Grief and love: the death of a beloved professor


Stephen Stokes, a member of the sociology faculty at BYU-Idaho, passed away Thursday night after heart surgery.

After waking up from his quadruple bypass surgery, Stokes faced unknown complications and passed away.

Quadruple bypass surgery involves the transferring of blood vessels from one part of the body to the heart in order to relieve a blocked artery, according to WebMD.

Nathan Meeker, the sociology department chair, said that despite the difficulty of the procedure, it is not common when this kind of thing happens, and the sociology department was not expecting this loss.

“More often than not, people wake up from the surgery without any complications, but for some reason or another, he didn’t make it,” Meeker said.

Steven Hay, a member of the sociology faculty, said he has worked closely with Stokes for several years and that Stokes worked at BYU-I for 23 years.

“He cared deeply about people,” Hay said. “He was genuine, and there was no guile about him.”

Meeker said Hay will be helping with Stokes’ classes as the department anticipated his return next semester so he could recover from surgery.

Jake Hanson, a junior studying psychology, said Stokes made sure everyone felt loved.

“He was one of those professors that you could tell genuinely cared about everyone,” Hanson said. “He was just a really good guy, a really good professor, and you could tell that he cared a lot of students and about his peers.”

Hanson said students from the sociology department nicknamed Stokes “Papa Stokes” as a term of endearment.

“Ten years from now when somebody asks, ‘Do you ever have that one professor from college that was very influential in your life?’ I can say yes,” Hanson said. “Papa Stokes was that guy. He was probably my favorite professor.”

In an address to Stokes’ Juvenile Delinquency class, Hay said students and faculty need to grieve and to love in response to Stokes’ death.

“First and foremost, we’re all humans,” Hay said. “It’s OK to grieve, and it’s OK to be human.”

Meeker said he does not have a plan for the four classes Stokes had scheduled for next semester, and it is difficult for him to think about at the present moment.

For students who knew Stokes, the sociology department has cards available where students can write encouraging message to the Stokes family.

Meeker said with Stokes’ son two months away from returning home from a mission, there are no funeral plans that he knows of, but there might be a date set by the end of next week.

“They’re going to have to have the funeral in the I-Center to fit everyone that knows and loves him,” Meeker said.



'Grief and love: the death of a beloved professor' have 24 comments

  1. July 2, 2016 @ 2:17 pm Kelly Clerveau

    Stokes took a special interest in me and my future. He was the definition of how to show the pure love of Christ. He looked, treated, and valued everyone the same. When I told him my future plans to be a lawyer. He didn’t ask what he could do to help, he told me what he was going to do too help me. While obtaining the Savior perfect love is impossible, Stokes had a fighting chance. Nothing but love from me and my family from him.

    Reply

    • July 2, 2016 @ 3:55 pm Two Eagles

      He was one of my favorite teachers. He cared about my culture, my business, and took a special interest in me for years. I had the privlage to lecture in his Race/Ethnic Relations class for years. I will honor and miss you… Two Eagles

      Reply

  2. July 2, 2016 @ 4:49 pm Jeffrey Carver

    Brother Stokes was the most kind, loving, professor I have ever had. He was more than a professor he was a friend to me, to my brother and to my family. My condolences to the Stokes family.

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  3. July 2, 2016 @ 5:30 pm Ramona Linville

    I am blessed to have called Steve Stokes a good friend. My heart is breaking for his family. He exemplified the love of Christ. Some people can never be replaced. Steve is one of those people.

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  4. July 2, 2016 @ 6:51 pm Ellen Stokes

    I am so sad to hear about this. Bro. Stokes always took an interest in the individual. I remember when I told him that I was going to move to Des Moines, IA, he went right over to his desk, took out a huge map, and proceeded to tell me all about Des Moines because he had lived there. Did he have to do that? Did he have other things to do? Of course. But he always made you feel important and loved. Even after I graduated he took the time to email and was always encouraging. He was a true example of Christ. He was a true example to me. There aren’t very many people who are as humble, yet as influential as he was. What a great friend to everyone. My thoughts go out to his family, and to his sweet wife.

