Family, Memoirs.

So Long, Steve


Christmas 1958 - Steve, Tom, and Grandpa Wiebe. Family.


-Psalm 91, Steve's favorite Bible passage

My brother Steve, Stephen Alton Wiebe, died recently of heart failure; he was 66 years old. Steve’s wife, family and friends were around him at the end of his life, a life whose last years were painful and difficult. Steve, my older brother, is no longer suffering. I will miss him.


Shared Stories

Journal of Steve’s Last Days



Family portrait 1975. Family.


Stephen Alton Wiebe (or Steve or Stevie) was born August 19, 1951 to Alton “Tony” and Celia Wiebe. He was the oldest of six children. His surviving siblings are Tom, Barbara, Ruth, Craig, & Peter. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he attended Wilson and Jackson High Schools. After high school, Steve joined the U.S. Navy and served as a radioman, including a stint in Vietnam.




Steve met Leila Jo Lies at Village Baptist church in Beaverton, Oregon, where they were married on November 13, 1993 and recently celebrated their 24th anniversary. Steve and Leila Jo relocated to Mesa, Arizona, in 1994 where they lived for the rest of Steve’s life. Steve was a truck driver, driving 18 wheelers across the United States and locally in Portland Oregon. He worked at Enterprise buying and transporting cars and as a Personal Care Assistant with Ability360 for over 12 years.




Steve and Leila loved to travel. They took many cruises together across several continents, sometimes with other family members. Steve was an indefatigable driver, and they drove to many destinations in the United States and Canada.

Steve helped in many capacities in his church, but his great passion was theater. He acted and directed in productions for his church and was involved in local theater. One of Steve’s great joys was caring for Corey Buhr, who suffered a terrible accident when he was young. Steve himself suffered a bad motorcycle accident in 2010, and spent his last 7 years in chronic pain, still contributing where he could. He suffered a good deal, particularly at the end of his life.

Steve died at home on January 11, 2018. He is suffering no more. He is survived by his wife Leila Jo. He was interred at Willamette National Cemetery on February 2, 2018 with full military honors.

Stories about Steve

Deep water Navy


USS Tripoli LPH-10. PD-US.


Steve joined the Navy on February 2, 1971, and was trained as an RM-0000, a radioman. He served for four years on active duty, and 2 more in the inactive Reserves. After his boot camp and advanced training, he had two major tours of duty. The first tour was at the Naval Air Facility Adak on the island of Adak, Alaska in the far-flung Aleutian Islands, supporting antisubmarine warfare operations and surveillance of naval surface vessels of the Soviet Union. The second tour was aboard the USS Tripoli (LPH-10), an Iwo Jima-class amphibious helicopter assault ship. During his tour on board, the Tripoli went on its third Vietnam tour at the end of 1972, concluding it with a minesweeping operation in Haiphong harbor, as part of Operation Endsweep, which was the clearing of American mines from North Vietnamese waters as a condition for the release of prisoners of war. – Shared by Tom Wiebe.

Accomplished Slob

For a few months before I married my wife Cindy, Steve and I shared a small duplex apartment on Killingsworth near Greeley. I considered myself a respectable slob, but Steve took it to a whole another level. After the first couple of weeks, the place was so piled with dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and clutter, that I wondered if it was going work living with Steve. So I told Steve it was time to clean the place up, and without hesitation, he jumped up and joined me. We had the place cleaned up in a couple of hours. I found that, although Steve was not usually the one to suggest it, anytime it was time to tidy up or clean the kitchen, Steve just pitched right in. – Shared by Tom Wiebe.


When Steve was growing up, in the summertime he had occasional bouts of hayfever. It was hypothesized that this was brought on by cut grass. I was dubious, particularly when it came time to mow the lawn. Steve and I were supposed to share the lawn-mowing duty, but when it was his turn, his hayfever would ever so mysteriously flare up, and … well, let’s just say I pretty much mowed the lawn … – Shared by Tom Wiebe.

Tenacious sportsman

When we were growing up, we learned the usual American sports together from Dad and our friends: baseball, football and basketball. Steve wasn’t as consumed by sports as his brothers, but he was tenacious and quick. I played a lot more basketball than Steve, but when he would guard me on occasion, it could be difficult to get a shot off, as his defense was first-class. Craig related a story (below) about Steve playing in one of his college pick-up soccer games. I would add that Steve had very little soccer experience, yet when he played goalie in that game, he stopped nearly everything that came at him. Had he spent more time at sports, he could have been formidable. – Shared by Tom Wiebe.

A Life of Music

Growing up together, our parents exposed all of us to music, especially encouraging us to sing, whether it was singing in church, singing together in the car, particularly on long trips, caroling at Christmas time, even singing along with Mitch. Really.




