Dr. William Stewart served as director of the National Heart Institute for two months before being named U.S. Surgeon General in 1965.
He was the first Surgeon General to require health warnings on cigarette packs. Dr. Stewart oversaw two reorganizations and the integration of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS). Previously, he had served briefly in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was transferred into the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Communicable Disease Center, which later became the CDC.
In 1951, he joined the PHS Commissioned Corps and subsequently held several leadership positions, including as Assistant to the Special Assistant to the Secretary (Health and Medical Affairs) immediately prior to leading the heart institute in 1965. He had previously been with the Institute as a grants trainee in 1953 and as chief of the Technical Services Branch in 1956.
After serving as Surgeon General from 1965 to 1969, he returned to his alma mater, Louisiana State University (LSU) Medical Center, to serve as Chancellor and Chairman of two departments. He was also Secretary of the state health department from 1974 to 1977.
He retired from LSU in 1986 and died in 2008.