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  5. July 2, 2016 @ 7:43 pm BRUCE BRIGGS

    STEVE AND HIS FAMILY WERE A GREAT HELP TO MY FAMILY DURING A VERY DIFFICULT TIME IN ONE OF MY CHILDREN’S LIKE. I WILL ALWAYS BE EVER THANKFUL FOR THIS GREAT CHILD OF GOD.

    Reply

  6. July 2, 2016 @ 7:44 pm BRUCE BRIGGS

    STEVE AND HIS FAMILY WERE A GREAT HELP TO MY FAMILY DURING A VERY DIFFICULT TIME IN ONE OF MY CHILDREN’S LIFE. I WILL ALWAYS BE EVER THANKFUL FOR THIS GREAT CHILD OF GOD.

    Reply

  7. July 2, 2016 @ 8:13 pm Tom Macy

    I took my first college class from Brother Stokes. It was half my life ago as a senior in high school, yet there are a few lessons that remain with me. The first lesson Brother Stokes taught me was not academic. There was a young native American man that was escorted to class the first day by two police officers. The young man immediately went to the back of the room and avoided contact with anyone else as the officers spoke briefly with brother Stokes. Shortly after class began and Brother Stokes had everyone go around and introduce themselves and share something about themselves. I don’t remember anyone but this young man as when it was his turn to share he was reluctant and reserved. Brother Stokes expertly coaxed him into sharing about his heritage, and it eventually turned into a conversation between themselves on how much they had in common. I remember specifically that Brother Stokes assured this young man that he was in the perfect class for him and that he was going to succeed. The rest of the class, myself included were impressed with the young man and any stigma that his escorts left was forgotten. As an adult now I remember the experience for what it was, a man living the gospel and principles he taught and professed throughout the class. Years later, I would occasionally run into Brother Stokes, he would recognize me, greet me with a smile and stop and catch up for a few minutes. I write this with tears in my eyes as I will miss him. The university, the community, his family, and the world lost a great man.

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  8. July 2, 2016 @ 9:15 pm Courtney

    Because of the Social Problems class I took with him, I decided to go into Social Work. He inspired me, that there was ways to improve the world. His passion for teaching, and for others in general was amazing. I hope his family realizes what an impact he had on my life, those I have worked with over the past several years, and all the other students lives he had an impact on.

    Reply

  9. July 2, 2016 @ 10:40 pm Amanda Flood

    He sat so many time with me to guide me as I worked on and finished my senior paper. His calm, sweet nature is etched in my memory. I love this man and own his diligence to my success at BYU-I. Thank you Bro. Stokes. Thank you Stokes family. All my love and respect.

    Reply

  10. July 2, 2016 @ 10:48 pm Erica Asbell

    What an amazing impact this one man has had on those around him! I remember when I came to Brother Stokes as a freshman. I was trying to pin down my major. He asked me what I wanted to accomplish in life. I told him my vision, and we counseled together to find avenues and options I could take to get there. What a difference that short meeting has had on my life!! Thank you Brother Stokes for loving, leading, and guiding those around you with your welcoming smile and wise words. You will truly be missed; until we meet again.

    Reply

  11. July 2, 2016 @ 10:53 pm Matthew

    Steve will be missed by all of us, students and faculty alike. He always had a warm smile and a genuine concern for each person he interacted with. God bless you Steve.

    Reply

  12. July 3, 2016 @ 8:04 am Travis Cronin

    In the years 2001 and 2002 I spent so much time in the sociology/social work department it could reasonably be argued that some of my best friends were my professors. Dr. Stokes was instrumental in my development as a scholar, human being, and decsiple. I miss him today as I reflect on the hours he spent with me during those years. He influences my world and by removal he influences my family. I trust that he is with his loved ones now. I am confident he is still helping someone as I write this post. I love you Dr. Stokes! Thank you for being so good to me!

    Reply

    • July 3, 2016 @ 4:21 pm Spencer Webb

      You and I both Travis, it is a sad day for all of us left behind.

