Today, she’s back in Augusta and back on the air with her own 30-minute television show on Comcast, It’s Never Too Late, discussing issues, services and information relevant to senior citizens. Until recently, Stewart had been living on the coast of South Carolina.
“After my husband passed away two-and-a-half years ago, I just really didn’t know what to do with myself. The very first thing that I thought of was, it’s time for me to go home and that’s Augusta,” Stewart said.
Still restless, she decided to start a television show geared toward people her own age, now 76.
It’s Never Too Late is filmed once a month – at Mustard Seed Video Productions in Augusta or on-location – and airs once a week for four consecutive weeks on Comcast. Stewart said that she wants her show to focus on the fun that’s still possible as people get older.
Julie Avrett, her assistant and a longtime friend of her daughters, recalls Stewart’s popularity in the 1970s.
“When I met June, I was 13. We could not go anywhere. If we were walking downtown, it didn’t matter what was going on, what day of the week, if we went to lunch, the grocery store or whatever, ‘Hey, June! Is that June?’ We just got used to it and thought that’s just how it is,” Avrett said.
In 1972, Stewart took over beloved radio personality George Fisher’s television show Carousel on Channel 12 because he no longer had time to do the show. The show was renamed Midday on 12.
“I was the first woman to go on the air doing something other than cooking or exercise,” she said.
Stewart had to prove herself, though, because Fisher had a strong fan base. Three weeks after taking over, she was still getting calls asking if Fisher was coming back, she said.
Ron Colton, former director of The Augusta Ballet, was a guest on Stewart’s show on several occasions. He said that “she always did her research.”
“She was very thorough in what she was doing. When you got to your interview, it was nice to know that she knew the subject quite well,” Colton said.
At Channel 12, Stewart’s first celebrity interview was with Jimmy Dean, country singer and founder of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand.
“He was so funny, and he wrote me a note. He sent me a whole box of sausage,” Stewart said.
Stewart grew up in Charlotte, N.C. until the age of 11, when her father was transferred to Atlanta for his job with Columbia Pictures. Being around show biz, Stewart became interested in acting and studied with an acting tutor.
Stewart studied at University of Georgia’s School of Drama for one year and then traveled to London to major in theater at The Guild Hall School of Music and Drama. After earning a certificate in theater, her acting tutor advised her to attend The New York School of Radio and Television in New York in 1955.
“He said to me, ‘You can always make a living in television, but just make theater your avocation,’” she said.
In 1968, she moved to Atlanta for a job at Bauder Fashion College.
“Then I heard Channel 12 was looking for a woman. They needed someone to take George Fisher’s place,” Stewart said.
During these years, Stewart and Jackie Christian started the Augusta Children’s Theater. They ran the theater for about 10 years, entertaining local children with plays, puppetry and classes.
“We were a good team. We could play off of each other. She was very good at being spontaneous and doing very creative things,” Christian said. “June hasn’t stopped. ”
An illness almost stopped her. After accepting a job as public relations director at Humana Hospital — now Doctors Hospital – 1990, she collapsed in the cafeteria.
“Everybody thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t move. From the neck down, I was paralyzed,” she said.
She was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Then 56, she had to stop working immediately and could only handle part-time assignments. She still suffers from the disorder.
“It is a virus but it’s not contagious, and you don’t get over it. On a good day, you feel like you’re getting over the flu. On a bad day, you feel like you have the flu,” Stewart said.
But experiences like her illness are part of what she hopes to share with her audience in her new show.
“There’s a lot of things that happen to you as you age that you don’t really expect. They were coming like big surprises,” Stewart said. “I thought that would be helpful to people, and also, there are so many resources in the CSRA and a lot of people don’t even know about them. The thing is, I want to be positive about aging because let’s face it, it’s a privilege.”