Stephen DeBow
Stephen DeBow

Obituary of Stephen George DeBow

Stephen George DeBow passed away in his home on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 in Olympia, Washington. Stephen was born in Pomeroy, Washington on November 27, 1949 to Jack and Lorna DeBow. He was raised on a wheat ranch, which had been in the family for four generations (located on “DeBow” Road) in Garfield County. Stephen enjoyed recounting stories about his youth in Pomeroy, which often included his love of hunting, playing music in a band, and driving his 1966 Mustang on backcountry roads. He graduated from Pomeroy High School in 1968, and was remembered by his friends for his caring and playful personality. Drafted into the military in 1971, Steve served for two years as a military policeman in Panama. After his return to Eastern Washington, he attended Washington State University where he received a bachelo’rs degree in Agricultural Economics in 1977. Stephen met Deborah Gribble while at WSU and the two were married in 1979 and soon had two daughters. After taking over the family farm, Steve and Deborah decided that pursuing advanced degrees would be in the best interest of their new family and moved to Cheney where Stephen received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Eastern Washington University. In 1990, Steve began his career in government as a program manager with the State of Washington, Emergency Management Division in Olympia. Steve’s accomplishments reflect great credit upon him. Following 12 years of service, Steve received both the State of Washington Commendation Medal for Outstanding Leadership and the Commander’s Award for Public Service. Stephen was resolute in his dedication to protect and serve throughout his career and especially enjoyed his work and affiliations with the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. Steve was a positive anchor and presence in many lives. He was an honest, caring, direct but often soft-spoken, good-natured family man. He was proud of his daughters and pleased to welcome two sons-in-law into the family, as well as a granddaughter in 2009. Steve also had a dry wit and a renowned gift for the one-liner. Stephen’s personal interests included a passion for sailing, shooting an occasional game of pool, and discussing and defending his views about World and American history. He owned three sailboats over the years, Amos, Eagle Wing and the YOHO. A skilled woodworker, Amos was constructed by hand in his farmhouse basement, inspiring his future hobby of sailing on the Puget Sound. Steve liked to say that he “retired every weekend” when he was on the boat with his good sailing buddy, Ferruccio. Steve is survived by his wife, Deborah; daughters, Emily DeBow-Garcia (son-in-law, Jerry Garcia), Kendra Mullins (son-in-law, Peter Mullins); granddaughter, Abigail Mullins; sisters, Eugenia DeBow, Renee Hicks; niece, Lisa Nikolich; nephew, James Sanford; and sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Jim McColley. Stephen was a dearly loved husband, father, grandfather and friend who will be terribly missed. Memorial donations may be made to the Tacoma Youth Maritime Youth Center at or to a disaster-relief organization of choice. A celebration of Steve’s life will take place on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced soon. Please leave memories of Steve or condolences for his family in the Guestbook below.
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