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.