Ken Gordon Brown
Eulogy for Ken Gordeon Brown Read by Peter Brown, son of Gordon Brown
Darwin's award-winning Indigenous entrepreneur Stewart Stacey has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 52.
The founder and director of cybersecurity firm Binary Security was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour on January 9 and died on September 10.
He left behind his wife of four years Carmen, children Isabelle, 13, and Sam, 9, and stepchildren Robbie, 11 and Kayla, 16.
Carmen Stacey released a heartfelt message upon his passing.
"Stewart Stacey, love of my life, left when he was ready. We will be forever grateful to have had this unique beautiful loving human in our lives.
"He fought harder than any person I have ever met, with courage, dignity, integrity and vulnerability.
"In the end, he passed surrounded by love and with love in his heart."
Stewart, who was born in Brisbane but grew up in Darwin, enjoyed a stellar career in IT. Accepting a scholarship with the Department of Defence straight out of school, he went on to open Darwin's first internet cafes, start an internet company Territory internet Service and act as an IT consultant with the Northern Territory Government.
But it was his ambition to provide opportunities for Indigenous people in the tech industry that produced one of his life's highlights. A year after setting up his cyber security company Binary Security, one of the few Indigenous-owned and operated cyber security firms in the country, Stewart won the 2019 Barayamal Black Swan award for the Best Up and Coming First Nations Entrepreneur.
In accepting the award, Stewart said he felt Indigenous business in Australia was set to explode onto the world stage.
"Being part of it is both incredible exciting and humbling," he told the audience.
"It was wonderful," Carmen recalled "It was such a validation of his work, because he was really trying his hardest to create something that would give Indigenous people opportunities."
In later media interviews, Stewart revealed his intent to train more Indigenous people in tech.
"There is a stereotype for Indigenous people. In their employment, they're sort of more focused on agricultural roles - land, sea-based, ranger-based, that's where a lot of the money goes to," he told tech publication ZDnet.
"And that's all important, that shouldn't change, but there's very little when it comes to the other end of the stick, within the high tech field."
Carmen said her entrepreneur husband was very principled in business and applied the same focus, open-heartedness and bravery to his groundbreaking work as he did to managing his illness.
In April, Stewart, Carmen and the family had one final holiday - to the Gold Coast - thanks to the generosity of family and friends who raised funds through a Go Fund Me campaign.
But Stewart's health deteriorated during that week; and an MRI revealed the tumour had grown despite the months of gruelling treatment.
"They basically said he only had three months to live and that he could either have an operation which wasn't a life improving operation, it was life extending operation," recalled Carmen. "They told us he may lose the ability to move his left side and come out of it a completely different person."
Stewart made the decision not to have the operation.
"He had a very strong faith, he was not afraid of dying," said his broken-hearted wife. "He just didn't want to leave the kids. He didn't want to leave me."
On September 15, family and friends packed the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Darwin to farewell the devoted father, husband and businessman. The service was studded with heartfelt tributes to Stewart, including letters his children had written to him, a week before his death.
Dean Chisolm, a school friend of Stewart's delivered the eulogy which was written by Carmen with help from her family and friends. With her permission we publish it here.
"He left this earth surrounded by love and full of love" - Family tribute to Stewart Stacey.
Stewart Nathan Stacey, born May 21, 1971 in Brisbane to Phillip Stacey and Jacqline Latemore (deceased). Stewart was the eldest child, followed by Anthony and then his sister Peta.
Anthony remembers them going to breakdancing lessons at the scout hall across from their old house in Wagaman. Stewart was a typical older brother and took great pleasure in using Anthony as a human dartboard. Their mum kicked his arse for it!
Stewart was about 13 years old when the family got their first home computer. It was an IBM with about 240kb RAM and he played Decathlon on it. This was where his love affair with computers started.
He went to preschool at Moil Primary School, meeting his 'brother' Damien Williams there. This friendship was built on love and respect and remained through Stewarts life. He met Lissa Sinclair at preschool. Lissa's mother Helen, was a friend of Stewart's mother. Helen describes Stewart as a loveable rogue, a beautiful boy. Lissa and Stewart, became House Captains for the Tasman Team at Wagaman Primary School. They hung out with Damien, the Tommy's, and Jimmy. Lissa and Helen, remained in Stewart's life, until the day he passed. Stewart called Helen, Mum.
He attended Wagaman Primary School and later went to Casuarina High School.
As a young fellow, Stewart loved to collect Star Wars memorabilia. He enjoyed playing chess. He came second in the NT school chess championships.
Stewart was good at martial arts. Friday nights often were spent at skate world, afterwards, he and his mates, Donnie, Dean, Dio, Damien, (Stewart called them the deadly Ds) would then move on to Boney's, the pinball parlour. They would catch the last bus at 11pm, or if they missed that they would have to walk home.
He played junior Aussie rules Football for Waratahs. First game he played; he kicked the ball the towards the wrong goal.
