By Stephen McKinley
The remains of Belfast-born World Trade Center victim Michael Stewart will be cremated and his ashes divided among the members of his family who had disputed in a New York court over how his body should be interred, according to his sister Janet Stewart.
Stewart’s remains were recovered from ground zero in March, and subsequently, his ex-wife in New Jersey, his companion in Brooklyn and his family in Northern Ireland had disagreed over their fate.
Stewart is survived by his ex-wife, Diana Stewart, and two sons, Franco, 14, and Eamon, 11. The couple divorced in 1998. He is also survived by his mother in Ballyclare, Co. Antrim, and two sisters in Belfast. Until he was killed on Sept. 11, Stewart had lived in Brooklyn with his partner, Kristen Galusha-Wild, and their 2-year-old son, Liam.
Diana Stewart told the Irish Echo in April that she wanted to bury the body in New Jersey in accordance with a wish expressed by Michael to his son Franco.
Both Galusha-Wild and Michael Stewart’s sister said that they wanted Stewart to be cremated and the ashes separated between the three sides of the family. The matter went to court when authorities discovered the conflicting family wishes after the body was recovered.
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Speaking to the Echo on Tuesday, Diana Stewart said that she “did not want to give too much away at the moment,” but that the matter had been resolved to her satisfaction, and that Stewart’s body would not return to Northern Ireland “against his wishes.”
Stewart’s remains had been in Campbell’s Funeral Home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side since they were recovered.
Stewart, who was 42, was born in Belfast. He immigrated to the United States in 1981 and was employed in banking and finance over the years, most recently with Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of 1 World Trade Center.
Stewart’s sister Janet, in Northern Ireland, said her family had tried to come to an agreement about the body and had concluded, with Galusha-Wild, that cremation was the most appropriate option.
“That way we can deal with the remains and make three urns,” she said. “We did not want to bury him in Northern Ireland,” she added, in response to Diana Stewart’s claim that the family wanted to bury Michael Stewart in Northern Ireland.
“This is all very stressful, as you can imagine.”