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Stephen Wakefield


1940 - 2015
Stephen Wakefield Obituary
Stephen Alan Wakefield
1940-2015
Stephen Alan Wakefield and his wife Pam loved to dance. He continued dancing, eventually in a wheelchair, surrounded by a circle of women including his wife, through almost two decades of PLS (primary lateral sclerosis), a form of ALS. As the debilitating disease took over his legs, his voice and his hands, but not his courage, persistence or dazzling smile, his will to live simply took over his life. Steve died peacefully at home Monday, October 12.
Steve had a distinguished career in petroleum, power and energy in Texas and Washington, D.C. before settling in Atlanta where he was, most recently, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Southern Company from 1997 until retirement in 2005.
While living in Houston, he became active in the MD Anderson Cancer Center; Steve was a longtime and now life member of the board of trustees. After moving to Atlanta, he and his wife Pam were chosen to be the first honorary chairs of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's "Night of Hope" for ALS research and have remained active supporters.
Stephen Alan Wakefield was born Oct. 18, 1940 to George William and Lucille Sheesley Wakefield in Olney, Illinois. Growing up in Texas, Steve was a class leader, accomplished athlete and good student, graduating from Polytechnic Senior High School in Ft. Worth as a valued member of the baseball team and captain of the football team. He was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated summa cum laude.
He attended the University of Texas at Austin to which he remained a devoted fan and supporter. He was a member and president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He earned his law degree from the University of Texas in 1965 where he was a member of the Phi Delta Phi international legal honor society and associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Steve was also a member of Chancellors, the law school's most prestigious honor society. He graduated at the top of his class of 400.
Steve was first associated with the Baker Botts law firm in Houston. In 1970, he was appointed to Richard Nixon's administration in Washington, D.C. as Special Assistant to the General Counsel of the Federal Power Commission, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Energy and Mineral Affairs and Assistant Federal Energy Administrator for International Programs. In 1974, he returned to Baker Botts and became a partner representing major petroleum companies. He later returned to Washington to serve in the George H.W. Bush administration as General Counsel of the Energy Department and later worked for the Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld firm. He was a member of many legal and bar associations. He was a member of the River Oaks Country Club (Houston), the Chevy Chase Club (Chevy Chase, Maryland) and the Capital City Club here.
Steve was known to be generous, kind, honest, and driven to achieve. He was an energetic and active father, often playing basketball with or accompanied by an assortment of his children and friends on long bike rides, and his best times were spent with his family, whether playing Trivial Pursuit or just sunning by the pool.
Steve's first marriage was to Charlotte Ellen Branch with whom they had three children. He is survived by his wife Pam McGuire Wakefield and their "Brady Bunch" mix of children: Melissa Wakefield Hawley (Andrew) of Manassas, Virginia; Tracy Wakefield Southwick (Patrick) of London, England; Stephen Alan Wakefield, Jr. (Anne) of Austin, Texas; Selby William Sullivan (Cathy) of Oviedo, Florida; Tricia Sullivan Swen of Houston; and Mark Andrew Wakefield (Laura) of Atlanta. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren. He was proud of his children and grandchildren and loved them all.
Steve's two sisters ?Anne Wakefield Dews (Jerry) and Sally Wakefield Drechsel (Roland) of Dallas and his brother John Wakefield (Jan), all of Ft. Worth, also survive him, as do many beloved nieces and nephews in Texas. Steve also leaves behind one other attentive family member: Summer, a 1-year-old Golden Retriever.
Steve asked Pam to marry him at the top of Cathedral Mountain in Aspen and while living in Texas, their growing family vacationed there each year where Steve was an avid skier and mountain biker. His house in the Victorian section of Aspen was one of his few indulgences.
Before his illness, Steve would bound out of bed each morning to do 50 sit-ups and 50 push-ups; he ran three miles each day before dinner and nine to 12 miles on the weekends. He also played tennis regularly. He was an avid reader, loved devouring newspapers and was particularly interested in politics and history, especially the Civil War.
Steve was a fan of all things Texas, from margaritas and Mexican food to all the Texas teams, particularly the Houston Astros and Houston Oilers. He also loved Texas barbecue and Heinekens beer, finished off with strawberry ice cream in a cone or Key Lime pie. On a whimsical side, Steve showed up each Christmas at the neighborhood holiday party wearing the same red-checked cashmere jacket much to the delight and chagrin of his friends and family. Pam reportedly gave it away at one point but had to retrieve it to make Steve happy.
The family would like to thank Mary Alice Swift and Wanda Geer for their excellent care of Steve during his last months at home.
He was an active member of the St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Houston where his ashes will be buried in the Garden of the Resurrection. There will be a memorial service celebrating Steve in Houston, Texas on Wednesday, October 28, at 11 a.m. St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard 77019-5898, with a reception following. A memorial service in Atlanta was held at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, on Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests the following options:
• The Robert Packard Center for ALS research at Johns Hopkins: Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, 550 North Broadway, Suite 731, Baltimore, MD 21205. Attn: Megan O'Shea;
• Dr. Jonathan Glass, Emory University ALS Center: 1440 Clifton Road, NE, Suite 170, Atlanta, GA 30322;
• MD Anderson Cancer Center: 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030;
• The Atlanta Ballet, Development Department, 1695 Marietta Blvd., NW, Atlanta, GA 30318.
Published in Houston Chronicle from Oct. 18 to Oct. 25, 2015
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