Stephen Jacob "Steve" Kaptur
May 23, 1952 - September 28, 2020
Son and Brother:
Valiant, Noble, Jolly,
Mechanic and Inventor,
Steve was born May 23, 1952 to Anastasia Delores (Rogowski) Kaptur and Stephen Jacob ("Kappy") Kaptur, Sr. at St. Vincent's Hospital in mid afternoon. The family lived in Adams Township in Reynolds Corners in one of the first houses built on their street, Dority Road. A bright, blue-eyed happy child, who loved the outdoors, baseball, lawnmowers and cutting grass, Steve (nicknamed "Chee-chee" by his Uncle Pete) was a keen student and altar boy. He graduated with top grades from Little Flower Parish Roman Catholic Elementary School in 1965. He then attended St. John's Jesuit High School for one year and transferred to Rogers High School the following year, pursuing his driving interest in automotive mechanics and high performance engines. He graduated in 1969.
Self made, and often self taught, he always worked very hard, independently, and took joy in it. He saved his earnings to invest in his high performance automotive engines and drag racing pursuits. He began working early in his life during the 1950's at his parents' family market in Rossford, Ohio, called "Supreme Market." He pumped gas at Clarks on Byrne Road and Central Avenue, and worked in the Ottawa Hills maintenance garage and garbage detail one summer while pursuing his love of mechanics, especially high performance engines and competition hot rods. He owned several motorcycles including a Doodle Bug, Kawasaki, Triumph, and Honda. He excelled in building his own dragsters, hand fashioning engine components in his own shop for multiple dragsters, engines, transmissions, gears, and electronics. His shop kept expanding the family garage until it was enlarged to a four car garage, four times as large as the family home. "Steve's garage' became a neighborhood gathering place for auto buffs. He designed, built, and drove his own dragsters in Milan, Michigan and Norwalk, Ohio raceways though he liked building dragsters more than racing them. Very artistic, he designed and painted his cars and motorcycles with vivid colors and flourishes, spending hours blending paints, with a preference for subtle pearlescent tones. He achieved winning track records in the class in which he competed - B Altered. Singlehandedly, he built a 36 foot long enclosed trailer with winch to haul his race cars. At that time, he racked up a 142.7 miles per hour, winning track records in the quarter mile at Milan, Michigan and Norwalk, Ohio during the decade of the 1980's. This achievement for an independent driver got him billing on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in the February 1985 Issue. An ASE certified mechanic, he consistently placed in the top 2% on national aptitude tests across all automotive systems.
From age 18-21, Steve was employed as a heavy duty mechanic by the State of Ohio Department of Transportation, servicing heavy trucks and road equipment, often working alone day or night in dangerous conditions in the blazing sun or frigid ice and driving snow conditions. He could be found under the equipment in subzero temperatures on major expressways or wherever State vehicles of any kind —graders trucks, snow plows— were broken down. Then, from 1971-1987, he was employed by the City of Toledo as a master mechanic. He serviced the most complex police and fire engine equipment, ambulances, Truxmore leaf pick up trucks, refuse vehicles. While working on fire engines, he invented a hydraulic safety brake to prevent the large vehicles from sliding backwards, and installed footpads on high ladder trucks so firemen would not lose footing when climbing during icy weather. These features are now standard on vehicles. Then in 1978, and while also serving as a steward in his shop for AFSCME Local 7, he sustained a major industrial accident and fall off the high dome of a refuse truck 26 feet to the hard concrete below. There had been no scaffolding to prevent falls as this occurred prior to Occupational and Safety and Health Standards being applied in Ohio to public sector employees as had occurred already in the private sector. Ohio did not adopt OSHA standards for public workers until 1997. Despite serious injury to his back, he continued working until 1987 when he officially retired due to back and neck injuries sustained from the fall. Subsequently he began to work as a private inventor and singlehandedly pursued his interest in mechanical inventions. He became a U.S. patent holder on October 24, 1989, granted U.S. Utility Patent #4,875,440 for his design of an infinitely variable mechanical valving system for an internal combustion engine. In addition, he continued to work on his own and was able to operate his own small tool shop, fashioning smaller parts and making and repairing all things mechanical spreciallizing in high performance service as he was able.
Steve's sister Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, reflecting on her brother's life says:
"Steve is my lifetime companion and best friend, my North Star. He is a one-of-a-kind human being with a direct connect to the Creator. The motto of the Polish Cavalry aptly fits him: "Never Surrender." He was physically very strong with a gentle, kind demeanor.
If there is a Saint Stephen II, he surely is it. God called him home to eternal life in the early evening hours of September 28, on Yom Kippur, a holy day in the Jewish faith, where the most righteous are brought close to God to atone for human failings. God assigned Steve this duty as I know he has returned to the highest place in heaven. Steve lived every day of his life with love and Supernatural Determination. His positive, persevering, jolly nature drove him to pick up his cross many times due to ill health that beset him over decades. He never complained once. What a man! Words that describe him: Valiant, saintly, noble, perservering with a brilliant smile that lit up the room. He possessed humor, creativity, and mechanical genius of the highest order. These are qualities not often paired in one person. He has lived unrelentingly curious and innovative. Steve can fix anything — a 60 year old hinge on a stove, or a watch, or keep a lawnmower running for 55 years. He is just amazing. One hot summer day, I recall hearing a loud noise and looking through the front window to see a huge, flatbed industrial truck turning the corner, heading straight to our home. It was hauling a Bridgeport Mill and Lathe that Steve had bought to have installed in our garage. The giant truck that transferred the heavy equipment into his garage had to let air out of its tires to fit under the garage overhang. With Steve, life has always been unpredictable and exciting. Neighbors remember the reverberating, loud sounds of his dragsters firing up every Saturday morning as he perfected his competitive race cars. I totally admire him and his rare genius and character! My brother is a mechanical wizard, and an Olympic champion. I'll never have to travel to the Olympics. I have witnessed my noble brother's superior courage and achievement every day."
