Michael Jay Steffen died unexpectedly on Thursday, May 18, 2023 due to complications from surgery.
Born in Livingston on May 1, 1953, to Russell and Mary Steffen, Mike was the second of three children. The family lived near Green Acres. His father Russell worked for Northern Pacific, and his mother Mary cared for the family. From an early age, Mike loved being outdoors and enjoying everything his home state had to offer, including hiking and camping, and joining his father on packtrips (which did nothing to dissuade him from a dislike of horses).
In high school, Mike had a large group of friends, many of whom he still remained close with today, and he graduated from Park High in 1971. Beginning in high school, he formed longtime friendships with members of the Rehmer family, which inspired him to move to Momence, Illinois in 1973. During this time he worked at Baker and Taylor, a book distribution service. He loved the work and enjoyed this time in his life immensely, but he returned to Livingston in November 1974 following the unexpected passing of his father. He would call Livingston home for the rest of his life.
Upon returning to Livingston, he went to work for Burlington Northern on the section crew. He married Tina Sharpe in 1976, and the couple raised three children together. Mike chose to leave BN in 1987 and spent some years at home caring for his children. An avid baseball enthusiast, Mike enjoyed coaching the teams of all three of his children in baseball and softball for many years. He also enjoyed taking his two labs for daily river visits to the Yellowstone, especially at 9th Street Island (before it was fenced off). In 1989, he began work at Counterpoint, where he was still working part-time at the time of his passing. He formed many close relationships with the Counterpoint residents and employees, and he was a treasured member of their family.
In 2002, Mike chose to explore summer employment in Yellowstone National Park, and it quickly became his happy place. He would work 12 summer seasons as well as a couple of winter seasons. He spent the bulk of his seasons managing Employee Pubs where he made many friends from all over the world. Many of his years were spent at Old Faithful, but his last few seasons were spent at Yellowstone Lake, which was his favorite place in the park.
An account of Mike’s life would be incomplete without mention of his love for music. Anyone who knew Mike knew of his passion for his favorite musicians and his incredible collection of records, many of which he found at the Livingston JC Penney, and he remembered the dates of every record he purchased. He loved classic folk and rock music, including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, John Prine, and especially Bob Dylan, but he was also an avid listener of more contemporary music, such as Ani DiFranco and Courtney Barnett. He frequented Mountune’s (and later Conley’s Music) in Livingston to build his also-impressive CD collection. Immediately after Thanksgiving, he was always eager to pull out his collection of classic Christmas vinyl, and he was particularly fond of Bing Crosby, making it a point to watch Holiday Inn every year.
Mike loved Livingston. A man of routine, he treasured his daily trips to Coffee Crossing and walks through Sacajawea Park. He also loved the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Celtics. In remembrance of Mike, please root for the Celtics this postseason!
A few weeks ago, Mike celebrated his 70th birthday at a party with a large group of friends and family in attendance. He was so grateful for the celebration and said it was one of the best birthdays of his entire life.
Mike Steffen is preceded in death by his parents Russell and Mary, and his brother-in-law Stanley Gray. He is survived by his older sister Vickie Ebert (Ron) of Coos Bay, Oregon; his younger sister Phyllis Gray, of Eugene, Oregon; his son Russell (Lindsey Pennell) of Livingston; his daughter Addie (Ned Swofford) of Corvallis, Oregon; and his daughter Emma (Kyle Boling) of Ennis, Montana, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by a 4-year-old grandson, Brooks Boling, of Ennis, whom he showered with cards and gifts for every occasion, big or small, and who loved him very much.
A celebration of life will be held for Mike at the Elks Lodge in Livingston, MT on Saturday, July 29, 2023 @ 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family requests that you honor Mike by supporting a local coffee shop, bookstore, or music store, or by providing a donation to Counterpoint in his name.