The Reverend Stephen Sylvester Walters went to be with His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on March 7, 2020. He was 61 years young.
Steve was born on August 26, 1958 to Gale and Roberta (Bobbie) Walters in Powell, Wyoming. He was their first of three children, and Steve’s love for Jesus, enjoyment of the outdoors, and his hospitable personality developed while in their loving home. The family moved several times, but the bulk of his childhood was spent in Billings, MT, until the beginning of his senior year of high school when the family moved to Corvallis, OR.
A natural leader, Steve, was a friend to all. This was demonstrated in his college years when he attended St. Paul Bible College (now Crown). During those years, Steve was involved in various missions’ trips, including going to Peru, South America. He distinctly remembers riding a boat down the Amazon River, seeing the lights of the city in the distance, and feeling burdened for how many people do not know The Lord. This was when he knew God was calling him to be a pastor that would support missionaries and seek to develop that same heart for people within the churches he served. His heart for people and wanting them to know the love of God personally has been his driving passion ever since then.
It was also in college that he met his beloved wife of 39 1/2 years, Terry Verlaine Nemec. He was the basketball player, and she was the cheerleader. The minute her family met him, they knew he was the man for her. They were married in July of 1980 in Buffalo, MN. Upon graduating, Steve went to work at World Wide Pictures, a part of the Billy Graham Association, while Terry finished her teaching degree.
Steve’s passion to reach people with the life-changing love of Jesus was best seen in his pastoral calling and lifetime of service. He served initially as a youth pastor in Alliance churches in Fremont, NE and Monticello, MN. Steve and Terry saw their family blessed as they welcomed their three children, Bethany, Brittany and Tony. In 1996, God called them back to Nebraska where he served on staff at Christ Community Church in Omaha. Steve’s growth as a leader, mentor and team builder was highlighted as he was asked to launch CCC’s first multi-site campus in Bellevue, NE. After 17 years at CCC, they accepted the call to Hillside Community Church in Vermillion, SD where he has joyfully served as Lead Pastor until his life-altering battle with cancer.
Steve was full of love and full of life. If you had the privilege of knowing Steve personally, this is who you saw: a man of integrity, genuine care, deep love and commitment to his family and his God whom he walked with and served. Steve loved people! He loved to be with people and to celebrate living as God intended. For Steve, that included teaching, leading, encouraging, laughing, hunting, fishing, and bicycling (he rode 100 miles in August of 2019 and celebrated his birthday by riding 61 miles). He loved his wife, his kids and being “Papa” to his 6 grandkids. Oh, how he loved being with them all!
Always athletic and disciplined in how he took care of himself, Steve’s battle with renal cell carcinoma came as a surprise to those of us closest to him, but it was not a surprise to his most gracious and loving Heavenly Father. Step by step throughout this journey, Steve, Terry and the family have seen God’s love poured out by so many in their words and deeds as this disease raged war on Steve’s physical body. But He is with Jesus now and is more alive than ever before! Steve’s deepest desire would be that all would find that same hope in the God he passionately loved and faithfully served.
Steve’s legacy of faith lives on with his wife, Terry of Vermillion, daughter, Bethany & Jared Doyle of Omaha, NE (Amelia, Josiah and Ainsley), daughter, Brittany & Andrew Peterson of St. Louis Park, MN (Avery, Judah and Oakley), son, Tony Walters of Vermillion, parents, Gale & Bobbie Walters of Centralia, WA, brother, Tim & Lonna Walters of Roseburg, OR and sister, Kristina Walters of Nashville, TN. He had numerous nieces and nephews.
Steve’s life of hope will be celebrated on Saturday, March 14th at Hillside Community Church at 10:00 am. Visitation will be held on Friday, March 13th from 5:00-6:30 pm followed by a time of prayer and sharing until 8:00, also at Hillside.
Memorials may be sent to Hillside Community Church, 1800 Constance Drive, Vermillion, SD 57069.
Always eager to teach and help those around him, Steve’s body will be donated to medical
science. A private internment service will be held at Svea Hill Cemetery in Minnesota (aka Steve’s “Happy Hunting Grounds”) at a future date.
Kober Funeral Home of Vermillion has been entrusted with the services. Condolences may be posted online to www.koberfuneralhome.com.