Stephen Ralph McCullar
d. December 23, 2016
Truth and kind words can change the world. ~ Buddha
...And anyone who knew Stephen would add an unquenchable curiosity, an ebullient sense of humor and a great smile that reaches your eyes.
Stephen Ralph McCullar died peaceful- ly, at home, on December 23, 2016, in the arms of his beloved “Sweetpea,” his wife, fellow-adventurer and best friend of 42 years. They met as teachers at North Torrance High in California. He wooed her with his humor, his quiet intel- ligence and a smile that won her heart over and over again. They married a year later, in 1975, on the island of Kauai. They loved everywhere they lived, from California to the Caribbean to their final home in 1994 on Loghill Mesa with its glorious views of the Cimmaron and San Juan Mountain ranges.
Steve was instantly likable, a man who drew people to him with his genuine interest in them and who almost always left them laughing. He was a man of great integri- ty and generosity of spirit who had many life-long friends. His birthplace was Phoenix, Arizona. His uncles taught him to be a cowboy on their ranches on the Mogollon Rim, the best time of his young life. He played baseball at ASU. He was a splendid athlete, a trophied and passionate dirt bike rider and racer in Colorado, Mexico and California, who spoke Spanish like a native. He loved running, golf, racquetball, fly-fishing, and, most of all, traveling, swimming and snorkeling with his wife throughout their beloved Caribbean in the days when coral reefs teemed with life. He was a life-long rescuer and lover of animals, an inquisitive man who loved the study of history and different cultures, earth science, and space exploration, who was fascinated by current events and politics, which invariably provoked his wish to have “he didn’t understand” engraved upon his tombstone.
Most importantly, Stephen was a U.S. History, Government and ESL teacher who taught his students to think, to question, to learn and to enjoy it all immensely. He loved his students and celebrated their many differ- ences while teaching them to do same, for themselves and for each other, then and always. That was his great, good gift. He was chosen as USA Today U.S. History Teacher of the Year for the stated reason that his class, above all others in all other schools, was the one in which the judges most wanted to be. So did his students; they adored him. He was a great and beloved basketball coach as well, who taught his players the art of winning and losing well and to love the game.
Stephen, his wife by his side, and with the help of his cherished sister-in-law Kate, waged a four and a half year battle with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a devastating and horrific motor neuron disease that gradually, and then completely, robbed him of his ability to move any part of his body and to speak, while keeping his intelligence and aware- ness largely intact. We who loved him attribute the peace with which he died to the many prayers in his name and to the loving and expert care he was given in the
last month of his life by the wonderful staff of Hope West Hospice; we are so very grateful.
As his wife, I am grateful to God for giving me the strength to take care of him at home in the best way possible, reassuring him as his body failed that he was still my rock, my champion, sharing memories of a life- time that still evoked that wonderful smile. Per his request, there will be no funeral services. Instead, we would have you continue to pray for those who suffer similarly and for those who love and care for them.
Stephen McCullar is survived by his wife, Barbara Anne Chevillon McCullar, his brother, Michael Hart McCullar, and his sister-in-law, Kathleen Annette Chevillon Seaver, and many cousins, as well as by the students whose lives he helped shape, and by his many friends with whom he shared his life, travels and adven- tures.
For those who wish to remember him with a dona- tion, we suggest Disabled American Veterans, dav.org, or Wounded Warriors Family Support, wwfs.org. Stephen's respect and gratitude for those who serve our country was profound, as is ours, particularly for those who serve in harm's way. ALS is recognized as a service-connected disability. (www.alsa.org) Steve served in the Air Force Reserve as a radio operator from 1958-1964. Under the auspices of Donor Services Inc., a research charity estab- lished by Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors owner/director Megan Hess, we are elated that his body has been accepted as a donor body by the University of Florida for the specific purpose of ALS research.
For those who knew him and loved him, please share a good memory and/or photograph online at sun- setmesafuneraldirectors.com.
He would smile if you would also remember him when you do something you did together or loved in common, be it star-gazing, playing a Selena, Bob Marley or Merle song, reading a book from Ridgway Public Library, riding over Blackbear, Molas or any other high mountain pass, raising a Corona Light, or taking time, wherever you are, to simply “smell the roses.”
I have passed the mountain peak and my soul is soar- ing in the Firmament of complete and unbound freedom; ...I am in comfort; I am in peace. ~ Khalil Gibran