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Friday, December 1, 2023
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Susan Steever: An Adventurer, An Activist, A Volunteer, A Mother Who Demonstrated ‘Strength and Perseverance For All’ (Obit)

MendoFever wants to provide a place for the community to honor those who have lived their lives and passed on free of charge. If you want to share the story of someone’s life and passing with the community, please send a photo and a written piece to matthewplafever@gmail.com

Susan Lee Stever [Picture provided by her daughter Erin Lalani Steever]

Our community lost a pillar and our family lost its leader on January 9th, 2023, when one of our mom’s beloved trees was brought down by the storms. Susan Lee Stever was born April 12, 1954, in Stockton California, to Jimi Holbrook, Barbara Clites, and big brother Stephen. Sue spent time living in Lake Tahoe and in Stockton while growing up. She often enjoyed sharing memories of her youth. Stories of camping in Yosemite, going to Santa Cruz with her lifelong friend Shelly, attending many concerts, protesting injustice, and meeting the love of her life Gerry Stever. Sue and Gerry moved to Hawaii in 1974 where they lived a nomadic lifestyle. Sue proudly shared her “BC, before children” stories of building bamboo huts and being naked in the sun. In 1976 they returned to Stockton, and Sue discovered her true reason for living, with the birth of their first child Erin Lalani. Sue had become a mom. Their next relocation was to Whitefish/Kalispell Montana where Sue’s world was to become complete with the births of her sons Geremy Lewis, in 1978, and Brandon Hawk, in 1981. Sue loved Big Sky country and taught her children the love of the outdoors, of camping, and of being self-sufficient. The family quite literally took its sustenance from the land. Sue’s children knew nothing of “store bought food” until 1983, when they moved to Tucson Arizona so Sue could care of her mom who had cancer. While living in Tucson Sue ran an at home preschool, and began her lifelong career in community service work. Sue was appalled to learn of current laws that had allowed for a recently released convict to have the opportunity to kidnap a little girl, and she decided to change it. She was a founding member of We The People, and dedicated her time to making the world a better place wherever she could. Sue’s daughter remembers standing with her mom, outside in front of area stores, collecting signatures for the petitions. And the laws were changed. Sue’s mom died of cancer in 1985, and they decided to return to Stockton and be near family. Always the totally dedicated mom, Sue got a job at Glenwood Elementary, where her children were attending. She had a variety of job titles and achievements while working there. Among them, her proudest was being awarded the Golden Apple by the governor, for her Friendship To Education. In 1990 they succumbed to the lure of a return to Big Sky country, and moved to Sandpoint, Idaho. They found a dream 50 acres where the family would go camping for weeks on end, enjoying snow in the winter and water in the summer. Sue worked as a cashier at Yokes, the local grocery store, as well as continuing her work in the community. She did endless fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network, even appearing on the televised fundraiser for 4 years. Sue’s home had an open door policy, always having extra kids staying with them, giving them love, and being Mama Sue to everyone. In 1995 Sue became ill and they made the difficult choice to leave the place they loved, in order for Sue to have a chance for better health. In 1996 they settled in what became her forever home. Sue absolutely loved the Mendocino coast and Fort Bragg, both for its beauty and small town community. She got a job at Fort Bragg High School, working a variety of different positions over the years, and helping a greater number of students than we could imagine. Sue was very proud of the Winter Workshop she started and always spent the entire year planning. She continued in community work including volunteering with Project Sanctuary and fundraising for anyone in need of help. Sue first discovered the joys of being a grandma in 1997 when Erin became “bonus” mom to Joey Jesse Paul, and Matt Robert JC Paul. Sue promised those young boys from moment one that they were her grandsons forever, no matter what, and kept that promise. Sue’s first granddaughter, Bobbi Elizabeth Irene Paul, was born New Years Day 1998, and was immediately her Grandma Sue’s light. The birth of Dennis Walker Paul further brightened Sue’s world in 2000. She took great joy in spending summers traveling and camping with her kids and grandkids. This was also a time when Sue was providing hospice care for her dad and her grandma, in addition to her work at the school and in the community. In 2010 Brandon Hawk gave Sue the gift of her cherished second granddaughter, Lyleigh Ann Stever. That same year Geremy brought her even further happiness with the birth of Judah Stever. In 2011 Sue found herself surrounded by brand new grandbabies when Erin gave birth to Rebel Glenn Paul, rounding out the trio of gorgeous grand babies to love. Sue retired from Fort Bragg High School in 2012 but quickly realized she wasn’t ready to just raise her chickens. Sue continued to change lives by working at Parent’s and Friends, and then at Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center. Both not-for-profit organizations have a mission that will improve quality of life for members of the community. While Sue watched her grandchildren become teens and adults, she welcomed 4 great-grandchildren, Joe, Trysten, Cheyenne, and Melanie, along with many many “extra” grandchildren. Sue has always maintained her open door policy in her home, offering a sanctuary to any extras. In her eyes they were all her grandchildren. In 2016 Sue found her dream job as a Social Worker’s Assistant with Child Protective Services, working in the best interest of every child and family she met. In 2017 tragedy struck when her home was lost to fire. In the midst of losing everything, she was immensely grateful that all her babies were okay. She demonstrated strength and perseverance for all, as she powered through everything that needed to be done to rebuild. Also around this time Hawk met his partner Maddy Baldwin and Sue’s beloved family grew with the addition of 4 more grandchildren, Brody, Hallie, Liam and Brock. Nothing made Sue happier than a family dinner surrounded by all of her kids, extra kids, grandkids, extra grandkids, and great-grandkids. At the time of her tragic death, Sue was taking a break from her job, and her time was dedicated to her family, her beloved animals, and to having fun with friends. Sue had an incredible bond with all her grandchildren and most of the time had one by her side for adventures. Sue is survived by her daughter Erin with partner Janelle Johansen, sons Geremy, and Hawk with partner Maddy Baldwin, grandsons Joey, and Matt with wife Ashley Vance, Dennis with partner Vienna Westcott, Brody, Judah, Rebel, and Brock, granddaughters Bobbi with partner Justin Goodnough, Hallee, Liam and Lyleigh, great-grandchildren Joe, Trysten, Cheyenne and Melanie. Also survived by extra grandkids Leanne Caukwell, Dylan Stipe, bonus family member Robin Isbell, and a circle of best friends that meant the world to her. Sue was preceded in death by her husband Gerry, her brother Stephen, and her parents Jimi and Barbara. Please join us on March 4, 2023, for a celebration of her life, at a location to be announced.

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1 COMMENT

  1. How do we create a Sue Stever scholarship fund? Not for straight A students, but for someone who worked their butt off to get B’s… the kid who put their nose to the grindstone and SURVIVED every day…. We talked about that idea long ago…. Idk we need something special in her name …

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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