How does one properly describe Lloyd Stueve?
For the better part of the last week I have pondered this question. While, I haven’t seen it, I’m completely certain his family has done an amazing job of doing just that in his obituary which may be found in this very issue.
Staring at the blinking cursor, waiting for the right words to come to mind, my first thoughts are of the physical Lloyd. Lloyd was a man, whose eyes smiled. His voice soft and unassuming. His stature strong and impressive.
It was his love for his wife and family, his passion for them, as well as his work ethic and dedication to community and his love of wagons which I remember the most.
For those who didn’t know Lloyd he was a man of great success, to meet him however you would have little idea. Lloyd absolutely loved to share stories of his family and his wagon adventures.
Now 20 years into this job, I honestly can’t recall exactly when our paths first crossed. It was long before his starring role with Oakdale’s Downtown Christmas. I know for sure it was to talk about a trail ride of some nature. Lloyd loved taking those wagons out for those trail rides.
While the community journalist in me was both fascinated and interested in sharing the story of the family’s successful dairy business, that always seemed to get put off. Years later, my editor Marg Jackson was finally able to give the family business a proper nod in our 209 Magazine.
Lloyd was indeed a proud man, yet he was humble.
There was never a time when we would cross paths in Starbucks that he wouldn’t ask how I had been, how my children were and then proceed with a story of something he thought “you might find this interesting.”
I loved Lloyd.
There’s just no other way to say it. He was the type of man that made everybody, feel like a somebody.
Case in point, Lloyd was without a doubt the most popular destination of Oakdale’s Annual Downtown Christmas Event. Each year, he’d solicit the help of Santa Claus, tune up his wagon, prep a few horses and head to town from his family ranch.
I still recall the lines of people awaiting their turn for the opportunity of a wagon ride with Santa through Oakdale. Lloyd loved sharing his passion with others. He especially loved seeing the joy on the faces of the children, as well as the wholesomeness of the family gathering.
Jovial would be a word which would come to mind as I remember this one of a kind human. He and his wife Nancy raised four children who exemplify the type of people they were themselves. Through the years, I’ve had both the honor and privilege to cross paths with each of them, be it socially through our children or professionally through their work. Each hard working, driven and community minded; no surprise.
So last week, as I received the text from his daughter Betsy, my world stopped for a moment and my heart sunk. I had known Lloyd hadn’t been well for some time, he and I both shared some health battles during the COVID shutdown and Betsy was kind enough to keep me on the “in” of “how dad was doing.”
Finality however is never easy. In this job it becomes increasingly difficult as I watch true legends of our community cross over to the peacefulness of Heaven. It’s a void I can’t quite describe (and I’ve had 20 years now to try and do just that).
The reality is, I know there are many, wonderful, selfless souls in this community I may never meet. Even still, it’s a rarity that I use this space to document those I have.
Lloyd however was more than … a guy I did a story about. He somehow left me, as well as my children with the feeling of a distant Uncle. He felt like family, that was just his nature.
How does one end a column about a person they wish never left? That’s the tough part.
What I know for sure, is his pain is now eased. He is whole again. The void within the Stueve camp will be deeply felt for many years to come. Yet legends never truly die. Through the faces, hearts and drive of his children and theirs the legend of Lloyd will live on.
You are truly missed my friend … happy trails.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.