In Memoriam - Michael Steffen – 1956-2020
I’m am devastated to report that the year 2020 came to an even more dismal end with the loss of long-time board member Michael Steffen. Board member, Pat Costello, recalls how instrumental Michael was in helping Lane ROA become a viable independent entity during a tumultuous transition more than 10 years ago, and how he spent many hours helping the office staff recover after a vicious ransomware attack on our computer systems. “Michael had the rare ability to be positive and constructive in difficult times, stepping up to provide critical advice and invest the time to ensure a positive outcome when most needed,” said Pat.
Back in 2014 when the Housing Choice Act passed, many of us felt that the classes being sponsored with grant monies were subpar at best. The board of the Oregon Rental Housing Association (ORHA), thought it would be a good idea for us to develop a new non-profit dedicated to seeking grants and paying instructors to produce quality classes. Michael took the reins and started the non-profit now known as ORHA Education, Inc., serving as President until this year. The group received its first grant in 2019 and taught more than 40 classes around the state to educate housing providers and residents on the impacts of Senate Bill 608, and the group is still going strong!
ROA Board Treasurer, Dennis Chappa recalls how Michael stepped up to serve as ORHA President through a difficult financial period and ORHA came out of it stronger and more committed than ever, and looked back fondly on the hours of discussion when they commuted to ORHA meetings together. Jim Straub remembers Michael as a private individual who didn’t relish the limelight, but was a quiet but powerful force with a very astute business sense, and he too remembers fondly the lively conversations he had while commuting to ORHA meetings.
Michael was my personal guide and mentor in my transition to ROA President – a position he would have held if his work life had allowed. I always felt more secure when he was present to provide his quiet, humorous, thoughtful guidance and looked to him for answers when I didn’t know proper protocol. He wasn’t one to speak up unless he had something relevant to contribute and when he did, he was articulate and spot on. With his many years of service, his historical knowledge of both groups was invaluable in moving us all forward, and it always seemed his lot in life to lead us through rocky times.
In recognition of his considerable contributions to Lane ROA and ORHA, we will be awarding Michael a Lifetime Service Award posthumously, as well as providing the lifetime membership to ROA to his beloved wife, Mary Rouen, that comes along with this honor. I’m sad we couldn’t have presented it in person ☹
Rest in Peace, Michael, you are and will continue to be greatly missed.