Our hearts are all extremely heavy today as we mourn the passing of our friend and coworker, Steve Mader.
Steve was one of Smoky Lake’s first employees, joining our team while we were still working out of a residential garage.
It was just a few months ago, that the entire Smoky Lake crew — including Steve — was volunteering together at the Brillion Nature Center to remove their old boardwalk. Steve was kicking butt that day. He seemed strong and healthy and we were all in great spirits. It was a great day.
However, just a few short weeks after that volunteering event, Steve suffered from a severe, unexpected stroke during a camping trip with his family. Despite some setbacks, we remained optimistic throughout the summer that he would eventually make a full recovery. He was a strong guy. Of course he’d be back… Right? Unfortunately, we are now facing the harsh reality that this chapter has come to an end. All hopes are dashed. It’s a punch to the gut.
The day following Steve’s passing, The Brillion Nature Center hosted a grand opening ceremony for the newly-renovated trail. This is the same trail project that Steve had contributed to this past Spring. Jim and I visited the trail later that evening after the crowds dissipated. It was quiet and peaceful, and the air was crisp. As we padded gently down the boardwalk, Steve was heavy on our mind. It was a visceral experience knowing that Steve’s hands helped make that trail a reality. Steve is a part of that place. It felt like he was there with us.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Brillion Nature Center, we encourage you to walk the Marsh Platform Trail. At the risk of sounding corny, please say a few words for Steve while you are out there. Thank him for his hard work. We are confident that he will be able to hear you and he will appreciate your kind words.
At the time of this writing, the funeral has not yet been scheduled. However, if need be, Smoky Lake will be closed that day so that our team can pay their respects and mourn the loss of this great friend.
Steve, we will miss you. Rest in peace, dear friend. You will never be forgotten.
—Angela Schumacher, Owner & Creative Director at Smoky Lake Maple Products