Samuel H. Stuart, a longtime restaurateur who offered complimentary New Year’s Day dinners as a thank you to the community, died Jan. 16, in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 79.
He was in declining health, his daughter Saundra R. Ezell said. His restaurant, Ann’s Bar-B-Que, opened as usual Jan. 1 to give away hundreds of dinners.
“This was the first year he was not there,” Ms. Ezell said. “We still carried it on anyway, because it’s a tradition we’d always done.”
The practice grew out of the early 1980s economic downturn. “They didn’t have the money to do a lot of things and I wanted to do something to help them because, really, I wouldn’t be in business without them,” Mr. Stuart told The Blade in 1989.
He cooked his ribs over an open charcoal pit, and he made a secret-recipe sauce, available as hot or mild, with a sweet tendency, but “not overly sweet,” his wife, Joanne, said.
“He was a good cook, a chef. I think it was a God-given talent, because he could cook anything.”
He named Ann’s Bar-B-Que after his wife. The couple at one time had four restaurants in Toledo and one in Monroe. He was involved with the remaining location on North Hawley Street since 1964. It is operated by his son, Samuel “Darnell” Stuart and daughters Saundra and Antoinetta Ezell.
In the late 1970s, he joined with the Rev. Harvey Savage, founder of the Kitchen for the Poor, for the earliest local Martin Luther King, Jr., birthday commemorations.
Mr. Stuart was born March 11, 1933, in Hope, Ark., to Ethel and Sam Stuart, Sr. He attended Libbey High School.
Surviving are his wife, Joanne Stuart, whom he married July 7, 1963; sons, Edward D. and Samuel D. Stuart; daughters, Deborah R. Stuart, Saundra R. Ezell, and Antoinetta E. Ezell; 26 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Mount Nebo Missionary Baptist Church, with a family hour and wake services at 10 a.m. Arrangements are by the C. Brown Funeral Home.
The family suggests tributes to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Kitchen for the Poor.