I first met Steve when he was 2 months old, a baby in his mother’s arms. Julie handed him to me and told me to smell his head. Perplexed, I did so – and inhaled the sweet aroma of baby, milk, and that special scent that forever bonds a mother to her child.
When I next saw Steve, he was a bubbly, energetic 2 year old – the apple of his Grandma Jean’s eye. I heard about all-things-baby from Grandma as she recounted everything that Steve did (sometimes a little TMI), his every word. She was in love with her first grandson.
I am guilty of introducing Steve to his first naughty word – “fart”, much to his delight and the admonishment of his parents. “We don’t say that word”, Julie told me. (Nonetheless, I think it remained in his vocabulary.) My brother Paul told me that he one-upped me by inadvertently introducing another (and worse!) naughty word to Steve on the way to Grandma’s house – that Steve repeated, and repeated, and repeated as Paul drove to Grandma’s house.
Steve was a bright and very happy child, always moving, engaged, and talking non-stop. One summer when I was visiting Iowa, I remember sitting in the back seat with him as Grandma and Grandpa drove us from my brother Mark and Shari’s house in Storm Lake, back to Iowa City. It was a very long drive, and Steve entertained us all the way. Finally, I suggested that we play a new game – “Who can be the quietest?” Steve was totally on board - and he even won a couple times! – until we all broke out giggling.
I remember taking Steve and Eric to the waterpark when he was a little older – and watching as he ran headlong into the waves and slid down the slides. In my mind’s eye, I can still see him – head back, wide smile, laughing.
As he grew older, one thing didn’t change – Steve was always willing to connect when I saw him. When he met some of life’s challenges, we’d talk to me about them and I was glad I was able to help him in small ways. Steve called me in January this past year, which was a surprise because I hadn’t heard from him since our visit last July. We talked for a long time - about how he was doing, books he was reading, phone job interviews he had and ideas I had on how to handle those calls. We spoke a few more times after that after that. It gives me comfort that we had that chance to reconnect again.
Head back, wide smile, laughing – saying, “You know what, Aunt Marcia?” and then telling me everything - That is how I will remember my nephew, Steve.
Julie, Paul, and Eric,
You are all in our hearts. We are so sorry and wish you love and peace.
Cindy, Mike, Sam, and Jonah Anderson
To Mark Schultz,
Mark, we have never met but I am the college student who met Stephen at the bus stop. We talked about faith and how he didnt have a good history with the church and I asked him more about it and he told me a little about that past. It was not our church that he attended long ago but I told him that if he would forgive us, the body of Christ, we would love to have him back and love him and begin to heal a broken relationship.
To the family of Stephen,
I have experienced a lot of loss myself even as a young college student. On June 10th, 2017 I lost my father. The following January his father passed away. August of 2018 one of my friends lost her mom to cancer. 3 months after that I lost another grandfather. In January of 2019 I lost a great aunt and my roommates father to early onset Alzheimers. I do not say this to take away from your grieving. No I don't want to do that. I only want to say this because losing a loved one is hard. I have experienced the pain and suffering that you are feeling right now and I can only offer my condolences.
I would first like to apologize for this time that you are all going through. I am sorry that people may not understand completely. I am sorry that they may not have the right answers for you. I am sorry that they wont ask the right questions you need them to ask. I am so so sorry for your pain. I did not know Stephen well. The only interaction I had with him was at the bus stop. I wanted to see him at church also but never got the chance to. I am sorry that you have lost someone important to you.
Lastly a message of hope. I have experienced a lot of loss in my young life but I have experienced so much joy because of it. After I lost my father I went to church. I heard the good news that Jesus died for my sins and was buried on my behalf. I heard the news that three days later he was resurrected from that grave. The moment I heard that, something in my life changed. I kept going to church and learning more. I learned about heaven and what it actually is. It is not some place in the clouds where angels play harps but it is a place where every hole in your heart will finally be filled. Every pain we experience and every heartache we face it will all be taken away. Every tear will be wiped from our eyes. There will no longer be pain. There will no longer be suffering. We will finally be satisfied.
Like I said I did not know Stephen well, but what I did know of him is that he carried baggage much like we all do. My friend Mike, from Veritas church in Iowa City, also posted in the condolences and said he is confident Stephen is walking with Jesus. I will tell you what that means. It means Stephen is no longer carrying any baggage. It means Stephen no longer has any hole in his heart. It means Stephen is no longer experiencing pain, suffering, or heartbreak. It means Stephen will never again have to cry any tears. Stephen is home.
To Paul, Julie, Eric and Stephen's extended family,
I was unfortunate not to have met Stephen personally. From the stories written here, I can see that he was a kind soul with a wonderful smile and memorable laugh. My hope for you all is that those memories of Stephen linger and sustain you while the painful memories fade away. Wishing you all peace and comfort during this difficult time.
I remember when we would all spend time together during the summers in Iowa City, Stephen was the cousin you talked to if you wanted to convince everybody to do something. He was quick to laugh, and even quicker to smile, and could usually get everybody to go along with any idea. It might have gotten us into trouble more often than not - I'm pretty sure my first and last experience with a cap gun was thanks to him - but good or bad, I always looked forward to those visits. The bright summer days filled with fun or mischief will always be with me, and Stephen will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.
