"I hired Bill in my last year when I was close to retiring," Nehlen said. "Bill was such a great Mountaineer and a great addition to our staff. It was a terrific hire. He did a great job not only for me, but for Rich [Rodriguez] and as a head coach.
"Bill was such a great husband and a great father. Bill Stewart was a great Mountaineer. My heart goes out to [wife] Karen and [son] Blaine."
Radio and television announcer Tony Caridi worked closely with Stewart.
"We had more than a coach-announcer relationship," Caridi said. "He was a friend. Just a wonderful person and ambassador for the state.
"He brought us wonderful memories like the Fiesta Bowl. But he was bigger than football, the way he took care of people. There wasn't a big-time bone in his body. He was the definition of a West Virginian: kind, tough, blue-collar and a truly loving person."
Current Mountaineer assistant Steve Dunlap first met Stewart in the spring of 1973, when both worked on the staff at Navy.
"I'm dumbfounded," Dunlap said. "He was a wonderful man, a very religious man and a true-blue Mountaineer ... When his son Blaine was born, it was the greatest day of his life. He was really proud of him and enjoyed watching him play. He was a true friend of mine."
Mountaineer basketball coach Bob Huggins toured the state with Stewart in the spring and summers on behalf of WVU.
"It's awful, shocking," Huggins said. "He was a great guy with great enthusiasm for life. He loved West Virginia and he loved the people of West Virginia. We lost a great man."
Mike Smith, a Mountaineer fan living in Charleston, pointed to Stewart's pre-game speech of the Jan. 2, 2008, Fiesta Bowl that went viral on the Internet.
"That's how he needs to be remembered," Smith said. "It's a great loss for his family. It's a great loss for West Virginia. It's a great loss for society because he was a great person."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.