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Obituary: Steven Charles Houck

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Steven Charles Houck

Steven Charles Houck, 69, died August 5, 2023 at his Casper home, surrounded by his loving family after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.  Steve is remembered as generous, devoted, loving, kind, handy, silly, reliable, enthusiastic, fun-loving and more than anything—selfless.

Steve (“Schteve”/“Grampa”/“Papa”) was born in North Platte Nebraska to Marie Joan and Melvin Charles Houck on September 1, 1953.  The eldest son of nine children, he was raised by his mother and step-father, Thomas Nelson, in Casper, Wyoming and he attended Grant Elementary, East Junior High and Kelly Walsh High School.  

In 1970, Steve began working at Hilltop Bowling Alley, where his mother nudged him to work up the nerve to speak to coworker and recent California transplant Mary Louise Wedlock.  Four months later, Steve and Mary began dating and were soon married on June 24, 1972.  Having both come from very large families, the happy couple wasted no time starting a family of their own, and by 1986 they had six children — Shawn, Mary Beth, Joseph, Andrew, Katie and Michael.  And though he welcomed the news of each new pregnancy, Mary recalls Steve panicking a bit when she first told him they were expecting their fifth (Katie) — mostly because he was concerned about needing more than two sets of hands to wrangle all the kids if they ever again ventured outside of their home.

Throughout his life, Steve worked unbelievably hard to support his growing family, starting with a 19-year stint at Pathfinder Mine (1973-1992), followed by a 23-year career at Sinclair Oil Refinery (1992-2015).  In each of these companies, Steve earned the trust and respect of the folks he worked with, some of whom dubbed him “Superman” for his ability to handle anything under any circumstance.  Looking out for the people he worked with was always his highest priority, and he was honored to be invited to literally “write the book” on operations and procedures for the crew following his retirement in 2015.

Despite 43 years of shift work, Steve never complained about the physical or mental demands of his schedule, choosing instead to prioritize his family’s happiness above his own.  Whenever he could, he attended his children and grandchildren’s school programs, wrestling meets, basketball games, football games, volleyball matches, baseball games, plays, concerts and recitals—usually sacrificing precious hours of his own sleep.  He also made time for countless driveway basketball games, football tosses, card games, home improvement projects, woodworking projects, landscaping projects, vehicle repairs, fishing trips, fossil hunting excursions, camping trips, family gatherings and more.  Especially memorable to his children and grandchildren was his dedication to building and maintaining a large backyard swimming pool for their enjoyment–a pool that he rarely relaxed in himself!

When Steve did take time for himself, he enjoyed a variety of hobbies including fishing, bowling, camping, racquetball, weight lifting, wood working and travel.  He always invited his friends and family to join him in these activities, especially when it came to travel — Steve and Mary generously planned and funded several family vacations for all the kids and grandkids including cruises, family vacations in Mexico, California beach house rentals, Las Vegas excursions and Disney theme park visits.  

The joy Steve got from facilitating everyone else’s fun was contagious, matched only by the joy he found in taking care of the people he loved.  More often than not, whenever Steve was photographed, he was seen holding at least one of his grandchildren.  He especially delighted in making them laugh with his spot-on Donald Duck impression.  His devotion to his children knew no boundaries, and his willingness to change a tire, help with a move, repair a broken appliance, troubleshoot a sprinkler system, clean up a flooded basement or babysit a grandchild was never more than a phone call (or text) away.  

Following his retirement in 2015, Steve began a chapter of his life dedicated to MORE travel, MORE family time and MORE service to his family.  His travels with his beloved wife Mary took him across the country several times over, notching visits to 48 states by plane, car or RV.  One of his favorite trips was an 8,000 mile trek in his motor home that included stops at the Great Lakes and coast of Maine.  He also embarked on dozens of camping trips with his wife, children, grandchildren and friends in the Big Horn Mountains, the Black Hills, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier and many other national parks.

In addition to his parents, Steve was preceded in death by his sisters, Sherry and Connie and his brothers, Ronnie and Jay.  He is survived by his wife, Mary; his children, Shawn Steven (Ami), Mary Beth Maston, Joseph Steven (Amy), Andrew Steven (Stephanie), Katie Marie Hans (Mathew) and Michael Steven (Brittney); his grandchildren, Samuel Joseph, Dominick Steven, Brecken Michael, Brody Andrew, Quinn Marie, Lily Angeline, Eli Keaton, Emery Nichole, Sawyer Rose, Ophelia Ann, Ella Marie Hans and Liam Jacob; his siblings Karen Sharclane (Harry), Kathy Houck,  Laura Mayo (David) and Susan Niegisch (Paul); and many loving aunts, uncles, nephews, cousins, nieces and friends.

At Steve’s request, no memorial services will be held, but a celebration of his life will take place from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m on Saturday, August 12 at 627 West Yellowstone in Casper.  Anyone who knew Steve or his family is invited to stop by to share a story or raise a glass to this incredible father, brother, grandfather, friend, uncle, son and spouse.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those wishing to honor Steve’s memory do so by either making a donation to Casper’s True Care (a pro-life women’s resource center at truecarecasper.org), paying it forward (doing something nice and unexpected for a friend or stranger) or supporting St. Anthony’s Tri-Parish School (sascasper.com).