Letter to the Editor: Happy 90th Birthday to JoAn Stewart

Gordon Robertson, Stewart, and Ben Huffman in the infield on Louisiana Derby Day | Bryan Krantz photo

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Throughout your life, there are people who make it better.

In 1964, when I moved to New Orleans to live with my soon-to-be adoptive mother, Marie Krantz, the caretakers of the Old Jefferson Downs were Jimmy and JoAn Stewart. The old Jefferson Downs was the converted Magnolia Park Harness track in Metairie (now Lafreniere Park). Jimmy had retired from race-riding and had a trainer's license with some good clients. It was summer and the camp bus would drop me off at the Caretakers Cottage on the grounds. JoAn would babysit me until the business day was over and it was time to go home. Fair Grounds Head Clocker and linemaker Mike Diliberto was another one of her clients. If you are from New Orleans, you knew Mike's dad Buddy as a sports reporting icon in the city. The Dilibertos lived down the street and Mike grew up with JoAn's sons.

After her stint at Jefferson Downs, she found work with the Louisiana HBPA and later at Fair Grounds. She handled Clubhouse Box sales and became the VIP Relations liaison. She was there through at least three regime changes. She raised several generations of racetrackers. Probably her favorites were Jack Van Berg and Billy Mott. You can include Al Stall Jr and Tommy Amoss in the next generation to come along.

Through all the chapters of my life, JoAn has been a constant. She has always been dressed in style and poised in every situation. In racing, she knew all the horsemen and all the customers and everyone felt like they were her best friend.

 

Her group of Lou Ladato, Edna Cardon and Sadie Marcello attended the Kentucky Derby for years and held court with all of their friends from across racing. If you were lucky, they would tell you what horse Bonny Holthus gave them out of Bob's entries that was the most live.

Her 90th birthday was Thursday. She has outlived her three sons and most of her friends. She has been living in suburban Atlanta for nearly 15 years.

JoAn doesn't do tech of any kind: no cell phone, no email, no social media. If you have time, drop her a birthday card or a note at:

JoAn Stewart

473 Silverleaf Lane

Dallas, GA 30157

–Bryan G Krantz, President, Krantz Commercial Services, LLC

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