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Stephen Magruder

1961 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Stephen Magruder Obituary
Stephen Magruder


The Heart of a Hero

Steve Magruder unexpectedly died from a stroke. Clinically, legally, his brain stopped May 2, 2014, 3:53 PM. But his heart continued beating. Life went on until May 3, 2014, at 8:30 PM.

Typical. So typical of my brother Steve—that his heart outlasted his brain.

Maybe that's the way it should be… for the heart to occasionally guide our lives, leading with passion to override reason, love to surpass logic, joy to mask pain, and caring to conquer rationality. Great and powerful emotions originate from a beating heart. My brother believed this to be true, just like mom and dad taught him. This was his special gift—a heart greater than all others and one inspired for giving.

The truth of someone's life shouldn't be defined by the fleeting moment of death, but with Steve it was. His entire life could be sufficiently summed up by his death and those few, precious, life-saving hours that immediately followed. It was a moment of choices, requiring a compassionate heart to guide heroic decisions.

Miraculous and generous hearts like my brother's carry an unfortunate price. The heart can't be exposed without experiencing great pain. The world can be a very tortured place for a life moved by a tender heart. Unfortunately, there's a price that accompanies sacrifice and a balance to the choices we make.

Choices, the whole world is full of choices. Steve's entire life was full of compassionate choices with a passion for repairing life. Tending to others completed him like gardening and fixing bicycles. My heart-filled brother loved a good stray, didn't matter if it was an animal without a home or a person without a path. His life was dedicated to protecting and nurturing needful things.

The day of his death involved choices for those that loved him—a choice to define the end of his life and a choice for him to be a hero… such easy choices knowing my brother.

Steve loved to laugh, not a belly rolling laugh, more of a whiskey grin. Like the time he fastened a clothes pin on his sister-in-law's toe, or as child when he rolled his lips and pulled his ears. His smirk defined him. Deciding to terminate his heart once his brain failed was easy, because I don't think you're alive anymore if you can't laugh and he couldn't grin.

The choice to sacrifice his body was an easy decision. Typical Steve—he was a hero, someone accustomed to giving until his soul couldn't give anymore. My brother saved three people after he died all thanks to his powerful heart that kept the body alive so that his organs could be donated to repair lives worth saving.

Empowering someone to live after losing something important is a miracle. Life is a miracle. Death can be a miracle and a blessing—such a hard thing to remember.

Many people loved Steve's heart and his heart loved many people—many… too numerous to mention, too numerous to list. It's not so much where you land on a list after someone dies, but where you belong on the list during their life. For those that loved him… unconditionally. I'm certain his heart thanks you.

Memorials are asked to be sent to the Animal Humane Society of Perry.

Published in Des Moines Register on May 6, 2014
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