Steve joined Lack & Daily over 13 years ago.  During that time, our relationship grew into a very deep and valued friendship. We shared a lot of laughs…and some tears.  In many ways, Steve touched me and my soul like no other person ever has.

Reading the sentiments expressed on the Close family website is an amazing tribute to Steve.  He has touched us all in so many ways.   Among the many beautiful sentiments, Steve was remembered as being kind, patient, loving and courageous.  Several remembered him as having that “twinkle” in his eye.  I must say that I think I know what they mean. 

Steve, as many of you know, could be quite the prankster.  I’m reminded of an incident that took place at Lack & Daily.  Steve had not been at our company very long before we held our annual Holiday Party.  I should share with you, that when we party at Lack & Daily, we party. This particular year, we all stayed at a hotel in Stamford. We were a bit concerned about Steve and Barbara – would they fit in – would they understand? The celebration lasted well into the evening and a few of the very strong stayed up until 3 in the morning.  Steve and Barbara remained among them.  Well, someone persuaded the front desk receptionist to place a 5 AM wake-up call to one of the late night revelers.  No one owned up to the prank; but later at breakfast, I’m pretty sure I saw that “twinkle” in the Closeman’s eye.

Steve had a wonderfully expressive smile and he enjoyed bringing his brand of levity to the office. All of us, at one point or another, became victim to his quips and practical jokes. Every now and then, Steve would take a wad of paper that he had fashioned into a paper snowball, and fire it across the office hitting his prey squarely in the noggin.  Steve, being Steve, would quickly turn around hoping that no one had noticed.  Of course, we all knew it was Steve. If for no other reason, no one else in the office had that kind of aim from 25 feet away.

As a lot of you know, Steve was quite a good athlete.  He was an excellent golfer and even a better tennis player.  He also loved to coach.  He would often share with me his joy in coaching Katy, Haley and Charlie’s soccer and basketball teams. Steve had a great love for all the children he coached.  He was the type of person you hoped that your son or daughter would get as a coach because he taught life lessons as well as the fundamentals of any given sport.

This past August, I was quite surprised that Steve asked me if we could get together to play golf with Barbara and my wife, Nancy. At that point, Steve did not have much stamina and he had difficulty walking. But, Steve’s will and determination were absolutely amazing.  To see him so happy, talking to his ball in flight, coaxing it away from the tree line, still makes me smile inside. 

After looking at my golf swing, Steve tried to teach me the importance of achieving good tempo when swinging a club. He may not have realized it, but through example, he also taught me the importance of maintaining the right tempo in life.  Steve was so well-balanced and had such good perspective.  He was the go-to guy at Lack & Daily and everybody knew it.  He had an uncanny ability to see through complex issues and come up with just the right answers.  Of course for Steve, a good tempo requires a sense of humor and his wit was razor-sharp.  One only had to listen to one of his roasts or top-ten lists to appreciate that. 

Steve was so proud of Katy, Haley and Charlie.  He has shared their many athletic and academic accomplishments with me through the years.

However, he was most proud of who they are as people and the kindness and goodness that they show to others.  His love for Barbara was so evident, and he often talked of their travels together.  In fact, we at Lack & Daily would even seek Steve’s advice when we were looking for a new vacation spot or a different restaurant to try.  You could always trust his counsel;   on that – and everything else for that matter!

It is easy to see why so many remembered Steve as such a kind person. He was patient and loving and always listened to other’s problems with great compassion and empathy.  Steve was incredibly well-respected; and as loyal a friend as anyone could ever have. He was one-of-a-kind -- just look around and you can see the outpouring of love that he inspired. 

I must say, however, that during the past few years I saw a side of Steve that I hadn’t known. We all knew him as good natured and having a gentle spirit.  What I learned was that he was one of the toughest, strongest-minded individuals whom I would ever meet. His resolve was absolute.  I had no idea that he possessed such incredible grit. He courageously took on his dreadful and despicable illness head-on, with a Herculean amount of guts and determination. I will always admire him for that.

Now, Steve’s courage, kindness and grace have taken residence in our hearts and minds; and will be a guiding light forever.