That laugh. That joyful.laugh and grin was so contagious. Going to the cousin's house was the best. Even though I could never figure out the skateboard, I always felt cool hanging out with the older cousins. But I think I'll remember his laugh most of all.
LEADER OF THE PACK
I must admit, few things give me comfort at this horrific time in our lives. The tragic news of Stephen's death only compounds our suffering. I do want to share some things that make me smile, and also make me burst out in tears as we try and find comfort and direction with the news of his death. May I share a few thoughts that I had this morning that give me Peace ?
Memories and Mystery:
His impish grin . As a boy he relished in being the leader of the pack of the 6 Schultz boys. He didn't always start the trouble, but his laugh and smiles made it clear that he enjoyed being part of the action. That chuckle....
The love his grandparents had for their first born grandchild. They surrounded him with their love. I recall countless hours of him bouncing on Grandpa Louie's lap, and Grandma Jean bestowing him with her love ( and gifts )....and her sharp crackling voice and she occasionally admonished him with ..."STEPHEN!!!!!......."
The love and affection he gave his only girl cousin. He always gave her particular attention, even though the other boys were likely very weary of the special princess status she attained just with her birth.
The mystery of the date signed to his death. Certainly he died prior to this, but his death certificate displays the day his death was discovered, 3/24. This his Godmothers birth date, his Grandfather's birth date, and his great Uncle Arnies birth date. I know this is not the date he left this earth, but the connection with that date gives me comfort.
The mystery of Dad deciding he wanted have his ashes mixed with Mom's , leaving one empty grave spot next to them. I understand his ashes will be buried there. I cry with joy knowing that all his health struggles are gone, and he is no doubt filling Grandma and Grandpa's ears full with his wonderful exuberance as he shares eternal life with them. How comforting to know he will be laid to rest beside them, a constant reminder of their reunion.
The mystery of the day in December when I was thinking of Stephen and suddenly recalled the promise I made at his baptism so many year ago. It hit me like a ton of bricks. He and I started reconnecting. On some of my long car rides to various clinics, we would chat for an hour or more. I learned of his disappointment from the separation from the church in his late teenage years. I don't know the story, but I know the deep disappointment he held surrounding that. I had been searching for ideas of how he could regain more purpose in his life. As we talked about his days of managing all the electronics and sound at various performances....it hit me.....CHURCH !!! I kept trying to work through his disappointment and finally , one day , it happened. He told me about the chance occurrence at a bus stop. A random person asked him about his Faith. What a mystery. I so want to meet and hug this person. This lead to him attending this church. Many wonderful people provided rides, and helped encourage him to go and solved the obstacles for him to go by providing rides.
A week or so after the bus stop story ,I have my favorite memory of Stephen. It was a phone call. A magical phone call. It was the Stephen I remember from the old days. He was so full of excitement he could hardly contain himself. The second I answered the phone he shouted, " Uncle Mark...guess what.....I WENT TO CHURCH !!!" The mystery of Stephen turning back to God in the final weeks of his life fills me with Peace.
Our hearts are broken.The support given to Stephen by so many people will always give us comfort. The love that was given to him by Paul, Julie, and Eric is a treasured memory and helps in our healing.
We will always be challenged by so many questions as we keep Stephen in our hearts. Perhaps these reflections, and the magical mystery of these stories will help our healing as we seek Peace.
Julie and Paul, we were so sad to hear about Stephen. Please know that you and your entire family are in our thoughts and prayers. Mary Johnston and Dick Hines
I met Stephen when I was working at the Waterfront Hy-vee. I instantly considered him a friend. He was a great boss to work for. He will be missed.
I met Steven when I was working at Waterfront Hyvee. He was a great guy and one of my favorite bosses. Such a shock.
I met Stephen through the Veritas Church in Tiffin. Stephen had met one our college students at the bus stop. They spoke about their Faith. Stephen wanted to reconnect with God. I was called to help Stephen with a ride to Veritas on Sundays. I want you to know that Stephen was attending Church at Veritas the last couple of months. We spoke about the sermon, his health, our Faith. Veritas Church services were cancelled a couple of weeks ago due to the virus. Sermons were online. We spoke on the phone during the weeks. I was very shocked to see this. I truly believe that Stephen is walking with Jesus and all his pain is gone. God Bless !
So very sorry for your loss. Sending sincere thoughts and prayers to you.
Pam and Rich Loan
I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Steve from school. He was a joyful student. Thinking of all of you at this time of terrible loss.
Very sorry for your loss. I worked with Steve in the dairy department at Hy-Vee during our college days. He was a fun co-worker, always up for anything and became a good friend. He will be missed!
I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Stephen, he was a friend of mine. I used to live in Iowa City, in the same neighborhood as him when we were both younger. I have fond memories of him and he will be greatly missed.
I had the privilege to direct Stephen in my first Footliter show. He was a wonderful young man and will be greatly missed.
I am so sorry for your loss. God will help you get thorough this. Stephan will find his way.