      Reply

  13. July 3, 2016 @ 9:28 am Marty Gage

    As so many others have stated, Bro. Stokes had a great impact on my life and everyone around him. I had the pleasure to spend time in his home when he lived in my home ward, go with him on one of his many Chicago Urban America trips, and take many classes from him. He had a love and vigor for life that was truly inspirational. He was kind, intelligent, and humble. One of my favorite memories of him is when he would seem to get lost in his own thoughts for a few minutes and then just start laughing and laughing. He always encouraged me and inspired me to want to do more for others. His legacy is what he lived, to love one another.

    Reply

  14. July 3, 2016 @ 9:38 am Marty Gage

    As so many others have stated, Bro. Stokes had a great impact on my life and everyone around him. I had the pleasure to spend time in his home when he lived in my home ward, go with him on one of his many Chicago Urban America trips, and take many classes from him. He had a love and vigor for life that was truly inspirational. He was kind, intelligent, and humble. One of my favorite memories of him ib class is when he would seem to get lost in his own thoughts for a few minutes and then just start laughing and laughing. He would never tell us what he was laughing about which only added to those humorous moments. He always encouraged me and inspired me to want to do more for others. His legacy is what he lived, to love one another.

    Reply

  15. July 3, 2016 @ 9:44 am Cheryl Tanner

    He was loved by all and will certainly be missed! What a caring and loving individual! All of the comments above show that too… A example to us all!!!

    Reply

  16. July 3, 2016 @ 2:26 pm Terry Whittier

    Bro. Stokes parents were our neighbors when living in Salmon, ID. I remember a visit from his parents to our home, during the visit his mother challenged us to have regular family prayer. Steve was just like his father”Papa Stokes.”

    Reply

  17. July 3, 2016 @ 4:01 pm Kimberly Briggs Thompson

    Steve Stokes was the best professor I had in my College Days. He and his family helped me so much as a professor and a friend. His family became my family. I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for the gift of Love and Friendship of the Stokes family. My heart goes out to his family and all his friends. he will be missed and has left a Legacy for us all to remember and strive to be like him as he was true disciple of Christ and loved and cared for everyone. ‘Til we meet again Steve. Praying for the Stokes family as that they may be comforted and be at peace.

    Reply

  18. July 3, 2016 @ 4:20 pm Spencer Webb

    Steve Stokes will be missed but his testimony will live on and on. I loved this man and his family and will miss him greatly. God be with you until we meet again.

    Reply

  19. July 3, 2016 @ 7:04 pm Niko Kent

    I served with his son and I have never heard a son speak so well of a father. He has left a great legacy.
    AMM for life!

    Reply

  20. July 4, 2016 @ 1:05 pm Barb Johnson

    Bro Stokes took great interest in the Native American culture and did what he could to help us. I was privileged to have taken all of his classes and will never forget those great talks we had. Love you Bro Stokes. I pray for comfort and peace to be with your family.

    Reply

  21. July 5, 2016 @ 10:57 am Sam Brad Rachal

    Brother Stokes changed my life the life of my wife, and the lives of my children. Brother Stokes taught so much academically, yet that was nothing compared to what he taught with his Christ like example. I ended up minoring in “Stokes” took all of his classes plus a 2 credit directed study from him. He taught me how to be a parent, “Never punish your child to make someone else happy. Correct them when it will benefit them.” “Its okay to apologize to your children.” “If you want your child to make better choices teach them faith.” Just a few things he taught and lived by. Brother Stokes, I wouldn’t be the person, father or husband that I am today if it wasn’t for your love, compassion, wisdom and above all your example. Your legacy will live on in the lives you touched, and all the lives touched by your influence. I love you Brother Stokes, Thank you for everything! Something tells me that you are not going to a thing like physical death stop you from blessing the lives of countless others! Thank you for everything!

    Reply

  22. July 5, 2016 @ 11:46 am Teralyn Young

    Wait! I thought I was his best friend! :) He made you feel so important and loved. It’s truly unfair that he isn’t here to teach us all how to be. He was my last class and test of my last class of my degree at BYU-Idaho and he couldn’t have been more proud of me than if he were my own father. How blessed I am to know him and to learn from him.

    Reply


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