Stewart, Kenneth Donald (1911–2006), surgeon and evangelist, was born 9 October 1911 at 26 Mountshannon Road, Kilmainham, Dublin, the second of at least two sons of Donald Kenneth Stewart, a commercial traveller, and his wife Jeanie (née Mackay); both his parents were Scottish-born presbyterians. In 1930 he won an entrance scholarship in Irish to TCD, graduating BA with honours in French and Irish. That summer, while attending the great annual evangelical convention at Keswick in Cumbria, Stewart received an inspiration 'which changed the course of my life': that he should study medicine and use his knowledge to help people. He then discovered that there was a Trinity scholarship for arts graduates who wished to study medicine, and successfully applied for it.
During his third year of medical studies, he joined the Oxford Group (later known as Moral Re-Armament, or MRA (1938–2001), then renamed Initiatives of Change), a fervent, widely publicised, and sometimes controversial evangelical movement founded in the 1920s by an American Lutheran minister, Frank Buchman (1878–1961). Stewart's elder brother Finlay was already a member, and Kenneth's interest was aroused when Finlay approached him to apologise for past antagonisms. (The necessity of overcoming resentment and grievances, and the practice of publicly confessing one's faults, were major features of MRA.) Stewart benefited from its insistence on absolute moral standards and self-discipline, which helped him to give up smoking. MRA was interdenominational; Stewart remained a presbyterian. After graduation, he became a house surgeon in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Samaritan Hospital, Belfast, but resigned in 1940 to volunteer for military service with the Royal Army Medical Corps.
He was originally assigned to look after the health of 1,000 soldiers guarding an ammunition depot in the Trossachs (north-east of Glasgow) before volunteering for the Mediterranean theatre in 1942. He became a captain in the British 8th Army, initially based in North Africa, and then second-in-command of a beach landing medical unit (two officers and fifty RAMC personnel) in the invasion of Sicily (July 1943). His unit landed at Cassibile near Syracuse and was immediately involved in treating battle casualties under fire. After the Axis forces evacuated Sicily, Stewart and his unit followed the fighting up the Italian peninsula in September–October, from his landing-point at Reggio Calabria (on the 'toe' of Italy) to Taranto (at the base of the 'heel'), where he was appointed port medical officer before being placed in charge of an ambulance train evacuating wounded from the front at Termoli to the ports of Bari and Brindisi. He served in Italy until February 1944, when he was recalled to Britain to draw on his experience of contested landings to help the British 2nd Army prepare for the D-Day landings.
Stewart himself landed in Normandy on 12 June 1944 (six days after the initial invasion) as commander of a field ambulance company, and coordinated the aerial evacuation of battle casualties from his section of the front to Britain for treatment. He was promoted to major, and his field ambulance company accompanied the Allied forces across northern France into Belgium and the Netherlands, where he spent two months at the front which had stabilised along the River Maas (Meuse). He took part in the crossing of the Rhine on 22 March 1945, and was in Utrecht with his unit at the time of the German surrender on 7 May.
Stewart and his ambulance company were then sent to Berlin, where he was profoundly moved by the destruction caused by Allied bombing and by the suffering of the civilian population. He oversaw medical care for Allied troops and civilian staff attending the four-power summit conference in Berlin, received the MBE in 1945, and was mentioned in dispatches. He was discharged from the army on 31 December 1945. His experience of the destruction inflicted by war, and MRA's concern with promoting reconstruction and social harmony, led him to work as an MRA volunteer in Italy rather than return to medical practice in Britain. He spent ten years with an eight-to-ten member MRA group in Milan, visiting factories, meeting workers and employers, and taking delegations from both sides of the labour movement to meetings at the MRA conference centre in Caux, Switzerland (opened in 1946). At a time of intense rivalry between the Italian Communist Party and the Christian Democrats (backed by the Vatican), these MRA efforts could not escape controversy: MRA was widely accused by leftists of pursuing a right-wing political agenda, and Stewart's group in Milan were originally suspected by the catholic authorities of being protestant proselytisers or promoters of religious indifferentism. (Relations between MRA and the catholic church improved markedly in later years, partly because MRA's activities led some communists to become catholics. Cardinal Franz Koenig, archbishop of Vienna, became a frequent visitor to Caux.)
In 1960 Stewart married Dorothy Page, whom he had first met in Belfast in 1940; she joined his work in Italy for the next five years. They had no children and she predeceased him.
After leaving Italy in 1965, Stewart was a GP for twenty-five years at Kingussie in Scotland, then for ten years at Tarporley, Cheshire (combining his practice with working as medical attendant to MRA's nearby conference centre at Tirley Garth). The Stewarts retired to Abbeyfield House, Bangor, Co. Down, where they nursed five members of Kenneth's family through terminal cancer. Kenneth Stewart died in Galway on 11 June 2006, survived by a sister-in-law, a nephew and three nieces. At his death he was the oldest surviving Trinity scholar.