Steve sang in choirs for much of his life, starting in middle school and high school. Steve really sang out. For those of you who have sung in a choir, you know that choir directors repeatedly urge their singers to sing out, to sing with a full voice. They had no problem urging Steve. He loved performing, whether as part of a choir, or in high school musicals, or in theater. He and I sang together in the Village Baptist choir as adults. He usually sang in the baritone section, I in the tenor section. A particular joy for me was singing once as part of a male octet for Father’s day, Steve and I side by side. I got to see up close how he put himself into the song, and could feel his exuberance.

Steve often sang out in his life. Steve could throw himself into what he was doing, with enthusiasm and focus. So many of the pictures we have of him show his open smile, often an impy smile, looking at us as if to say, “How much fun is this?”.

On my last visit with Steve, a few weeks before he died, we shared some music one more time. Amidst his pain and sleeplessness, on the last night I spent with him he found some relief as we listened together to our classical music favorites: Mozart’s Horn Concerto’s, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, some Strauss Waltzes, Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite. We would finish one, and Steve would call out another, bringing us both back to the days of our childhood when we were introduced to that music. Barbara had a similar experience, singing familiar hymns together at night on her last visit with Steve.

Steve’s journey was rarely without music; it was a pleasure to share it with him. – Shared by Tom Wiebe.

San Diego visit




Daniel and I didn’t get to see Steve very often, but it was always fun to see him when we did. I remember when we went down to San Diego, and saw Steve and Leila Jo at LEGOland and Seaworld, and how much fun that was. The one bad part was when we sat in the “splash zone” and my pants were all wet for the rest of the day. I really enjoyed that trip, and seeing Steve and Leila Jo there. – Shared by Ellen Wiebe.

Coming to Terms with Losing Steve

It was very hard to hear that Steve chose to leave the hospital, discontinue his medical treatments and go on Hospice. I cried a lot over that. Then Steve called me to talk about it. He told me it was the hardest decision and the easiest decision he ever made. It was easy because Jesus walked into his hospital room. Came to his bed and held Steve’s hand. Jesus told him not to be afraid because He would be with Steve all the way and that He had a place for Steve. That gave me peace with Steve’s decision to go with God. – Shared by Ruthie Moreau.

The Gift of Time

I got to have a really precious week with Steve, just before Thanksgiving. Mother, Daddy and I went down to be with Steve and help Leila Jo. All of our plans went out the window when Steve was readmitted to the hospital. I had the day shift so had lots of time with Steve. We spent everyday together laughing, talking, remembering and laughing some more.




Steve loved to talk about my visit with him in the care center where he was recovering from his motorcycle accident, nearly eight years ago. One day, in the care center, while I had my head down writing questions to ask the doctors, Steve told me he was so frustrated that he wanted to throw something. Without thinking I said go ahead. Two seconds later I looked up in time to get wacked in the face with all of his hospital blankets. We both laughed so hard we cried and have laughed about it ever since. The second time I encouraged him to express his frustrations, I remembered that Steve had been very cantankerous the week before and I was not supposed to encourage that behavior. So then Steve and I laughed over the possibility that I would lose my visiting privileges.

In the week I had with Steve at the hospital, we reminenced over all the years and we got to tell each other how much we loved each other. I didn’t know that would be my last visit with Steve. What a gift that week turned out to be. We got to say all the important things to each other and we created more loving, happy and joyful memories together. – Shared by Ruthie Moreau.

Steve’s Caring Heart

Steve was very tenderhearted and generous. Whenever someone needed help, he was right there doing whatever he could. In fact, he met his wife doing just that – helping someone in need. If I remember correctly, he answered the church bulletin to help someone move and paint their new apartment. That someone turned out to be the love of his life, Leila Jo. The next week, when Leila needed help building a shelf, he was there and built that shelf. I think that sealed the deal because after that Leila Jo accepted his invitation to a date and the rest is history.

Steve could be a good listener. He was often very empathic. He helped me through some difficult times in my life.

When someones need was financial, Steve was generous to a fault even when he didn’t have much himself. He just quietly helped people. I remember him helping others many many times. He even bought a car for a missionary family in his church. And he helped me when I was in college. My son and I delivered newspapers. The first winter was brutal with black ice and lots of snow. Steve saw a need that I hadn’t seen and he went out and bought me four studded winter tires to keep us safe. – Shared by Ruthie Moreau.

My Brother the Ham

Steve always loved singing and had a lovely voice. I remember watching him sing and act in his high school production of the King and I. I see him, in my minds eye, with his black colored hair and cool costume preforming beautifully.




Steve loved acting and later became very active in theater at his church and within the disabled community. Steve started with acting and then added directing, producing and writing plays to his repertoire.

I got to see several of the plays Steve was in. He was full of joy when acting, was a very good actor and a natural ham. He was fun to watch. Steve was able to play any part he wanted and I just loved seeing him work his magic. – Shared by Ruthie Moreau.

