Edward Steffler 24 Aug 1921– 24 Jul 1992
Today we are gathered to honor Edward Steffler, a friend, a relative, a great-grandfather, a grandfather, a father, and a husband. I had the privilege of being Ed's home teacher. We didn't talk church much, but I could tell that Ed is a spiritual man--a person with a "Billy Goat Gruff" voice as JoNell likes to describe him, but a man with a tender spirit. Ed had not renewed his Temple Recommend for sometime and when I suggested that we go to the Temple together when it opened again January of 1992, Ed's smile indicated that he would consider it. However, shortly there after I moved unexpectedly to Wickenburg. I stopped by several times to see Ed, but each time no one was home. He was probably fishing. You know that he loved to go to the lake and catch those forty-pound catfish. On one trip to Mesa, I had a strong impression I should stop by the house. Flora met me at the door and informed me that Ed was in the hospital.
During the next several weeks I visited Ed several times at the hospital and at home when he was released. I remember in May that I suggested again that we attend the Temple together. Although he was nauseated from chemotherapy, his eyes sparkled and a slight grin crossed his face. I think that he was ready to go back to church and take the steps necessary to renew his Temple Recommend. Death cut those plans short, but I feel Ed made his amends before he died and he will soon have a recommend. Although Ed’s earthly body lies here before us, it is my belief that a loving Heavenly Father allows the spirit of the departed to linger near and see and hear the events of their funeral. Because of this belief, I am going to talk to Ed. The rest of you are invited to listen.
Ed, do you remember those multiplier onions that Opa Neerings planted? As friends, the Neerings gave Flora and you some of them. One of you planted them and they began to multiply. The two of you gave them to friends and I suppose as the onions grew and multiplied your friends shared them with their friends in an ever widening circle of love. I cherish the ones that are growing in my garden in Wickenburg--whenever I pull one I will think of you and how you have influenced my life.
You are not here now to help Flora tend the onions, but they will keep growing and spreading from garden to garden as friends share them. Like a multiplier onion that has been shared, you have shared your sweet spirit with us. That influence will allow us to continue to share your love in an expanding circle of friends and family.
I am told that you first began to touch people’s lives when you came to this Earth in 1921. You were born near Rugby, North Dakota--the 6th child in a family of 8 boys and 2 girls. Sorrow touched your life at the age of 11 when your Mother passed on. I am sure that you have had a glorious reunion with your Mom and other relatives that have been waiting for you to finish your time on Earth.
Remember how your oldest sister pitched in to help your Dad raise the clan. Your life on a North Dakota dry farm taught you how to work. You and your brothers and sisters had early morning chores before school and work awaited your return home. Ed, your children fondly remember the stories of your childhood--how you loved the horses that you used to cut and raked the hay and how you and your brothers worked together in the farm's blacksmith shop--repairing farm equipment--yours, your neighbors, and your friends. They love the stories you told them about hunting skunks and how you and the dogs smelled after getting sprayed. They are fond of the tales of how you made marbles by gathering clay at the clay pit and carefully rolling it in balls and baking them hard in a fire.
By the time you were 17, drought and dust storms, set in motion the events that would bring you and Flora together--your family moved to Goshen, Idaho with the hopes of finding a better life. As a young farm hand, the Saturday night dances in Idaho Falls, seemed like a lot of fun. It was at one of these dances that a pretty young girl snapped your suspenders. It was Flora and you were smitten. You and Flora worked hard for eight months to save money for your wedding day. A year after the wedding a son blessed your marriage. After three more boys, a beautiful girl arrived. Ed, Flora fondly remembers homesteading the 320 acre farm in Blackfoot, Idaho. I am told that the first year brought dust, rain, and mud, but with every year things got better. After four years you moved from the remodeled railroad box car home into an army barracks that had been given to you.
While living in Blackfoot, your family made friends with a neighboring farm family--the brood of Blair and Betty Spalding. In a World War II veteran's drawing, you and Blair received adjoining farms to homestead in Rupert, Idaho. Through the many years of farming and growing children of similar ages, an enduring bond of friendship has rooted like multiplier onions. For 15 years, with lots of love, laughter, and hard work, you and your family farmed your land. During this time, you and Flora touched the lives of 12 foster children with your goal of improving each child's life. The final foster child, a baby brand new from the hospital, captured your family's heart and she became a permanent part of the Steffler clan. Now your family was complete with Daniel Lee, Edward Elden, Marvin Ray, Terry Dean, Dolly Suzanne, and Sharla JoNell.
