Former PIA Oregon/Idaho president and Oregon agency owner, Gary Steffen has passed away. He will be missed.
When Gary walked into a room, he owned it, and not just because of his size. Gary was just larger than life in so very many ways. He ran a successful business, was an exceptional musician, and played professionally most of his life, and, if this statement could be true of anybody, it is true of Gary.
Everybody loved him.
Gary also had more courage than most of us. For the last decade of his life, Gary battled some very difficult life and health issues with dignity and an incredible sense of humor.
Kim Legato is the PIA Western Alliance executive vice president. Though she didn’t work with Gary as much as former PIA Western Alliance VP & CEO, Clark Sitzes, she did have quite a bit of interaction with him and passed the association’s condolences on to his friends and relatives.
“We are all sorry to learn of Gary’s passing,” she said. “He was a kind person and lead the chapter with unassuming leadership. He will be missed.”
Clark Sitzes — as noted earlier — knew Gary very well and calls him one of PIA Oregon/Idaho’s best presidents.
“Gary Steffen was one of the brightest and most caring presidents to ever serve the PIA,” he said. “He was a dedicated volunteer. He represented the PIA in all ways and always had the best interests of the association and its members at heart.”
Like most people who knew him, Clark Sitzes noted Gary’s charisma and charm as being a step above the usual. “He was a people person,” he added. “And those he met instantly liked him. Gary will be missed.”
Lisa Tucker is an E&O Executive Commercial Underwriter for Utica. Several years ago, Lisa headed up the PIA Western Alliance’s insurance department. She says Gary’s loss is incalculable.
“Gary changed the course of my life. Without him, I would not be where I am today,” she told Weekly Industry News. “He personally introduced me to Clark [Sitzes]. I never would have been hired by PIA without him. Being at PIA eventually led me to Utica, which has been a huge gift.”
And she agrees with our opening statements about Gary. He owned every room he ever walked into.
“Gary, personally, is someone who lit up a room,” she said. “He had a personality as big as he was. He gave the best hugs and was always so happy to see you. His passing has left me heartbroken. I loved Gary, and I will now, always have, a missing piece in my life.”