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Remembering Fred Stephens

Friday, February 15th, 2008
Posted in Fred Stephens, Reflection by Joel Gross

Fred’s family has established the Frederick Stephens III Memorial Scholarship Fund so that those who wish to contribute to the memory of Fred may do so.‚  Michael Hesamer will be going on trial for Fred Stephen’s murder on March 5, 2009.

At the request of Fred Stephen’s family, I have removed all photos for the time being. Any photos of Fred should be mailed to Marques Johnson at marqueslj@hotmail.com.‚  Below, I have reformatted my original post after I removed the pictures so that it may be easier to understand. My thoughts are with the Stephens family during this time of tragic loss.

Fred Stephens Murder Original post from Tuesday morning February 5th, 2008

Faryar Faramarzi has requested that I post some very sad news to my site today. I have never written about someone that I know who has passed on before and I know I will not be able to do the man justice, but I’ll try.

A friend of mine from when I lived in Sigma Chi fraternity was apparently murdered late Saturday night. Faryar sent me an email and an instant message this morning letting me know and giving me a link to the article.

Frederick Stephens III, 25, was in a hot tub around 1 am when a fight allegedly broke out between Fred and his friend Michael Hesamer, 23 in the recreation center of the apartment complex where they both lived in Lake Oswego. A medical call was placed and the medics had the police come after Fred was found drowned.

Michael Hesamer has an arraignment today at Clackamas County Courthouse. Mr. Hesamer will likely face murder or manslaughter charges.

Fred Stephens was a great guy, never violent and rarely even rough-housed much during the time that I spent with him. If Michael Hesamer was his friend, I think that there was a good chance that the heat of the hot tub, playing around and perhaps alcohol were involved. I will not speculate though until further details come out.

Fred Stephens was a great guy and I am extremely shocked by his death. I have never had a friend die before and I feel numb still. I hadn’t talked to Fred recently, but when we lived in the fraternity I spent a good deal of time getting into all sorts of adventures with him, Faryar, Marques and the other guys.

Fred has left many people behind who cared very much for him. He was one of the most sociable people that I know and was friends with literally hundreds of others in the UW community alone. Fred Stephens graduated from Bellarmine Prep in 2000, received a degree in Chemistry in 2004 from the University of Washington and also attended UW for grad school, recently receiving a degree in Health Services Administration.

I have rarely known anyone who was as kind, funny, adventurous and popular. Fred had a great heart and his death leaves the world a significantly grayer place than it was before.

My heart goes out to Fred’s little brother Ramone at this time, I know he really looked up to Fred and appreciated his influence in his life.

I think the saddest thing is that I can hear Fred’s voice in my head making fun of my post and telling me what to say.

RIP, Fred Stephens, you will be missed.

February 5 Update:

I have been amazed by the amount of people who have been affected by Fred’s death. I posted this blog this morning just expecting my usual readers to see it, but more people have responded to this post than to any other I have ever had. His life touched so many people in so many ways. If I hear when and where his funeral or memorial service are I will post it here, though it seems that Fred’s social grapevine will carry the info even faster.

February 7 Update:

I first posted this blog at Faryar’s suggestion when I first heard of Fred’s death on Tuesday morning. I felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks and just shared what I was thinking. People began to find my post and started to share how they felt as well. Fred Stephens passing has left so many people behind who loved him dearly. This blog posting had so many people coming to look at it that my server nearly crashed; I had 35 times as many visitors in one day as I have ever previously received in a day and a nearly unbelievable 2,700 visitors have come in the last two days. Many people who cared for Fred have left comments as well and I have read them all, it’s heartbreaking. Fred Stephens is sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

Further information on the trial and Fred Stephen’s alleged murderer:

A Clackamas County grand jury is considering the charges against Michael Hesamer in Frederick Stephens III’s death. Michael Hesamer is currently being held in the Clackamas County jail on charges of second manslaughter (though these will likely be changed to murder) and his bail is set at $250,000. More details on Michael Hesamer have emerged recently. Mike Hesamer was 23 years old and had attended Lane Community College and was active in Young Life Ministries. At the time of Fred’s murder, Mike was working for an auto dealership. Mike Hesamer had grown up in the Lake Oswego community (the area he and Fred lived) and had attended Lakeridge High School where he had been a football player. Mike Hesamer had participated in numerous Young Life (a Christian student program) and had gone on a mission to Mexico and various camps in Canada. David Hesamer, Mike’s father, described him as the most kind and gentle person he knew. David Hesamer also said that Mike had been friends with Fred and is “at a loss as to what happened.”

Faryar Faramarzi on Frederick Stephens IIIFebruary 5 1:07 pm:

In the past few hours I have been informed of Fred’s tragic death. We have all lost someone very close to us. Fred Stephens was one of the most genuine, kind-hearted and easy going people I have ever met. Fred would never hurt a fly and he was always up for having a good time. He loved being with his friends and helping them out in any way he possibly could. Thats why this is so shocking to me cause incidents like this should not happen to people like Fred. Anyone who ever had the pleasure to hang out with Fred knows that as soon as this guy walked into a room his smile would light up the room and I can’t remember seeing him sad or unhappy even once in my life. I remember taking Management 320 with Fred Stephens at UW and he would walk into that classroom everyday with a huge smile on his face and that instantly made my day better as well. I also remember when we were groomsmen at Ali’s wedding and we were drinking, partying and telling jokes all night. Fred, I love you man and I really miss you and I know a lot of other people do as well. I can’t believe you’re gone but I know you are in a better place. My heart goes out to everyone who knew Fred, especially his family and his younger brother Ramone.

