honestly don’t know how we’re going to get by without him.”
Stewts, 68, died May 3 at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont from complications from COVID-19, according to family.
He left behind a wife, Ruth, with whom he raised four children. He has eight grandchildren.
The Port Neches resident had been a part of the LSCO faculty for more than 20 years and was the school’s Director of Instrumentation, according to the LSCO website.
“He was one of the most generous, loving, cared about his students,” Dr. Thomas Johnson, LSCO president said.
“And he was so fired up about us expanding our industrial technology programs and putting a real emphasis on instrumentation and process tech and he was excited about the future.”
Stewts was an Air Force and Vietnam veteran who worked at many industries, including NASA, Bayer and Lanxess between leaving the service in 1976 and hiring on at LSCO.
The college reported Monday that two employees who had been in contact with Stewts had self-quarantined for 14 days and that areas in which he worked had been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
The campus has not held in-person classes since March 13.
“He was true to his profession and wanted his students to excel in the profession,” said Gina Simar, recently retired Dean of Health, Workforce and Technical Programs at LSCO.
“He had a demeanor about him that motivated students to learn. He was always looking for ways to enhance student learning. The school had just purchased and installed new equipment for hands on learning.
“He will certainly be missed.”
Ferrell has filled in the past month and will be taking over Stewts’ classes.
“A lot of his students are upset,” Ferrell said. “He was the type of guy that would give students every chance he could, as long as they were willing to try.
“He’d come in on Saturday to help students with their labs.
“One person told me anytime they had a problem, with school or not, he was always willing to help out. I never heard anyone say anything negative about him.”
Another coworker, Karolyn Doiron, administrative assistant to the dean, summed Stewts up for many.
“He was a good friend,” she said, “and a very good man.”