Editor’s note: This obituary is presented in partnership with The Philadelphia Obituary Project, a nonprofit committed to memorializing city victims of homicide whose deaths have otherwise been overlooked.
He went by “Anthony” and “Kareem” at different points in his life, but by the time he became an adult, Ninetyfive South Stewart had embraced his unusual name.
“It brought him a lot of attention, and he loved attention,” his sister Darlene Lee said.
Mr. Stewart was born at the Dover Toll Plaza in Delaware on I-95 South on May 22, 1991. The family was headed to North Carolina when his mother, Patricia Faison Boyer, started going into labor in the car. No one knew she was pregnant.
“I just remember being in the car waiting for him to be born,” recalled Lee, who was 4 at the time.
Mr. Stewart was adopted by his grandparents, Gloria and David Stewart, and raised alongside Lee and two younger brothers in North Carolina. When he was about 10 years old, the family relocated to Philadelphia.
Mr. Stewart wanted the best for his loved ones, and he urged them to join him in eating vegan and learning more about the world. He would take photos of books he was reading and send them to his family, recommending that they check them out so they could discuss them.
On Dec. 28, 2021, Mr. Stewart told Gloria Stewart he was going out to meet someone. A short time later, he was fatally shot in a vehicle at 16th and Susquehanna in North Philadelphia. He was 30 years old. Police have not made any arrests.
“He taught me a lot,” his mother said. “He said: ‘Mom, you can’t fix everyone’s problems. Worry about yourself. Do you.’ He wasn’t a baby anymore, but he was my baby. Ninetyfive was caring and giving. He had a good personality and a good spirit.”
Mr. Stewart’s name made him stand out, and not always in a good way, so, growing up he sometimes went by more common names to fit in. Gloria Stewart said when he was about 10, he’d walk around the house saying, “Who’d name a child `Ninetyfive’? `Ninetyfive’?!”
“He finally ended up loving his name, and people who didn’t even know him loved it, too,” Stewart said. “When people would meet him, they’d go home and tell everyone that they met this guy named `Ninetyfive’ because he was born on Interstate 95. They just loved that name.”
Lee remembers riding bikes and playing Nintendo with her brother when they lived in North Carolina, but their favorite activity was bouncing on the backyard trampoline. They’d wake up and immediately run outside to jump.
Mr. Stewart was mischievous as a boy — Lee recalls him and their brother setting the linoleum flooring of their North Carolina kitchen on fire — but no one could stay mad at him for long.
“Everyone wanted to be around him because he was super silly,” she said. “He made you laugh, and he made you want to protect him at the same time.”
Mr. Stewart had a stutter as a child. He took speech-therapy classes and learned to speak slowly and intentionally, so he meant every word he said.
In Philly, he attended Walter George Smith Elementary and Peirce Middle School in Point Breeze, followed by Roosevelt Middle School in Germantown. He graduated from Germantown High School.
Mr. Stewart was enrolled in business courses at the Community College of Philadelphia. Rather than taking out student loans and going into debt, he paid as he went, taking one or two classes at a time.
He worked odd jobs here and there, but his main focus was being his mother’s caretaker. He had his own apartment in Northeast Philadelphia, and he also had a room at her house in North Philly, where he’d stay most of the time. He struggled under the weight of the responsibility, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mr. Stewart was known as being reliable and supportive, even in the middle of arguments. When a loved one needed him, he was there.
“No matter what we went through, I could always call him for anything,” Lee said. “We could not be speaking to each other and if I called him for help, he would just do whatever needed to be done, then we’d go right back to not speaking. That’s how genuinely good-hearted he was.”
In addition to his biological mother, adoptive parents, and sister, Mr. Stewart is also survived by brothers Gregory, David, Stephen, Thomas, Durand, and Jaheim; sisters Iesha and Antoinette; stepfather Raheem McQueen; grandfather Thomas Player; longtime girlfriend Lakia Murphy; bonus children Kiyon, Jordan, and Justin; and a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles.
A reward of up to $20,000 is available to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Mr. Stewart’s murder. Anonymous calls can be submitted by calling the Citizens Crime Commission at 215-546-TIPS.
Resources are available for people and communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Click here for more information.