Steven Bennett Wing
October 3, 1952 - November 9, 2016
Steven Bennett Wing, 64, died from cancer on November 9, 2016 surrounded by his family in his home in rural Chatham County. He was born in New Orleans, LA where he grew up with his parents, Lucie Lee Wing and Cliff Wing, both deceased, and his brother, Scott Wing, currently of Arlington, VA. The family moved to Durham when Steve was 12 and North Carolina became his permanent home.
Steve met his wife, Betsy, in 1975 while they were undergraduates at Vassar College in New York. A year later Steve returned to NC with Betsy where they made Chatham County their home. There they built a house and raised two daughters, Ann and Marion. Ann, her husband Sam Garrett, and twins Loa and Miles live close by; Marion lives in Durham.
Steve was a man of many talents and was admired by and an inspiration to all who knew him in one or more of his roles as a friend, musician, mentor, academic and community activist.
He was an associate professor of epidemiology at UNC's School of Public Health where he had been a member of the faculty since 1985. Steve was recognized locally, nationally and internationally, first for his early work in occupational health and later for his work in environmental justice. In the many tributes made to Steve before his death, repeated references were made to his passionate advocacy for social justice and tenacity in the face of injustice. He was revered by students, colleagues and community members alike for leading by example and demonstrating unwavering respect, integrity and courage.
Steve was also a talented musician. His passion for music began as a young child, both by watching traditional jazz funeral marches in his neighborhood in New Orleans and growing up in a home with a mother who played piano and composed music. For decades he played keyboard with various bands in the triangle area and continued to do so until a few weeks before his death.
The place where Steve was most at peace was at home in the woods with his family. He enjoyed living a life that reflected his love of nature and appreciation for living simply. He spent many hours walking in the woods around the family home, was a conscientious steward of the land, and always looked forward to clear fall days when he would cut and split wood in anticipation of cold winter nights sitting by an open fire. Steve enjoyed preparing and sharing food with others, especially meals cooked in his home-built cooking shack. You could often find him on the weekends grilling fresh food from the farmer's market and enjoying music in the company of friends and family.
Steve Wing was a strong, just and kind man whose humility and dedication touched all those who knew him. An event celebrating Steve's life will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Steve's name to the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, P.O. Box 68, Rocky Mount, NC 27802 or at http://www.ncejn.org/
Published by The News and Observer on Nov. 13, 2016.