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Kearns and Sons

Stanley Stepanski Jr.

Stanley Stepanski

Florence – Stanley Stepanski Jr. passed away on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula, Montana after a short illness. He passed peacefully surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was 66 years old.

Stanley, Stan or “Big” Stan, as he was known, was born December 1, 1946 in Long Beach, CA, to Stanley Sr. and Joann Stepanski. He grew up in Lakewood, CA, and would talk about how he had enjoyed the beaches in Southern California.

In 1965, Stan proudly enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served with honor until his discharge in 1969. He was stationed in San Diego, CA and assigned to the USS John A. Bole. His ship was deployed to Vietnam, where Stan served his country with distinction. Throughout his life, Stan remained in contact with his Navy buddies and loved to talk about ships and the sea, and his time in the Navy.

While in the service, Stan met and married the love of his life, Helen Hayter. Stan and Helen were married September 3, 1967. The two were inseparable. Helen was at Stan’s side when he passed.

On August 19, 1971, Helen gave birth to the couple’s only child, Stanley Stepanski III. “Little” Stan, as he is known, is a giant of a man and was a great source of pride and comfort for Big Stan. Father and son became even closer in the last few years of Stan’s life, and they had the opportunity to enjoy many father/son activities together. Stan would often remark to friends about this time with little Stan, and how much it meant to him.

In 1974, the family moved to Northern California when Stan was hired by Anheuser-Busch to work in their new brewery opening in Fairfield, CA. Stan was among the brewery’s first employees. The family settled in nearby Vacaville, CA. Stan’s position with Anheuser-Busch was operating engineer. It was Stan who was responsible for keeping the power and utilities functioning smoothly in the plant, which churned out millions of gallons of Budweiser beer each week. Stan, who was known to enjoy a brew or two on occasion, quickly came to adopt Bud Light as his beer of choice. Stan’s friends would know to have a cold Bud Light or two in the fridge when Stan came to visit.

Stan was a proud Teamster, and for several years served as Shop Steward at the Fairfield Brewery. As in the service, Stan made many close and lifelong friends while at Anheuser-Busch. Stan would enjoy visits with his brewery friends even after his retirement in 2002.

After retirement, Stan and Helen relocated to Florence, MT, where they still live today. Stan and Helen had visited Montana several times before retirement, and fell in love with the Big Sky, clean air, and beautiful scenery. Stan enjoyed retirement in Montana, and was still able to travel back to California regularly to visit with his many friends.

Stan was the friendliest and most outgoing person one could ever hope to meet, To meet Stan was to become his friend. Stan could walk into a room of 20 strangers, and within half an hour he had 20 new friends. After another half hour, Stan would have a half-dozen or so invitations to all manner of social events; BBQs, fishing trips, holiday meals, whatever. It was literally impossible not to like Stan.

And Stan was generous to a fault. Stan could fix most anything. His days off would often be spent at one friend’s house or another doing some repair work or construction that needed doing, or running a variety of errands for friends, all with no expectation of payment other than your smile, your friendship, and maybe a cold Bud Light.

Stan was blessed to enjoy a variety of activities during his life. He fished, boated, rode motorcycles, listened to blues, loved to play cards, and was particularly fond of floating down Idaho’s Salmon River with his son and his buddies, which he did once a year for about 15 years.

Stan and Helen loved to follow San Francisco Giants baseball. When they lived in CA, they would attend Giants games regularly, and Stan was present in Candlestick Park for the World Series in 1989 when the stadium was rocked by the now famous earthquake. He was also able to attend games at the Giants’ new park, and always tried to catch a game when he would visit CA during baseball season. He and Helen attended a Giants’ game at AT&T Park just six weeks before his death. Stan was grateful that he was able to see the Giants win two World Series Championships in his lifetime.

Stan was a big, friendly, smiling, outgoing, generous, unpretentious teddy bear of a man. The world is a lesser place without him.

The family is planning a memorial service to celebrate Stan’s life, to be held in Vacaville, CA at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the Valley Veterans Service Center, 299 Fairgrounds Road, Suite 4, Hamilton MT 59840.

Condolences and memories may be left for the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.

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