Home > Announcements > W. Stephen Hathaway, 1945-2013

W. Stephen Hathaway, 1945-2013

December 26th, 2013
"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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posted by Announcements

  1. Cindy Mines
    January 1st, 2014 at 11:52 | #1

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. This is a lovely tribute to Steve and wonderful photograph of the family. Sending love to you all as you begin a new year without Dad and Grampa.

  2. Kathryn Daniels
    January 1st, 2014 at 12:26 | #2

    So sorry for your loss. Steve was a fantastic teacher. I had him for class at WSU in 1981. Over the years his name I have not forgotten. I have forgotten the names of other Professors. I kept my books and notes from his class only. Although, they are yellow and faded, I have referenced them frequently. I owe Steve and what I learned in his class, the ease of my Master’s thesis and my Ph.D dissertation. I did not have the trouble with writing that other students were having. I think it was because I had learned to construct a sentence correctly in Mr. Hathaway’s class. I am truly sorry for your loss. may the memories you have, and the memories from others remain in your heart forever.

  3. Sheri Brigstocke
    January 1st, 2014 at 15:31 | #3

    This captures Steve so well. It is a lovely tribute to his lively spirit. I had the pleasure of taking a class from him at Wichita State – and also the enjoyment of several classes from Jeanine, as well.

  4. Kenn Woodard
    January 1st, 2014 at 18:51 | #4

    The feeling I felt this morning after learning of Steve’s passing was one I cannot describe! I have known Steve for almost twenty five years. Steve was a man’s man! I was privileged to learn many things from this man. It wasn’t what he said but how he said it. And how he did many of those things. One day after playing a round of golf Steve announced that his ‘little’ girl was getting married. He was so proud of Margaret! Oh, how the room lit up when one would ask how ‘Grandpa Steve’ was doing?! Little did we know that he was ill! Nor did we know that he would be moving away from Wichita to Maine. I had been so caught up on my own health issues I failed to keep up with many of my friends. I had promised Steve I would keep in touch with him after I retired in 2009! But my daughter’s wedding in April of that year and the birth of our first grandchild in 2011 changed all that. Knowing Steve he would make some half-wit commit and take it with a “Steve Hathaway” grin! For that was Steve! No Matter what was going on or NOT going on in your family he had your back. Family meant a lot to him. His wallet and or his smartphone would let you know all about his daughter and his grandkids. Rest well my friend! Rest well!!!!

  5. Judy Carter
    January 1st, 2014 at 19:00 | #5

    Margaret, I am so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. I worked with Kim in the main office in the 80’s and have such fond memories of you “helping” one parent or the other when you spent time with them on the 6th floor. They always were so proud of you and could not hide the sheer delight when you were with them. I know your Dad was a wonderful professor and gifted writer, but I best remember him as a good man–easy to laugh, quick to calm, straightforward in his speaking, and unabashed in his love for you. I can’t question how happy he must have been to be so close to you and the grandchildren and how blessed you all are to have such precious memories which will become such comfort in days and years to come. Prayers for you and all your family.

  6. susie.
    January 2nd, 2014 at 09:34 | #6

    He will be deeply missed by the Schutt family, where is name was often invoked with great reverence.

  7. January 2nd, 2014 at 14:56 | #7

    I took a Creative Writing class from Steve in the early 1980s. Although I haven’t written a single piece of fiction in over two decades, I greatly benefited from Steve’s teaching. I will never forget him asking, “What is the function of that sentence?” It’s a great question – and not just for authors.

    I will also never forget the camaraderie and story telling that occurred at Kirby’s. The teaching and learning continued long after the formal classes were over. Thank you for sharing your father with us!

  8. Catherine Jenkinson
    January 3rd, 2014 at 11:41 | #8

    I was stunned by this news. Seems impossible that Steve’s great laugh is lost to the world. I graduated from the MFA program at WSU in 1999. Steve was so bright, enthusiastic, encouraging, fierce. (and he HATED lists that went on and on before ending without an AND–so I think about him whenever I see or write a sentence like that!) Steve was a great teacher, writer and friend. My husband, son and I all took courses from him and count ourselves very lucky to have known him. Nothing I can write here is adequate to address his passing, but just know how many people are thinking about Steve. Sending love to his family.

  9. Ramona Liera-Schwichtenberg
    January 7th, 2014 at 17:54 | #9

    I was saddened to learn of Steve’s passing….I was especially surprised since I had just talked to him on the phone in October, and while he sounded a bit tired, he never let on about anything. I knew Steve from WSU, as a colleague, and I treasured his friendship….I was welcomed into a group of “old guy” friends at Harry’s who would ruminate on the political travesties of WSU and also certain other colleagues’ failings (Steve was a part of that group and all are gone now except one). We laughed a lot….I also respected Steve’s counsel when I’d ask him questions about men and my abysmal dating life. Word play, metaphors, sarcasm and that hearty laugh. I think he liked the Packers just for me and loved the hats I got him from Green Bay. He always opened his house to us for Superbowl parties, New Years, Thanksgiving….All of us brought potluck and his cornish hens were a delight. Steve befriended my sister too and he looked forward to her visits from Wisconsin. Camping with him and three other people near Estes Park in 2007 … I remember him getting up in the morning and saying “Bloody Hell!” I will never forget him. He was one of a kind! My sincerest sympathies to you, his family

  10. Bruce Kamei
    January 8th, 2014 at 19:08 | #10

    Steve was my thesis advisor at WSU. He was an extremely kind and understanding man. He is one of the few people I will always remember. I went back to Wichita a few times after I graduated, and I always made sure I had dinner with him. A kind, decent, and loving person–what more can you say about a person.

  11. Jim Sheffield
    January 8th, 2014 at 20:22 | #11

    Steve’s powers of observation made me envious; his wit was, suitable to the circumstance, alternately gentle and cutting; he deftly employed his capacity to use and to guide the use of language; and his friendship was a treasure. We are poorer for his absence.

  12. January 9th, 2014 at 12:03 | #12

    Even though I can’t write fiction to save myself, I learned much from sharing the hall in the WSU English department with Steve. He was the a kind, happy person who loved literature, teaching, and most of all his beautiful daughter and granddaughters. He and I shared a love of the Michigan landscape, where he grew up and where I lived for several years. I miss seeing him at Harry’s and hearing his wonderful, unfettered laugh, but I’m grateful that I got to know him.