STEPHEN STUART BAITS, 88 ROCKFORD - Stephen Stuart Baits, 88, died peacefully Monday morning, September 2, 2013. Known by his friends and family as Steve, he was born and raised by his parents, Stuart and Vera Baits in Grosse Pointe Park, MI. At age 18, he joined the Army
, rising to Staff Sergeant during WWII. Steve graduated from the University of Michigan
, where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He came to Rockford in 1950 to take a position at Sundstrand Machine Tool Co. A natural Engineer, Steve loved his work and was devoted to it. He remained at Sundstrand for his entire career, retiring as the VP of Engineering in 1988 with many patents (and great stories) to his name. In Rockford, Steve met and married his life partner, Dorothy Voss, on March 1, 1952. Devoted parents, Steve and Dorothy raised four children - Cynthia, Paul, Martha and Amy - first in a house in Cherry Valley and later moving to a home they built in Rockford, on a four acre spread of land. Their Rockford home had a large workshop where Steve could indulge his lifelong interest in mechanics and woodworking. Steve and his family loved to be outdoors, and took frequent road trips to camp, boat and visit points of interest around the country. Always the Engineer, Steve often appeared more interested in the gear than the sights, but his sense of humor was ever present. In addition to traveling the world with Dorothy, Steve derived great joy through their support of local environmental, cultural and educational organizations. Steve is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; four children, Cynthia (David) House, Paul (Teri) Baits, Martha (Gerald) Lemke, and Amy (Steven) Waranauskas; and grandchildren, Anne, Stephen, and Catherine House, Stuart and Rachel Baits, and Marie and Jennifer Lemke. He was predeceased by his parents and by his sister, Jane Baits Shedd. Steve was always surrounded by valued colleagues, friends, extended family and finally the caregivers at Anam Care, and we are grateful to all who touched his life and made it richer through their presence. A visitation is planned from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 14, 2013, at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, 1860 S. Mulford Road. Private family services at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials to Natural Land Institute, 230 S. 3rd St., Rockford, IL 61104 or Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, 946 N. 2nd St., Rockford, IL 61107.