Like seeds planted in fertile soil, these acts of love of caring for foster children continues to touch the lives of your children as they share their love with those about them. Despite years of hard work and struggle, it became clear after the harvest of 1969, that it would be impossible to keep the farm. I am told that you made the decision to move to Arizona because of the job opportunities. Ed, do you remember telling JoNell that the reason you were moving to Arizona was "to earn a truck full of money." JoNell says that she still visualizes you heading back to Idaho with your pick-up bed stacked full with money.
In Arizona you left the farm life and joined the Operating Engineers. After about a year, you were able to get Marvin a job. Remember how crowded it was when Marvin and his family joined you on the Christopher Creek job. Two families living in a small trailer was so crowded that Dolly decided to sleep in the car. I am sure you laughed and cried with the night as they reminisced about the good times Although no one could see you, I am sure that you want to mention some of them again.
Ann, Terry's wife, recounts that in the summer of 1990, you were always waiting for a UPS delivery. The many exciting new gas saving contraptions were just too irresistible for you to pass up. She says, "I think his goal in life was to drive to the lake for $5.00 in gas. Mom, Terry and I just couldn't pass up a devilish plot to manufacture a home made gas saver and convince him a UPS delivery had come. You must understand he was like a child waiting for Santa each time a UPS truck drove by and utter disappointment darkened his faced when it kept on driving. So, our home made gas saver consisted of a pair of his best underwear, a can of refried beans to create the gas, and naturally a balloon attached to the rear of the underwear to trap the gas for future use. This was all neatly packed in a UPS box. As he happily unpacked his long awaited box the look on his face was worth all the planning and packing of the homemade gas saver. The laughter lasted for hours."
Your children remember when you took them on fishing trips and you worked so hard to allow one of them to catch the first fish. One time you made a special trip to the fish hatchery so Dolly, at age 2 1/2, could catch the first one.
Then there was that deer hunting trip with, Dan and Elden. The boys were about as excited with missing school as they were with going hunting. When you bagged the buck just after daylight and got home in time for school, do you remember how they pleaded to stay home? Of course you remember Dolly cooking your breakfast on small play stove. The light bulb heater did not always get egg completely cooked, but you always ate it and told Dolly what a good cook she was. One of JoNell's favorite memories is sitting by you when she was a little girl and comparing her little hands to your big hands. She felt, that there was nothing your strong hands could not do. You enjoyed wrestling with the boys. When Dan was in high school, you let the four boys pin you to the wall because you did not want to hurt one of them.
Ed, Dan remembers you going through four sets of Stake Missionary before you joined the Church. Dan says that he treasures the memories of advancing through the Aaronic Priesthood with you. He remembers you being ordained an Elder when he was 16. He recalls how proud he was when you attended Temple Preparation Classes, and later took Mom and the family to the Idaho Falls Temple. Dan says, "I cherish the memory of kneeling at the alter and being sealed as a family."
Elden recalls your visits to Idaho. He says, "When Dad and Mom came up to Idaho, he had to fix cow's tongue and sauerkraut. We also had to save all the chicken necks and tails. Dad loved to tell me what he did to his pickup to save gas and what I could do to my pickup to make it use less gas."
Marvin says about his youth, "It's hard to forget those early morning wake up calls. No matter how warm the bed or cold the morning the chores on the farm had to be done. Once I finally made it outside and I was working side by side with Dad, fulfilling my individual responsibilities didn't seem so bad. The skills Dad taught me in those predawn hours have served me all my life."
Terry says, “It's hard to loose my Pop, but even harder to loose my mechanical advisor, my fishing buddy, and my friend."
Then there was the time that you forgot to escort Dolly down the isle at her wedding. Dolly says, "The day I was married and was ready to walk down the isle, Dad was not in sight. Mom was feeling lonesome and had motioned to him to come by her. Dad felt so comfy by her he forgot to come back to escort me. He felt really bad to have missed that."
JoNell cherishes the telephone conversation that she had with you when you were still at the hospital on the day of the "Indy 500" car race. Remember you told her, " . . . you're my JoNell and my baby, and I love you--just remember that." And JoNell told you, "I love you and I miss you too."
Ed, Flora is thrilled that when you came home from the hospital you had decided to start attending church. She will miss you a great deal. It will be difficult for her to have you gone. But we know that it is really only a short time until all of us can be together again. Ed, we love you! We will miss you! We will remember you! You are going home to Idaho, not with a truck full of money, but with a life full of good deeds, wonderful memories, blessings, and love. As we say goodbye I would like to read to you a poem that Marvin and Deanna composed especially for you. Raindrops fell from darkened sky
Tears from Heaven; so thought I
But when he passed the shimmering veil
His gentle touch upon me fell
Full of Freedom, Joy and Light Tears from Heaven?
No--Joyous delight. EDWARD STEFFLER LIFE SKETCH by Max Colgrove