Tribute to Michael R. Stevens by Jody Engle:
As many of you know, my husband passed away last week.
We fought side-by-side for the past 5 years to keep him going. He suffered heart attacks, kidney failure, and many other health issues. He was my best friend for more than 30 years.
He told me several years ago that when he dies, he will have done everything in his life he wanted to do. He was bigger than life. He partied with Janis Joplin in LA, worked in radio broadcast on the technical side (and had such a distinctly deep voice that he was thrown in front of the microphone regularly), had a private pilot’s license when he was 16 years old (and received an airplane for a high school graduation gift), flew as a private pilot all of his life (owning many different planes), built his own airplane (and flew aerobatics as a hobby), his own sailboat (and camped out on the beaches of Mexico), was a scuba diver before one had to be certified to obtain oxygen, built his own car, had sports cars all of his life, made and lost millions of dollars (mostly on the lost side with the technology crash several years back…although $$ didn’t mean that much to him), integrated televideo conferencing into a network he designed more than 20 years ago at Hanford (he was a maverick), designed wide area networks and was a sales technical support director for Cisco Systems at the end of his career. He had the rare gift of being creative AND technical. He invested in a small airplane (A&P) business in Chelan after he retired and made it profitable (including bringing in medical insurance for the employees).
He was a champion of women’s rights. He taught me to shoot shotguns, bird hunt (although I could never pick up a bird after it was killed because I didn’t like the actual KILLING part, nor the cleaning part), taught me to fly aerobatics, hired a woman telecommunications technician at the risk of being fired against his manager’s wishes in the late 70’s, and helped many, many people in their careers. He was the BEST manager I have ever known of (his former employees from several years past have paid testimony to his management skills on Facebook for the past week). He took the time to take people on and help them to be more of the person they were meant to be. He saw people’s strengths AND their weaknesses, but accepted both.
He believed in fairness. He gave people the benefit of the doubt. He was generous. He was kind. He had a wicked sense of humor. He was a single parent of a son in the 70’s when it was unheard of. He was fearless in business. He was as comfortable speaking with a prince in Saudia Arabia as the head of Qantas airlines in Australia. He ADORED the 2 year old little girl who lives with us with her parents (UW students from Mexico).
He lifted MANY people up (including me). Michael lived life on his own terms, always. He also died on his own terms. He was a “handful” (it’s not easy to love someone who was as deliberate as he), but he could still crack me up after 30 years.
I will never forget him and will miss him every day for the rest of my life. Thank you all for your cards, your condolences, and your kindnesses.
Hold the people you love close to you. Relationships are the most important things we have in our lives. When we die, it is our influences (and memories) in the lives of others that we leave for each other.