W. Stephen Hathaway, 1945-2013

  • Posted by: karl
"Grampa Steve" with Charlotte, Sadie, Margaret and Beatrice, Hanukkah 2013
“Grampa Steve” with Charlotte, Sadie, Margaret and Beatrice, Hanukkah 2013

We mourn the passing of Steve Hathaway, Margaret’s father, who died Thursday, December 26, after a week of hospice care in our home. His final illness was not prolonged, and he passed peacefully and without pain. Margaret was holding his hand when he died.

As many of you know, Steve’s health had been declining over the past few months. We’re all sad and exhausted, but so thankful to have had this time with him. He made it to Christmas, which he was thrilled to be able to celebrate with the girls, and he went gently and surrounded by love. His spirit and generous heart will be greatly missed.

W. Stephen Hathaway was born in Tucson, Arizona, on June 5, 1945. He was the eldest of five children, and was raised in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Steve attended Michigan State University, and served in the Peace Corps in Trinidad and as a translator in Vietnam before earning his MFA at Bowling Green State University. There he met his (former) wife, Jeanine, and the two moved to Wichita, where they joined the English department, and where their daughter Margaret was born.

Steve taught creative writing and American literature at WSU from 1974-2012, where he was a beloved teacher, mentor, and friend. His infectious chuckle and colorful language rang through the halls of the English department for decades. The recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Steve spent a sabbatical year in Cambridge, England, in 1982. His collection of short stories, A Kind of Redemption, was published by LSU Press in 1991.

A committed Democrat, Steve ran for state legislature in Kansas twice, dotting his heavily Republican district with signs that read “Who is this Steve Hathaway?” (Needless to say, he lost.) An enthusiastic outdoorsman, Steve hiked, camped and fished throughout the West. Retiring in 2012, Steve bought a house in the woods in Maine, on property near his family at Ten Apple Farm. He spent his last year and a half tramping around his woods, bumbling around L.L. Bean, and reluctantly helping with farm chores–tales of his duck herding and skunk trapping have already passed into family lore. Happily, Maine provided a Republican governor for him to curse.

Mostly, Grampa Steve doted on his granddaughters, driving on school field trips, teaching the girls to fish and ride their bikes, hosting family movie nights, and becoming a fixture at gymnastics, ballet, and Girl Scouts. His final illness was swift, and he stayed himself to the end, warming himself by the wood stove, sneaking candy to the girls, orchestrating Christmas dinner, and rereading Nabokov’s Speak, Memory in the days leading up to his passing. At his request, there will not be a funeral, but we are planning to celebrate his life at a Festival of Steve, at his home, in early June. Donations in his memory can be made to Wichita’s public radio station, KMUW, and to Levey Day School in Portland, Maine.

3317 E 17th St. N.
Wichita, KS  67208
Levey Day School
400 Deering Avenue
Portland, ME  04103

View a gallery of Steve through the years on the Ten Apple Farm Facebook page

We invite you to share stories of Steve in the comments section.

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Author: karl