Steven Eugene Pettman (whose pennames included Eugene Osowski and Paris Hlad) died at the age of 73 on August 29th at Brunswick Hospice House. He was born on September 1st 1949 in Minneapolis, MN to parents John Pettman and Virginia Osowski. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Myrina Pettman, his brother, David Pettman, and his children: Misha, Mara, Elizabeth, and David.
He grew up in Minneapolis, a lover of football and baseball. In the late 60s, he began his path as a writer and poet at the urging of his mother. He also became a crusader for justice during this time, traveling to San Francisco and working with the SDS. He was expelled from the organization after a few years because of his outspoken contempt for Marxism. Though his politics would change drastically over the years, he never stopped fighting for those who couldn’t fight for themselves and even sacrificed his dream job at the US Chess Federation fighting for better working conditions for the janitors there.
After returning to MN, he attended the University of MN and had a few poems published by the poet John Berryman. He met his wife and the love his life, Myrina, and they moved to El Centro, California where he worked with the nonprofit Compesinos Unidos founded by Cesar Chavez to improve the conditions of migrant workers. He obtained an MBA from the University of the Redlands and worked as a tutor and teacher.
In the late 80s, chess, a long-time passion for Steve, would lead to a job as assistant director of the US Chess Federation and a move to Newburgh, NY. He loved the Hudson Valley and the little lakefront house where he would spend the next 30 years, times he would say were the happiest of his life. For many of those years, he worked as an English teacher for Warwick Valley Highschool. Steve was a natural teacher with a love for sharing big ideas and a knack for bringing Shakespeare to life in the many student plays he supervised. He also taught journalism, starting and heading the school newspaper. Steve was a history buff, and at this time, he completed a series of genealogy books, Dwelling in the Hollow, tracing the roots of the Pettman name and connecting Pettmans (a very rare surname) across England, France, and the Isle of Man). Eventually, however, Steve concluded that a name was just a name and that true connections were born not of blood or history, but of love.
After retiring from teaching, he developed a passion for nature photography. He spent many days photographing flowers, and especially, birds. That passion continued when he fulfilled his wife’s life-long dream of living near the ocean and the pair moved to Southport, NC in 2015. Steve loved early morning ocean walks and photographing the pelicans and sanderlings in the perfect light. Though Steve had always been a writer and poet, it was in NC that he started the Cape Fear Poetry and Prose Society where he and a handful of other poets and writers would share their work. Here, after 1000s of hours and 100s of revisions, he also completed Pilgrim Heart, the book that would become his legacy and fulfill a decades old promise to his mother to write it.
Steve was many things and lived many lives. He was a private person who cared little for socializing and few were fortunate enough to get truly close to him, but he could, when he wanted, become the life of any party with his razor-sharp wit and fierce sense of humor. The people he loved, he loved deeply, and the friends he did have were real. He was a man who loved his wife more than life itself. He was a constant defender of hope and a faithful believer in Jesus. He was a man of towering intellect who spent much of his life contemplating the meaning of suffering, of life and death, and the mysteries of God and the heavens. He never hesitated to ask the big questions. And to the questions he asked, he decided there could be only one answer. Love. He will be greatly missed by those lucky enough to love him.
All My Pages
(by Steven E. Pettman, a common poet)
When all my lines are left to fade,
And my last page is turned,
I think that I
Shall see them home,
For there, they are
By that great heart
That loves the lines
And would in love
Since only love can love a line,
On this material plane
But as the heart, itself must fade
Into God’s great unknown,
Let all my pages turn for Him,
For them, I do not own.
Condolences may be made at www.brunswickfuneralservice.com
There are no services planned at this time.
The family asks that any person wishing to send flowers instead make a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Steve’s favorite charity. https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html
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