Soccer with Steve

I was heading back to U. of O. after the summer off. I needed a ride to Eugene, and maybe a bit of help moving and, as often was the case, Steve was all about it. We drove down, moved my stuff and the next day some friends were getting together to play some soccer so Steve and I joined in. As luck would have, it Steve and I ended up on different teams, he was playing goalie and I was playing forward. The first shot I put own goal Steve stopped. Good for him. The second shot as well, nice save Steve. He could have let the third one in, just to let his little brother feel good about himself. Over the course of the game he stopped every shot I put on goal (nobody plays defense in a pick-up game so I got off a lot of shots). Every one of them. He was a wall, a force-field, unbeatable, at least when I was shooting. The next day he had a lot of bruises, pretty much everywhere, whereas only my ego was bruised. It was a great day and a fun game. – Shared by Craig Wiebe.

My last visit with Steve


Steve with family and Friends Dec 2, 2017. Family.


I went to visit Steve and Leila Jo in November after Thanksgiving. Tom had already been there for several days and Craig, Peter and I all arrived to stay for a long weekend. We enjoyed one dinner together before Tom had to return to Portland. It was special to be there together and share time with our brother. We enjoyed playing cribbage with Leila Jo, and eating around their outside table. We were able to take Steve for a walk around his neighborhood. He was friendly with his neighbors and happy to talk with people. We took turns on night duty with Steve to give Leila Jo a chance to get some sleep. During my night shift Steve wanted to sing hymns. We sang every hymn we could remember … Jesus Loves Me, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Tell me the Story of Jesus, I come to the Garden Alone, Trust and Obey … until he was too tired to sing anymore. It was a precious time singing praises to our Lord and remembering how much He loves us. Steve prayed on his knees, after falling out of bed, and thanked Jesus for his life, for his loving wife Leila Jo, and for all his family and friends. Steve was very grateful, and was thankful that we could pray together. He loved the Lord Jesus and was looking forward to being with Him. – Shared by Barbara McDougall.

Memories of Steve through the years.

As the oldest kid in the family, Steve was the boss, especially of the tv. That meant on Saturday mornings we watched what Steve wanted, and that was cartoons. He would eat peanut butter with a spoon direct from the jar, his favorite snack.

We had a peeping tom one night when I was fourteen and in high school. A man stood outside my bedroom window, then eventually broke into the house via a sliding door that didn’t latch correctly. He came into my bedroom, and startled me awake. I let out a blood curdling scream, which woke Steve immediately. He rushed to my rescue, chasing the man out of the house and through the neighborhood. Tom’s bedroom was adjacent to mine, but he slept through the whole commotion.Thankfully Steve was not such a sound sleeper!

Steve also came to my rescue as a newlywed. Duane was out of town, and our dogs became spooked one night. They barked so hard I got concerned, and got up to check things out. My brave dogs hid behind me and one peed on my leg, which made me really nervous. So I called my parents’ house. Steve was home and came right over. He walked the inside and outside of the house with a baseball bat to make certain that I was safe. Then he slept over so he could protect me.

Another time Duane and I had a water leak at our house. It was especially inconvenient to wait for a plumber because we had tickets to a Blazer game. So I called my Dad, of course. He and Steve came over and the two of them dug a trench from the house all the way to the street and fixed the pipe problem for us!

I remember doing the chicken dance at Steve and Leila Jo’s wedding.

Steve loved to tell the story of babysitting our two little girls. 2 year old Stefanie played contentedly by herself while Steve and 4 year old Janna played together. Stefanie didn’t want to join in, until she decided it was time for Steve to play with her. Then she grabbed him by the hair and pulled him towards her to get his attention. That story always made him laugh. He loved being an uncle, and our kids all loved their uncle Steve. – Shared by Barbara McDougall.

Out to Sea




Growing up as Steve’s younger brother, I sometimes had to rely on his experience, but didn’t always have the maturity to recognize when. We had traveled as a family to Athens, Greece, and were camping on the Mediterranean. Steve was 10 years old, I nine. He and I wandered down to the beach, and saw a rowboat tethered on a long rope to a dock. No one else was around. We climbed into the rowboat, and began using the oar to paddle to the end of the tether. I suggested it would be more fun to untie the boat. Steve said no, it could be dangerous. Soooo, I untied the boat. We began drifting slowly out on the tide. Steve pointed out we were moving away from the shore, I argued that there was no problem, the shore was moving away from us! While Steve tried to reason with me, we heard shouting from the shore, where Dad was waving frantically to us, a few hundred yards away and difficult to hear clearly. Dad grabbed an air mattress and hand-paddled out to us, grabbed the single oar and slowly, awkwardly propelled us back to shore, in furious silence. We were dead … We both received a public spanking, Steve’s undeserved. Later Steve, still rubbing his bottom, said over and over, “If only you had listened to me!” – Shared by Tom Wiebe.

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