EveryStep Provides Support to Hall of Fame Horseman Gerald Stuart

Pictured above: Bea and Gerald Stuart

Gerald Stuart has spent most of his life around horses. From farming with them as a child, to working and showing them as an adult, Gerald has loved and tended to horses.

“When Dad was a kid, they still farmed with horses. His family didn’t get a tractor until he was 10 or 12 years old,” says Gerald’s son, Jim. “When I was growing up, we showed quarter horses. Then, in the mid-80s Dad bought his first team of draft horses and I bought a pair two or three years later. That’s what we’ve been doing since then – showing them and farming with them, playing with them and parading them.”

Draft horses became a family affair. Together, Gerald and Jim have attended local county fairs, parades and special events that need draft horses. “There’s a hand corn picking association that asks for teams to come in and pull wagons while they pick the corn by hand. We’ve done that for over 20 years. We also go to plow days, where the horses pull the plow.” In 2010, Gerald was inducted into the Iowa Draft Horseman’s Hall of Fame.

In 2014, Gerald had a stroke that affected his right side and his speech. “He doesn’t have any control over his arm, but if we get that line in his hand, he’s got a good grip and he can still drive the horses and keep them in line,” says Jim. “He has trouble with speech, so he can’t really carry on a conversation with me, but when he’s driving horses, he can talk to those horses.”

The EveryStep Hospice team in Osceola started providing care to 86-year-old Gerald in his home in February of 2022. “They’ve really helped us out,” says Jim. “My mom has quite a load. My younger brother, who’s disabled, lives at home and Mom takes care of him and Dad. It just got to be too much.” The EveryStep Hospice team in Osceola provides nursing and medication checks, and helps with tasks like bathing.

The Stuarts wanted Gerald to be able to continue a 35-year tradition at the Iowa State Fair in August. “It was all our goal to get Dad able to get in the wagon and drive his team at the Iowa State Fair again this year,” says Jim. “He’s too weak to get in the wagon, but we were able to help him get on a sled with a bench seat and he was able to drive again this year. It made us all feel good.”

A lifelong resident of New Virginia, Gerald has lived within 5 miles of his home all his life. His children and grandchildren are all close-by as well. Having family near has helped the Stuarts navigate the residual effects of Gerald’s stroke, but the EveryStep Hospice team in Osceola has also given the family peace of mind.

“It’s been excellent. They’ve been really good,” says Jim. They let us know what’s normal and what’s not. Sometimes we worry about things that we don’t need to worry about and that puts stress on Mom, so it helps to have somebody helping. It takes some of the burden.”

EveryStep Hospice helps those living with a serious illness make the best out of every day. Most hospice care is provided through in-home hospice services; however, when a patient needs around-the-clock hospice care to manage their pain and symptoms, EveryStep’s Hospice’s Kavanagh House in Des Moines is available.

If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946. Or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at https://www.everystep.org/find-care. EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.