With sorrow we share that Stephen Edward Press, 70, passed away unexpectedly at his Portland home on January 21,2021. He leaves a devoted family and too many friends to count.
Stephen’s full life began in Hampton, VA. The youngest son of Harry and Sylvia Press, he and his brother, Dennis, had an idyllic childhood in the suburbs of the nation’s capital. The community afforded limitless opportunities for cultural activities and sports, summer BBQs with other families, and the beaches of Chesapeake Bay. Their close-knit family made annual trips to visit relatives in New York, and the boys loved spending summers at Camp Orinsekwa in the mountains near Albany. After high school in Bethesda, MD, Stephen began his higher education with a stint at Clark University. From there he transferred to UC Berkeley, arriving in the Bay Area with a guitar, an abiding love of The Grateful Dead, and a curious mind. He joined a houseful of like-minded people whom he impressed with his emerging cooking talents and his guitar licks.
One of these housemates, Linda Hughes, captured his interest and then his heart. Stephen fell hard for Linda and for the next fifty years they built on that love, crafting a remarkable and enduring marriage.
After earning his Bachelor’s from UC Berkeley, Stephen and Linda moved to Chico where he received a teaching certificate from Chico State. The young couple acquired a passion for gardening under the California sun. From then on, a garden would be planted wherever the Presses lived and the bounty shared with an ever-widening circle of friends and family. A teaching position in Redmond brought Stephen and Linda to Oregon. They bought a small acreage with a ramshackle house which they turned into a charming home complete with a garden and greenhouse. Stephen grew vegetables in the rocky soil, while nurturing the minds of his third graders. A ragtag bunch gathered at the Press farm for fence building parties and group dinners where Stephen happily fed everyone.
The Presses raised sheep, cows, dogs and cats. And one amazing human named Sara. Sara arrived in the spring of 1981 and Stephen described it as being lovestruck. As a dad, he was all in, and every decision made from then on was about what would be best for his family. Stephen was crazy about kids and a gifted teacher, but he was always game to challenge himself and was fascinated by electronic technology. After exhausting the course offerings in this field locally, Stephen and family moved to Portland to further his education and career in electronic engineering.
They settled in the Maplewood neighborhood for Sara’s school years, a place that reminded him of his happy childhood in Bethesda. The longer growing season and milder climate agreed with Stephen and he embraced the greater Portland community wholeheartedly.
While attending classes at Portland State, Stephen worked at Drake Willock and Tektronix. He received a Masters Degree from Oregon State University and spent the last two decades of his career at Maxim designing integrated circuits, a position that challenged his keen intellect and satisfied a strong creative impulse.
The career in high tech brought many rewards but the hours were long. When Stephen found himself able to retire in his early fifties, he and Linda decided to see the world. The journeys were too many to catalogue. They studied Spanish and explored Latin America, went scuba diving in the Caribbean, spent a month at wildlife parks in South Africa, and saw much of Europe, sampling the cuisine with gusto. Winter escapes to tropical climes were a regular thing. Every summer included a kayaking trip to the Puget sound or Canadian waters. Linda and Stephen’s last overseas adventure was a road trip in New Zealand in early 2020.
Stephen was a man of many talents, happiest when he was building something, especially if it required the purchase of new tools. He never saw a house that he didn’t want to remodel and he left his signature flourishes on every project. The Press home is furnished with his exquisite wood pieces. He plied the waters of the Northwest in his hand built cedar strip Kayak that turned heads and started conversations wherever he paddled.
The fullness of Stephen’s life was defined by the relationships that he kept strong. He maintained a loving bond with his parents and with Dennis’ family throughout his life. He was a dependable and generous friend. His most treasured roles were as Linda’s husband and Sara’s father.
Stephen Press will be sorely missed for his wit, his kindness, his gentleness, his good company, and not to forget, his cooking.
Stephen is survived by his wife, Linda, daughter, Sara, brother Dennis (Deena), nephew, Josh, and niece, Amber Franklin (Aaron).
At a later date, when we can gather, we will celebrate Stephen’s life.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Stephen’s honor to SMART Reading (https://smartreading.org/get-involved/donate/), The Forest Park Conservancy (https://forestparkconservancy.org/donate/) , or a charity of your choice.
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