Stewart's passion was basketball playing for several clubs including Rebels, South Darwin, Pioneer Pints and Mitsubishi RSL. He represented the NT in Basketball under 21's in 1990 and 1991. He represented Darwin in numerous Easter Basketball Championships. One year, along with Damien, they won the Easter Club Championship's with Pioneer Pints.
Stewart was also one of the first of his mates to get his learners licence, before he turned 16. Damien, Stewart and another mate, went for his first practice run in the car with his mum Jacquie. Damien said, Stewart was the first guy he has ever met, that turned a car into a kangaroo. He hopped the car all the way down Lee Point Rd. Damien and his mate laughed so loud, they got in trouble with Stewart's mum.
He was one of the first young guys to have a mobile phone when they came out. He loved showing it off!
While Bouncing at Darbies he made many friends including Devushka. That friendship held strong for 32 years. Stewart helped her start a small modelling agency called Prestige Model Management. She attributes a large amount of her success in getting this business off the ground, to all the support Stewart gave her. Devushka describes Stewart as a fascinating contradiction, where the exterior was a strong, tough man, but on the inside, he had a softness and sweetness about him and one of the biggest hearts.
Stewart opened one of the first and largest internet cafes in Darwin. He branched out to Katherine, where Damien managed the shop there.
Stewart joined the navy. He excelled in his class, but he left after a while and made his way to Oklahoma in the USA.
In the USA, Stewart he became heavily involved in the gym. He taught Body Pump and discovered his love of teaching fitness.
Stewart was initially a key part of a business, called Voitech, that opened down south by JB (a long term friend) and his brother. Stewart became the technical brains behind this venture. His involvement was short but the Voice over internet protocol remains a good idea to this day.
JB (John Bonnin, owns the Boat Shed in Cullen Bay) describes Stewart as highly principled
Stewart handled all JBs technology requirements. JB was under strict instructions not to even look at the technology, or it may break. JB's wife Sandy recalls how she would sit in then office at the Boat Shed and listen to them argue about passwords and IT and how funny it was. As a dig at JB, he changed one of his passwords 'JB God'.
Long-time friend Jamie remembers the Gala Ball in mid 2000 where they got to dress up partying on into the morning. Leaving the Casino, the group of friends rocked the night away at Throb nightclub. He loved nights like these.
In 2010 Stewart started work as IT Manager at Core staff. Stewart met Rob Oliver. They hit it off and became close friends. Stewart enjoyed his friendship with Rob Oliver and Rob Blenkenship. Rob Oliver recalled a time when Stewart tried to convince him to invest $1000 in Bitcoin. Rob pretty much thought this idea was a load of crap, why would he invest on this imaginary money that was in the cloud, that he couldn't see?
Rob ended up convincing Stewart to invest the money into some random mining company stocks that eventually went bust. Just to note $1000 of Bit coin these days is worth about 40 million dollars!
Stewart's world changed when Isabelle was born on November 15, 2009, followed by Samuel on July 19, 2014.
For Stewart the sun rose and set with Izzy and Sam. They were the light of his life and his heartbeat.
In 2018, Stewart set up his company, Unified Data, Binary Security and operation Unify Us. In 2019 he Won the Aboriginal entrepreneurial award Barayamal award.
Carmen and Stewart met as teenagers and found each other again 26 years later. They organised to catch up for a drink on 13th January at 5pm in town. Nine hours later they left the bar. Carmen said she had never consumed that much alcohol in her adult life. Eight weeks later they were engaged. They married exactly 18-months after their first date.
Their union brought together Izzy, Sam, Kayla, and Robbie. Their family was complete and both Stewart and Carmen experienced the happiest time of their lives with their beautiful, blended family.
When the family were all together they created traditions, such as Sunday morning breakfasts, jumping in the pool in the middle of the night on freezing cold dry season nights, making family TikToks, Izzy teaching everyone new dances, playing loud music, everyone arguing about music selection, the entire family playing in the rain, using tyres to swim down the river out the back of their house, Stacey family blogs. Together they were complete.
Stewart became very close to Carmen's mother Valda and called her mum. He loved Carmen's family, Pa, Grandad, Uncle Tam, Aunty Kelly. Jaimie also joined our family in 2023.
Stewart was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma on January 9, 2023. This rocked the world of his family and friends.
Stewart fought with courage, dignity, integrity and vulnerability.
He will be remembered as someone who loved deeply. He was a protector. He would be deeply offended and mortally wounded if he felt wronged. He worked hard on making life smoother. What we see and know about Stewart were the friends he made from childhood and continued to make until now, remained firm. He kept them close and made you feel that you were the most special person. With the family Stewart built, the children he loved and adored Sam and Izzy, the bonus children Kayla and Robbie, he parented with love, and with the love of his life Carmen, who loved him equally, he left this earth surrounded by love and full of love.
Until we meet again.
Originally published as Tributes flow for Darwin entrepreneur Stewart Stacey who has died aged 52
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