Stephen S. Gauvain
1946 - 1996
One of the greatest
inspirations I ever got from Stephen was a simple but a demanding
goal. It was one word he had taped to his computer monitor for
many years and it seemed so fitting in the middle of a crazy,
hectic, endlessly demanding newsroom. It simply said 'TRANSCEND.'
-- Jay Garcia, co-worker
was the word Stephen was inspired to live by. It speaks to us
today in a hauntingly beautiful tribute to the life he created
with all its accomplishments, trials, and errors. He left us a
legacy of love, honor, humor, wisdom, compassion, integrity, and
truth, transcending into an even greater expression of himself
through his death. He loved and lived life to its fullest measure,
taking special care of what he loved most, his family. He was
among us long enough to build a lifelong partnership with his
beloved wife, Jan, and to share with her the engendering of three
affectionate, strong, creative and productive children, Stephen,
Taggart and Dustin. He is a cherished father, husband, son and
Stephen's career as a news journalist spanned 28
years, beginning with a four-year stint with the U.S. Navy, which
he affectionately called, "Uncle Sam's Canoe Club."
Earning his credentials at Boston University, a Boston radio station,
and TV markets in Maryland, Virginia, and Florida, he made his
way to the Lone Star State and put down roots much to the chagrin
of our New England friends and family. The natural diversity of
the land and the mix of people from the world over claimed his
heart. The Hill Country rivers claimed his soul as would his work.
Stephen was fond of saying, "I've got lots of space between
my ears!" He was so alive in the exploration of this vast,
unlimited universe, and he was humbled by the Intelligence who
created it. Stephen's unwearying fascination, curiosity, and love
marked his work as a reporter at Houston's ABC affiliate, KTRK
Channel 13, where he spent the last 14 years of his life covering
NASA and science. One of his favorite quotes was by Bill Moyers:
"A journalist is a professional beachcomber on the shores
of other people's wisdom." He said his work was like a perpetual
college education. He was never interested in an anchor's desk
job. He loved walking his "beat," his "field of
dreams" which he encountered daily through the people and
events he was covering.
Stephen's sensitivity to an unfolding story became
legendary. The Challenger story was close to his heart. In the
loss of his friends and the support of the families following
the tragedy, one discovered that for Stephen, people always came
before "getting the story." He was a trusted servant,
always respecting the feelings and emotions of those being interviewed.
He remained close to many of the widows and children of our lost
comrades in space. NASA honored him, flying the U.S. flag half-staff
over Johnson Space Center and sending his pictures into space
aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, June 20, 1996, the day and
hour of his funeral. George Abbey wrote: "A respected friend
and fellow pioneer, Stephen's memory remains with us in the journey
of space exploration for the benefit of all humankind."
A teacher at heart, Stephen "always found
time to help a student learn his craft," giving them encouragement
and confidence to share their uniqueness through their own stories.
He was a gentle and steadying hand for these young interns in
the often tumultuous pressure and chaos of TV news.
Extending himself to all children, he visited schools,
befriended kids who had lost their way, participated in career
nights, read stories, told jokes, and played games. He gave serious
time to their lives. He loved the free spirit of children, they
were drawn to him like a pied piper, they laughed endlessly at
his silly antics, funny stories and playful nature.
Stephen's life was filled with many awards for
his work as a journalist as well as his charity and humanitarian
efforts on behalf of the American Diabetes Association and the
Space Rotary Club. He was honored in life as well as in the year
following his death by many organizations and people whose lives
he touched as a "social pioneer and constant friend."
The community in which he lived and worked has responded in kind
to our family in its loss with many blessings.
So long spaceman, you can now paddle a new
river, the Milky Way. We love you always and in all ways.
-- Jan, Steve, Tagg, and Dustin