Beloved by his family, neighbors, and friends, Steve courageously has endured decades of pain and discomfort with superhuman courage and amiable demeanor. He never uttered an unkind word or swore. His ready sense of humor, grand smile, and gentle spirit drew not only people easily to him but nature's creatures too— hummingbirds, dogs, monarch butterflies. He embodied a stillness and peace in his being that are rare.
He is a lifelong member of Little Flower Parish where he was baptized in 1952 and played on the Boy's baseball team as #9; a member of Local 7 AFSCME Retirees;
member of Automotive Service Excellence; Vice Chair/Treasurer of The Anastasia Fund, a family charity; and a supporter of the Lakota Native American Tribe.
Steve is survived by his sister, U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and was preceded in death by his loving father, Stephen Jacob and mother, Anastasia Delores; aunts, uncles, cousins: Stanley/Esther Rogowski; Anthony, Stella, and John Rogowski; Sister Mary (Kaptur) Cleopha; Martin and Peter Kaptur; Joe, Teresa, and Joey Kaptur; John, Rita, and Steve Kaptur; and treasured friends, George Tucker (surviving spouse Deb); Don Crane; Al Baldwin; Marian and Wladyslawa Wojciechowski; Vergie Jezak and Helen Brewis.
Surviving relatives: Cousin Christine Bibish; John/Cheryl Bibish; Katie/Phil Moline; John/Mafi Bibish; Jim and Diane O'Neill, Stacy, Matt, Sean, Alyssa, and family; Linda/Bob Nitray and family; Debbie/Jeff Kish and family; Chris, Renee, Michael, Cassie, Nicole/Cas/Roslin Zacharyasz and Jim Kaptur and families; Regina, Jeff, Jacob and Lucas Whelan; Roseann Rogowski, Kari/John Adler, Abby Rose, Andrew.
Treasured friends, neighbors, and associates: Larry Rowe; Jim and Ann Lewis; Bob Suminski; Peter, Betty and Andrew, Betsy and Suzy, Kristina/Peter Ujvagi and Baba Bertalan families; Dr. Celia Regimbal; Patti Skaff; Patzi Donatelli; Fr. Tom Helfrich and Dr. Janet Helfrich; John Landa; Maryann Wojciechowski; Jama Greene, Alex, Elliott; Lorraine Kwiatkowski; Ursuline and Franciscan Sisters: Ann Francis Klimkowski, Kathleen Padden, Jeremias Stinson, Grace Ellen, Rosine Sobczak; Sally, Gary Karen, Kim Gillespie and family; Angelo Seambos and family; Isabel Montez, Ida Cardenas, and Linda Hernandez, Mindy and Jim Rapp; Matt Baumgartner; Therese Naumann; Emney/John Shousher family; Gary Hahn; Rosemary/Rey Boezi; Mayor Carty Finkbeiner; Phil, Scott, Mary at Bayer Hardware; Mike and Theresa at Strachn's Bakery; Mary Nitray and Graciela at Optical Arts; Drs. Bosserman and Burrow, Sarah and staff at Tower Dental. Also, current and former Members of Rep. Kaptur's caring Congressional staff headed by Steve Katich including Lindsay Potts, Sue Rowe, Karen Harris, Steve Fought, Theresa Morris, Ted Mastroianni, Jane Ruvolo, Patti Skaff.
Friends will be received on Saturday, October 3, beginning at 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the Thos. I. Wisniewski Funeral Home, 2426 N. Reynolds Road. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1 p.m. at Little Flower Catholic Church. Entombment to follow at Resurrection Cemetery.
Steve and The Kaptur family wish to express deepest gratitude to the Cleveland Clinic and precious friends Albert and Audrey Ratner and the interdisciplinary team of doctors and nurses that did all that was humanly possible to heal Steve: Drs. Desai, Tsuang, Aboussauan, Mireless, Choudhary, Taliercio, Nicolacakis, Pichurko, Mayock, extraordinary, compassionate Physician Assistant Susan Snyderburn, Nurse Manager Paul Lamiell, critical care nurse Joe Syrowny, and anchor woman Kelly Pulletti, and so many others. In addition, thanks beyond words to University of Toledo physicians who helped Steve for decades to manage complex spinal and neurological work-related injuries, Dr. Basil Akpunonu and Daniel Rapport, and the faithful Genoa pharmacists and assistants Erin and Jim who never failed Steve in any season.
The family requests that any donations be made in Steve's name to:
The Anastasia Fund, P.O. Box 2121, Toledo, Ohio 43604 for two purposes:
(1) to create a workers' register at the Kaptur-Rogowski Labor History archives at the Toledo-Lucas County Library to track and document the life medical histories of City of Toledo workers who sustained serious occupational health and safety injuries while employed by the City of Toledo in the public service at the former Maintenance Garages on Post Street and Albion Street.
(2) for scholarships for young adults seeking to become "new age" automotive mechanics and inventors to study automotive mechanics, high performance engines, and valving systems.
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