Family and friends are remembering Roger Steiner, and sharing this with his community:
Born February 7, 1969, Pocatello, Idaho
Died March 16, 2022, Seattle, age 53
Parents: Gene and Sharon Steiner of Ketchum, Idaho
Husband: Joel Williams of Seattle
Cause of death: Unexpected sudden death in epilepsy
Roger and Joel were together 21 years. The officialdom of their relationship followed the path of same-sex marriage in this state/country. They became Washington State domestic partners in 2007, and when the referendum passed for marriage in this state, the law stipulated that their partnership would roll over into marriage in 2014, which it did. Of course, the US Supreme Court also added their imprimatur somewhere in there as well.
Roger attended schools in Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho, and then switched to The Community School in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he graduated in 1987. He attended Whitman College, graduating in 1991 with a major in history.
Roger’s hometown Ketchum is a unique place, beloved to so many. Roger went to Ernest Hemingway Elementary School. Roger’s brother Eric’s grave is a very few steps away from the Hemingway grave. Growing up in Ketchum is the kind of experience parents dream of giving their children – a closeness to nature that fostered a great love of the outdoors. Roger could hike around the mountains just above the house he grew up in and name the flora and fauna, but he was no match in that sport to his mother Sharon. Ketchum is a tight-knit small town where he knew other people well and where other people knew him, and where bonds of friendship cross generations. Anyone who walked down a Ketchum sidewalk with Roger, even long after he had moved away, would know that there were slim chances of getting more than half a block without running into a longtime friend or acquaintance and stopping for a chat.
Gene owned Chateau Drug in Ketchum, and was the pharmacist there. Roger got a long-lasting “family internship” in running a business, growing up partially in the store. The lessons, the practices he learned there infused his whole life. You have never known such a beloved drugstore, and it modeled the practice of Roger’s future real-estate business – authentic kindness and consideration for other people, meticulous note-keeping, the immediate comfort and safekeeping for the needs of others that he conveyed.
Roger grew up on skis in the winter, wandering around trails and rivers in the summer. His father is a gifted fly fisherman, and Roger learned from the best. He loved to join his father on the streams and lakes and loved to share fishing with others.
In his time spent indoors, Roger grew up loving and playing music and was a good violinist, playing on the instrument his grandfather brought with him when he emigrated from Switzerland. He wrote songs and brightened many gatherings with his playing and singing.
Like his school’s namesake, Hemingway, Roger also loved books and was a lifelong writer, keeping journals, writing restaurant reviews for a Seattle local paper, taking writing classes, and always thinking of ways to share his experiences through literary expression. His writing was sharp, compassionate, and funny, and it left an impression.
After college, he spent time in Ketchum teaching drama at the Community School. He moved to Boise after a short while, worked in restaurants, and, most important of all, continued to grow up with the loving all-but-blood family he found there, friends who are dear and close to this day.
Roger moved to Seattle in 2000. He and Joel met before he even moved here, and were friendly acquaintances until love blossomed in 2001. They lived through experiences like 9/11 and the pandemic together, but also supported one another strongly through career ups and downs and changes, through difficulties with Roger’s epilepsy, and also many long years of being seizure-free. The idea that this condition could lead to this outcome was not a concept for them.
In 2004, they moved to their home in West Seattle, and right around that time, Roger transitioned into the life of a real estate agent and built his business almost entirely from word-of-mouth. His friends referred clients and many of his clients became friends. Their lives together became a kind of Ketchum-on-Puget Sound.
Roger was always physically active, appreciating Seattle on a bike, often walking in Lincoln Park, always up for a group exercise class where he inevitably found friendship and fellowship. Two weeks before his death, Roger skied the entire vertical drop of Bald Mountain at Sun Valley a few times, drew new friends into the loving atmosphere of his childhood home and hometown, and returned to Seattle to help his clients get into and out of the real-estate market with grace and expertise. He will be forever in our hearts, but his physical absence is a void that is very difficult to face.
Celebrations of life will occur in Seattle and Ketchum this summer, dates to be determined.
Roger cared about many people and places. If you are looking for a place to make a memorial donation, consider the Idaho Conservation League, the Seattle YMCA Social Impact Center, and the OutRight Action International LGBTIQ Fund.
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