by Peggy Coquet
When I met Steve in 1968, I thought he was a wild biker outlaw, and I was enchanted. My own father had decided family life was too much when I was 5 years old and my mother was recovering from polio. So in my book, any man who sticks around, pays the bills and lends a hand with family life is tremendous. Steve does all that, and so much more.
Nearly every winter he takes his current beater car and pushes, drags or nudges someone out of a snow bank. In non-snow months, he’s quick with jumper cables and tire-changing help. He grins with pardonable pride when his rusty, old-enough-to-vote Toyota or Ford station wagon is able to extract some much newer vehicle from a tough spot.
One rainy fall night Steve was returning from a hunting trip when he spotted a stranded motorist. The man had his two young children with him on their way to the Oregon Coast to meet his wife. His car had died, and he had no way to call her, no money for alternate transportation.
Steve loaded the three of them plus their overnight needs in his car and headed for home. The father was not a pretty sight: long-haired, bearded, wearing a Harley-Davidson tee-shirt and jeans. He looked like a villain in a biker movie. But his care for his children was obvious.
Steve fed them, gave the man a phone to call his wife, and arranged bedding, asking our children to double-up to make room for them. As the grown-ups headed for bed, the father said, hesitantly, “I’m carrying a handgun. I’d like for you to hold on to it while we stay with you. I want you to feel safe.”
Steve looked at him for a brief moment, then said, “I feel safe with you. Keep it.” In the morning, his wife came to pick them up. They wanted to pay, but Steve refused. For years they sent cards and small gifts at Christmas.
Steve helped our nephews fix their cars, move, and stored their belongings when they went to college. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our daughter’s friends, teaching them to change oil and repair their brakes.
In 2001 he drove a high school friend of our daughter’s 175 miles — just to see if he could fix her car. He couldn’t; he said it was the kind of repair that needed someone with the proper tools and training. He helped her arrange to get the car home and sell it.
After 30 years of marriage, I know Steve is more than a “wild biker outlaw”. He’s also intelligent, able to hold his own whether arguing against capital punishment for criminals, or corporal punishment for children. He’s generous and accepting of all sorts of people. I’m eternally grateful to him that, in contrast to my childhood, my own children have such a wonderful father and inspiring role model. Steve helps us all strive to be a little better.