Stephen P. Hale (1931 - 2008)

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Stephen P. Hale, 77, affectionately called "Poppy" by his family, entered into his rest on Nov. 16, 2008, at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. Steve was born to Anthony Winston and Eleanor Cunningham Hale on July 31, 1931, in Savannah, Ga., where he spent the early part of his life. Though he spent but a brief 17 years there, he was a "Georgia Boy" for the rest of his life. Even in his declining years the song "Georgia on My Mind" would bring a smile to his face.

Steve served as a cryptographer in the United States Army in Frankfurt, Germany, during the Korean conflict. While in Frankfurt he met Wally Morris, who introduced him to the LDS Church. That event inexorably changed the direction of his life. Thereafter, with the assistance of the GI Bill, he attended Brigham Young University.

While attending BYU, he found the two loves of his life. The first and only true love is his wife of 55 years, Afton Gherdenna Hulet "Denna." They met at a mental institution where they both worked, and, as he loved to say, he "has been crazy about her ever since." The second love of his life was journalism. He was the editor of The Brigham Young Universe, the daily BYU student newspaper. In 1956 he graduated from BYU with a major in educational journalism and minors in English and political science.

After completing college Steve returned to Georgia with his growing family. During that period of his life he wrote a column for the Savannah Evening Press titled "Around Savannah with Steve Hale." He was also a correspondent for the United Press. In 1960 he decided to stake his claim in the West, in Salt Lake City. For the next decade he worked for the Deseret Evening News. He wrote two daily human interest columns - "Hale and Hearty" and "Steve Hale's People." In those columns he would often chronicle tales of his odyssey of raising a brood of eight children. As he reported on incidents occurring in the lives of his children, they learned two important facts about journalism: never let the truth get in the way of a good story and only believe half (or less) of what you read in the newspaper.

When the wages of a journalist could no longer support his burgeoning clan, he devoted his passion to serving education and its most important agents - teachers. He served as the director of public relations of the Utah Education Association from 1969 until 1996, when he retired.

Steve was a man with a social conscience and taught his family that it is important to not only tolerate others, but to accept them, care for them and fight for them whenever there was injustice. When Caesar Chavez organized a boycott against grape farmers to protest low pay for migrant workers, Steve's family did not eat grapes. He taught his children to remember, respect and honor the hands that toiled to harvest the grapes.

When Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, Steve made certain his entire family attended a memorial service for Dr. King. He supported his children's participation in moratoria to end the Vietnam War, insisting that they read "All Quiet on the Western Front." He was proud to serve on the board of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, now known as the National Conference for Community and Justice. Along with the NCCJ he helped organize Utah's "Camp Anytown," a program that is designed to promote social change - focusing on awareness of diversity, social justice and personal empowerment for teens. He had a firm belief that one person doing the right thing for the right reason at the right time could bring positive change to the world. He stood up for what is right, no matter the cost and served those in need, no matter his own circumstances.

Steve served in many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The callings he loved most were those in which he could give aid and comfort to the sick and poor.

Steve is survived by his devoted and beloved wife of 55 years, Denna; eight children, Sandra Kline, Sissy (Dave) Hooper, Steve (Kathy) Hale, Lisa (Rick) McMillan, David (Tina) Hale, Meg (Larry) Holman, Stephanie (Fred) Metos, and Craig (Jenny) Hale; 24 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Steve is also survived by his sisters, Margaret and Charlotte.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Eleanor; father, Anthony; sister, Francis Hale; and granddaughter, Kelly Kline.

The family members express their heartfelt gratitude to Legacy Hospice.

An open house will be held in Steve's honor from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the 27th East Ward Chapel. Funeral services will be held at noon Thursday, Nov. 20, at the 27th East Ward Chapel, 185 "P" St.

In lieu of sending flowers, please extend a helping hand to someone in need.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 19, 2008
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