Memories of Stephen Stymiest Wanted by His Family

Bernalwood is a micro-local blog, but the same cannot be said for the global Interwebs which function as our distribution platform. And as a result, the story of Stephen Stymiest, the homeless resident of Precita Park who died on January 20, has now reached members of his far-flung family.

This morning I received a very moving note from Stephen’s former wife:

Stephen is my ex-husband, we were married for 19 years, and divorced since 1997.  We have three children, all now young adults.  As you may understand, it was the alcoholism which took over him and he abandoned all of us for a bottle.  Although we expected that he was homeless and would die to the disease, this was heartbreaking.  It has helped for us to read the beautiful things that were written about him.  He was a caring man, loved life, loved animals, loved people.  Thank you for sharing the story.  And, if there are any memories you have of him talking about his children, or any other stories in general, I’d like to be able to share those words with the children.

I’d like to help her. Dear neighbors, if you have stories about Stephen or recollections of your conversations with him, please use the comments to share them here, to preserve his memory so that his family might learn more about the gentleman we all remember.

7 thoughts on “Memories of Stephen Stymiest Wanted by His Family

  1. I am Irish and used to walk my dog in the park. Stephen always had a chat with us and loved my slow old dog. He was very proud of his Irish roots and loved to hear that I was going home every so ofter to see my parents. He wasn’t a bad drunk, hardly at all. I think he just like living in the park and feel the warmth of the sunshine and the free flow of conversation with random people. He was truly a free spirited man in touch with nature. May his children know how kind and gentle he was and always a smile. He was well read and always had a book near by, it was all about stories. It was just terrible to think he was beaten as he had no harm in his heart for anyone.

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  3. I am Stephen’s sister-in-law, Lois. When I saw the article I was very sad. Stephen was always very nice to me, my husband and my children. Every time he saw my children he would have m&m’s for them. When my husband saw his picture he immediately knew it was Stephen, because he always folded his baseball hat down the middle. He was always very friendly, charming and fun to be around. Other family members enjoyed his company as well. He was so fun. I have to say that I am so sorry his life ended up the way it did. I’d never wish that anyone live there life the way he did, and we always wondered where he was, and what he was up to…
    . I am so sorry he felt like a lost sole. However, I am glad he did share his life with a girlfriend and fine neighbors, and was not totally alone. I feel for his children. His children were so lucky that there mom, my sister, met a wonderful man who fathered them like his very own. However, the children will always have a special place in there heart for Stephen. RIP and God’s speed… Everyone will miss you!

  4. Like many people in the neighborhood, I bet, my observations of Stephen predated my increasingly frequent interactions with him by quite a long time. One thing that I noticed–as others certainly did–was that he was a voracious reader, and of books on a wide variety of subjects. He liked mystery novels, adventure stories, and science fiction, from what I recall, and also anything that could add knowledge to his mind and soul. I think anything could catch his attention and interest, which was one reason why his sensations of what was happening in the park–and in local people’s lives–were so deep, important, and touching.

    A few other comments made right after his passing were spot on: The park, which has come a long way just in the past decade-plus, will be a less safe and less community-bound place without Stephen there, at least for the time being. He knew many people, and many knew him–increasingly rare in a community where people move more and more often. That so many remembrances reflect his friendliness and kindness is a testament to his contributions to a neighborhood under increasing assault by economic stresses, and by ongoing movements of aimless gang elements, including the likely assailants that gutlessly took advantage of Stephen months ago.

    Some may have thought that Stephen’s presence was like that of an “occupier” in the park–this might be a view shared by “park purists” who worry endlessly about their property values–but he never seemed to begrudge anyone using the space where he often was, whether skateboarders or large groups of party-goers (who inevitably left trash in their wake–which Stephen himself never did or would). I will take an “occupying” force like Stephen–a force of nature, a wave of good tidings, and a spirit of optimism–over an empty corner, where anything can happen and be filled by anything, anytime.

  5. I worked with Stephen in Massachusetts in 1993 / 1994. His company, “Comp-Shooters” was a consultant to the company where I was working as a contractor. I recently came across a document that Stephen had sent to the company management… since it had been so long (now 2012) I thought I’d look for Stephen on FaceBook and elsewhere. That’s how I got the news of his demise. I knew Stephen as a knowledgeable computer network engineer, who helped me learn more about networking, which in turn helped me greatly later in life to get a job with IBM.

  6. I worked with Stephen as a computer operator at Digital in the late 1970s. I remember him as full of life and being head-over-heels in love with “Joanie.” He was someone who was full of dreams and used to say that we would all be driving hovercraft cars one day (which earned him the name Hovercraft when we wanted to tease him). I changed jobs and lost touch with him, but ran into him a few years later at a nearby restaurant, where he and Joan and their new baby were dining. He told me that he had started a software company, and as he talked, I saw that his eyes were still full of dreams. I stumbled across the story of his death quite by accident, and am deeply saddened that he met such a tragic end. My prayers are with his family.

    • Lynda – thank you for your thoughts. It is such a tragic end to a man with such wonderful promise. Stephen and I had three beautiful children. Brent, our middle one, has been to the park to meet with people who came to know Stephen. And, just this past January, Kara (the new baby you met) had a baby girl.
      I do hope that life has treated you well.

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