Michael A. Stedham


After a long, active, and rich life, Michael A. Stedham passed away peacefully, Jan. 28, 2021, at home with his family. He was born in Chehalis, Wash., in the old St. Helen’s Hospital, Nov. 9, 1935, to Virginia Pinney Stedham and John Isaac Stedham. Mike and his sisters, Virginia and MaryAnn, had a lot of fun and stories to tell of growing up on Kennicott Road on a small farm. He was very involved in FFA.

Mike attended Cascade, R.E. Bennett and W.F. West schools, and remembered sheltering in the boys bathroom in R.E. Bennett during the earthquake of 1949. He graduated in 1953, class of 89, who stayed very close through the years. He attended Washington State University and graduated in 1959, as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a member of Alpha Gamma Rho. He worked for the United States Department of Agriculture for 10 months and then joined the United States Army Veterinary Corp in 1960. In 1961, the United States Army sent him to La Rochelle, France, to the 73rd Medical Detachment, where he worked in Veterinary Food Inspection. He took advantage of the chance to travel and explored Europe including ordering and picking up a Porche from the factory!  He had many adventures, including the running of the bulls in Pamplona and exploring towns and cathedrals with his buddies. In 1964, now Captain Michel Stedham, was sent by the Army to Kansas State University to get his Masters in Public Health Service, Parasitology and Pathology. In 1968, now Dr. Of Veterinary Medicine and Pathology he was promoted to Major and his next assignment was Fitzsimmons General Hospital, Denver, Colo., working at the Medical Research and Nutrition Laboratory.  

Keeping up his frugal ways, he bought a small house and rented rooms to other GI’s to pay the mortgage. He made life long friends with these roomies. Colorado was also were he learned to ski, enjoying it so much that he bought a three bedroom apartment at the bottom of the “Little Nell” ski run in the center of Aspen. In 1970, he was posted to Vietnam with the Ninth Medical Lab in Long Binh where he got to use his education in Parasitology (Guard Dogs). In 1971, the Army sent him to the U.S. Army Biological Defense Research Center, Ft. Detrick, Md., and the next year in 1972, he was assigned to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed Army Base, in Washington D.C., the very center of research in the Army and by 1974, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

By 1979, he had met and married his wife, Anne who was from England. Their children, Elizabeth and Victoria were born in Bethesda Naval Hospital. He retired from the Army and joined a small up and coming firm Pathology Associates as one of the share holders and Chief Pathologist. Due to his work ethic and sterling reputation, he helped to make them very successful and they were eventually bought out by Charles River Laboratories. Small town boy makes good.

In an amazing cross country trip, Anne and Mike moved back to Chehalis in 1995. Mike drove the truck pulling the pop-up camper. Elizabeth was his side kick and Angel the Poodle, Max the Collie, Princess the Shepard mix and OJ the Corgi, as well as two parakeets in a cage, were their cargo. Anne followed close behind in the Geo Prism with Victoria and four cats. They became the center of attention every time they stopped at a campsite and unloaded and walked their menagerie. This was the first and last camping trip Mike every wanted to go on, though he loved telling stories about it.

Once they had built their dream house and Mike had fully retired from reading slides, he joined his brother-in-law, John Kostick in the Chehalis Lions. He also became a Master Gardener. He loved it, was Trainee of the Year 1996, and Master Gardener of the Year in 2013. He took on the project of researching and planting an “Heirloom Garden” of vegetables to match the age of the Borst House they were next to. He became very enthused, reading voraciously, collecting and trialing seeds, giving talks to groups large and small. He and his two buddies, Ed Schroder and Gayland Wilmovsky made a happy and educational place for volunteers to get their hours. Even after he retired from MG’s due to physical limitations, he still wrote articles for their newsletter “Real Dirt” and gave talks to garden clubs. The large vegetable garden at home continued with the help of his wonderful garden helper and handyman Joel Denton.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Virginia Pinney Stedham and John Isaac Stedham; his brother, John (Red) Stedham; sister, Virginia Borgen; brothers-in-law, Don Borgen and John Kostick; and nephews, John Stedham, Steve Stedham, Ross Stedham, and Doug Borgen.

He is survived and will be greatly missed by his wife, Anne Stedham; daughters, Elizabeth Stedham and Victoria Stedham; daughter-in-law, Sarah Haenke; sister, MaryAnn Kostick; nephews and nieces, Karen Parks, Sandy Grady, Alan Borgen, Cindy Kinney, and Ben Kostick; cousins, Sam and Tom Woods, Ray and Dale Pinney, and Susan Schmoll; plus numerous great-nieces and great-nephews; and other family members. Also Bethany, Ben, Jasmine and Jerry Butcher; as well as Abby and Murphy, who loved Mike very much and miss his lap.

On Saturday, Jan. 20, 2021, between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., a viewing will be held at Sticklin Funeral Home. A potluck gathering (his favorite kind) to share memories of Mike and all the jokes we can remember, will be held in the COVID-19 safe times ahead, in the garden he loved.