We received the terrible news yesterday that our friend Mike Steffen, who was a fellow instructor at Life on Wheels, was killed Monday, in Salt Flat, Texas.
Mike was a volunteer with the county’s volunteer emergency services and his wife Pam said that he was responding to a request for help from the local ambulance service. Driving up the gravel county road to meet the ambulance at the highway, Mike lost control of his car. It rolled once and he was thrown from the vehicle. The ambulance crew was less than a mile away and spotted the dust from the accident. They rushed to the scene and did everything they could, but his injuries were too severe. By the time the medical air evac arrived, he was gone.
Besides his work with Life on Wheels, Mike was a columnist with RV.Net, using the handle The Old Ranger. He was a technical editor for the Thousand Trails Trail Blazer magazine, and his articles appeared frequently in Trailer Life, Motorhome and Highways magazines. Mike also co-authored and assisted in the writing of several books on RV maintenance and repair.
Mike served with the U.S. Army for over 20 years, including with the Special Forces, and served combat tours in Vietnam. After retiring from the Army, he spent ten years with the Department of Defense, working in Europe as a computer systems engineer.
Terry and I first met Mike when we went to Life on Wheels as students in 1999, and a few months later when I was drafted into presenting my first seminar at an RV rally and was terrified to get up in front of a crowd and speak, I called Mike in a panic. He reassured me, saying “Just remember, those people came to hear what you have to say, and they have no idea you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” Yeah, that was my friend Mike.
We visited Mike a couple of times at his homestead out in the boondocks of west Texas. It was a great place to hide out from the world for a few days, shoot our guns on his private range, and get my puppy fix from the menagerie of canines that live on his acreage.
I just talked to Mike a few weeks ago, and he asked if we were going to stop by on our trip to Arizona. We were eager to get here so I begged off, but promised him that we’d stop on our next trip through his area. How often do all of us put something off, because there is always tomorrow? Unfortunately, tomorrow sometimes never comes around, and the people we love won’t always be here.
Once we were over the shock of the tragic news, both Terry and I said the same thing; Mike died doing what he loved. Flying down the road full speed ahead, rushing to help somebody else in need. That’s the way he lived his life as a soldier, as a teacher, and as a volunteer. Our world is a lonelier place with Mike gone, but today Heaven has a new hero.
Rest in peace, Mike. Your duty here is done.
Thought For The Day – Friends are the family that God forgot to give us.