By Kassidy Hall | Echo
Scott Steckenrider, department chair and professor of engineering, passed away on Thursday, April 19, after battling cancer for over a year and a half.
Steckenrider will be remembered not only as a professor, but as a father, husband, colleague, friend, a man of faith and much more. He is survived by his wife, Karen, and children Josiah ('16), Elizabeth ('17) and Joy ('19).
This semester, Josiah filled in for his father in the engineering and physics department as Scott battled cancer. Josiah is now teaching at Taylor while pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech.
As Josiah toured campus as a prospective student many years ago, he and his father visited with engineering and physics faculty several times over the course of a few months. For his freshman year in college, Josiah attended Illinois College. It wasn't until the fall of 2013, when Scott joined the faculty, that Josiah transferred into Taylor as a sophomore.
"It was so evident through the whole process that God's hand of providence brought us here," Josiah said. "If we were to have planned it out, my dad would have been here until he retired of old age, having thoroughly and tirelessly shared Christ with every student possible for years to come. But the Lord's plan, though shocking and heartbreaking, is fundamentally better. My dad ran towards Taylor and the plan that God had for him here, and he followed through on that race to the very end."
Ken Kiers, professor of physics, recalled meeting Scott when he visited Taylor with Josiah. In 2013, Kiers also observed Scott immediately become an active proponent of the physics and engineering program, as he taught and tirelessly met with prospective students and their parents.
According to Kiers, Scott always welcomed students into his office, not just regarding physics but to hang out and chat. Scott implemented an open-door policy and often did his work at home in the evening so that he could be available during the day to talk to students.
"It was a great honor to work alongside him in our department over these past five years," Kiers said. "Our department is deeply indebted to him. As I think about Scott, the image that immediately comes to mind is his smile and his ready laugh. Even during his illness, he always tried to make the situation as good as possible for everyone else. His trust in his Lord and Savior was very evident during this past year and a half."
His wife Karen noted Scott's intentionality of faith in several aspects of his life. Since his beginning pains in 2016, Karen said her husband never once complained to anyone about his illness, never had a "pity party" and never questioned God.
In addition to his love for and devotion to his students, Scott was known for putting family first. Sometimes these areas merged, as Karen enjoyed hosting Taylor students in her home for a range of events.
"Scott and I fell in love on our first date; we were best friends," Karen said. "I never doubted his commitment and love for me. Our marriage always came first after God. In fact, he told me after he was given six months to live, that he was incredibly sad that he was going to die and leave me alone and leave our marriage covenant and leave our one unmarried daughter. He was my earthly protector and he always made me feel safe and taken care of. In fact, when we were preparing his memorial service, which we did with him while he was alive, he didn't want just a picture of himself, he wanted a picture of the two of us because we are 'one flesh.'"
Karen testified that Scott upheld his life motto of "Soli Deo Gloria" until his final days, which translates into "Glory to God alone." Karen additionally remembered his endless love for family, reflecting on how he meticulously helped their three children through their home-schooled education, especially in the math and science areas.
Joy, a junior at Taylor, remembered often stopping by her father's office while on campus. Sometimes she visited him for homework help or to chat, or to grab candy from a drawer he had hidden just for her.
"I have always said that he is the only reason I've made it this far through college, and I definitely owe my degree to him," Joy said. "His discernment is for sure what I will miss the most. Last fall, I had an assignment for a class which was heavily opinionated, and I didn't know what I believed. I knew my dad would know exactly what I should say, so I texted him to ask for help. He was in so much pain from the cancer and probably did not feel like helping me on a small (and) seemingly unimportant paper, but still, he didn't hesitate and immediately called me to make sure I understood everything. It wasn't a crazy special moment and it was just a 30-minute phone call, but it's the perfect example of who he was. He was always ready to help and listen, even if that meant extra pain for him."
All faculty, students, staff and community members are encouraged to attend a memorial service celebrating the life of Scott on Sunday, April 29, 2018, at 2:30 p.m., in the Euler Atrium.