Friday, June 14, 2013


A few years ago, back when I was Run With Lumber chair at the elementary school, the event was running along quite smoothly.  I was walking around the field, holding a clipboard, looking all chairperson like, when a concerned parent approached me.

"There's someone lying on the ground over there", the man told me, "He's not moving".

He was right to be concerned.  Despite our efforts to keep it fun, some had troubles.  If it was cold and windy, the asthmatics suffered for it.  Then there were always those who had no clue what the term "pacing" means.  Parents and grandparents showed up, and sometimes got a little too caught up in the action.

I looked across the field to where this parent, new to the school, was pointing.  He was correct.  Someone was lying on the ground across the field from us, not moving at all, while the other kids continued with their laps.

I turned back to the concerned parent.  "It's okay", I said, "that's Mr. Steve".

Mr. Steve, getting the troops ready

Mr. Steve is the much loved P.E. teacher at the school.  He's been there since the school opened, around 30 years ago.

Even though Run With Lumber was a PTO fundraising event, I always relied on Mr. Steve.  He'd get the field ready, and more importantly, he'd get the kids ready.  They all loved him, and he could inspire them like no other.

Although he was a leader to whom all the kids looked up, he's actually quite a rather softspoken, unassuming guy.  Very laid back.  I suspect that a lot of that is really just quiet wisdom of a man whose group of coworkers consists of about 95% women.

His wife is also a teacher, who used to teach at the school.  A piece of school trivia is that Mr. Steve proposed to Mrs. Mr. Steve during a Pride Assembly.  I'd have loved to have been there to see it!

The Human Hurdle, getting into position

Another thing he's known for is, every Run With Lumber, he spends part of each group's run as "The Human Hurdle", hence the laying-on-the-ground-not-moving.  He bravely lies in the path of runners - including kindergartners who can be poor judges of distance, and 5th graders who can just be downright nasty.

He just retired from the school.  While everyone is certainly happy for him, it's sad to see him go.  Two weeks ago today, I went up to the school to turn in my crossing guard getup, and he was there cleaning out the last of his stuff.  We had a nice visit, and I know he looks forward to an active retirement.  He's an avid outdoorsman - loves hiking, camping, and river rafting.

Mr. Steve lives in Black Forest.  His was one of the 389 (so far) homes that made the "Total Loss" column.

At least his family's safe.  And it didn't take long for the sad news to spread through the school community, staff and parents alike.  Everyone I've talked to wants to do something for them, and I'm sure something will be organized soon.

Because it's Mr. Steve.


Anonymous said...

What a touching story, Abby. Makes the fires seem so much worse when you know someone who was affected. Especially when that someone is Mr. Steve. I'm happy to hear he and his family are okay, at least physically. MY heart is so saddened. I can't imagine how they must feel. But I have a feeling he's going to be overwhelmed with help from all the people's whose lives he touched. Please keep us apprised of their situation.
Continuing to send blog juju your way....

Guano said...

Touching & sad. I can tell I'd like Mr. Steve. Bummin' for his home and thinking of him -- as well as the other Black Forest residents.

agg79 said...

What a sad story about a great guy. ShadowRun's right - the tragedy of the fire is more poignant when you are close to those affected. It is especially heartbreaking to hear of Steve and his wife to lost their home suddenly after having worked so hard for retirement. I hope and pray that they will recover and rebuild. Same goes for all those in Black Forest. Still sending the juju.

terri said...

Mr. Steve is that teacher. The one the kids remember with smiles when they're 20, 22 or 24 years old. He's the one that makes a bigger impact than most teachers ever do. My kids have had a few Mr. Steve's of their own during their educational careers.

I'm so sorry to hear that Mr. Steve's home was destroyed. Such tragedies always seem more devastating when they affect someone you know and care about. It's obvious that Mr. Steve gave so much of himself over the years. I'm sure the families of his students will do all they can to ease the burden he faces in replacing his home.