RIP Brother

Marques Johnson requests photos for memorial:

Marques published the following in a bulletin on MySpace and I put it up here because so many people who knew Fred making comments and sending me photos.

Hello friends,

As I’m sure you all know we’ve lost a great friend in Fred Stephens recently. I’m not going to use this as my forum to express my grief, sadness or frustration regarding his loss, but I do make this request:

I’ve just spoke with his family and they are planning on creating a video/digital tribute in memory of Fred. If you have any digital photos of Fred (appropriate of course) that you think his family, and us his friends, would enjoy please email them to me and I’ll pass them along for his family to incorporate.

My email address is marqueslj@hotmail.com

Thank you on behalf of myself and the Stephens family

Fred Stephens Funeral and Memorial Services

Thursday, February 14, 2008, 2:00pm-8:00pm
Viewing
Southwest Mortuary
9021 Rainier Ave. So.
Seattle, WA 98118

Friday, February 15, 2008, 11:00am
Funeral Services
First A.M.E. Church
1522 14th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

Update February 15: Funeral Service for Frederick Stephens III

I took the day off work today to attend Fred Stephens funeral. It was held at the First African Methodist Evangelical Church on the corner of Madison and 14th Ave. When I arrived there was a long line leading up to the entryway to the church and so I stood in the back with a guy I hadn’t seen in quite a while, Matt Gerken and eventually we made it in and signed the guest book. So many people were already there that they had run out of programs. When I walked in the large sanctuary was already packed full of people who knew and cared for Fred. Since I was by myself I managed to squeeze into a pew near the back, but several dozen more people had to wait for chairs to be brought out. The service began shortly thereafter and was like none I have attended before. The only other times I have been to funerals were for elderly relatives and usually there wasn’t very many people and the ones who were there were very aged. Probably 4-500 people were in attendance to remember Fred and almost everyone (aside from his relatives) were between the ages of 20-30. The service itself was very lively and the pastor made a point that this ceremony was to celebrate Fred’s life and not just to feel bad about his passing. My own dad was a pastor and so I have been to innumerable sermons, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone who was as powerful of a speaker as the Reverend who led this service. Perhaps part of his charisma came from the fact that he had personally known Fred. The service was very uplifting and watching the video/ photo tribute to Fred affected everyone in the room. Fred’s charm, open spirit and giant smile has touched so many people. If he had been able to live out the full life he deserved, Fred could have really changed the world. Many people have that said about them and for most of them it isn’t true, but Fred had the talent, intelligence and charisma to do anything he wished. Losing Fred is tragic, but the Reverend had a good point that those left behind should not just feel sorry for themselves, but should pick up Fred’s dreams and start to make a difference in the world like Fred did. After the funeral service, I talked to dozens of people that I haven’t had contact with in years and was amazed at the reach that Fred Stephens life had.

Please feel free to share your stories, experiences and memories of Fred Stephens below in the comments.

104 thoughts on “Remembering Fred Stephens

  1. The ‘life celebration’ of Fred yesterday was absolutely amazing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well a thousand words and a picture wouldn’t be able to begin to capture the scene at the F.A.M.E. Church yesterday morning. I sat there and smiled while tears ran down my cheeks as the Reverends spoke profound and meaningful words. Remember, He WALKED. God has an amazing Christian Soldier standing before him. Let us continue on with Fred’s dreams so that everyone can know about how awesome an man he is. One day I will be there with God, Fred, and the many other Christian Soldiers that fill heaven. John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” My prayers will always be with the Stephens’ family for all of my WALKING days. With love (and lots of it) KRISTI

  2. Fred, I didn’t get a chance to come to your memorial. I actually just found out about this when I opened my Bellarmine Today. God must have missed your presence something terrible to call you back to Him so early. Who could blame Him? You were always such a sweet soul; full of joy, quick for a laugh and a smile so bright, you could have swallowed the sun. God Bless You. My love and thoughts to your family. Jen

  3. Just before your Dear Sweet Son/Friend died, I found a photo of Fred and my son. It was spring break a few years ago. Fred and some friends were visiting the James Family in the area of Lake Tahoe. I was there to assist my friend Ms. James as she was recovering from Cancer treatment. I got to be the “Scout Mom”. When I found this picture, I thought what a beautiful man and as most of you have recalled his fabulous SMILE. I found out that Fred died here in the complex that I live in…I was so very sad and shocked and believed that I must be holding the greatest photo of him. Reading through your Love Letters, I have come to realize that perhaps most photos have captured the essence of this sweet and compassionate man. If I had known he lived within a stones throw I would have knocked on his door and Thanked Him. You see my Son was always the odd guy out, with social issues and being in Special Ed. he struggled to be accepted. Fred took him under his wing for this short time and joked/laughed with him…reached out to another Spirit who needed to feel accepted. He cleared his dishes and asked what help was needed in the kitchen. If I asked that wood be brought in he gladly assisted. I look back thinking the others were there to party and have a good time…he was there to have a good time and just BE present…an Old Soul…for sure. Before I knew it was Fred, I thought for sure I would Never swim or float in our pool….lightening and snow storms were the magical times. On Feb.5th I took the photo into the pool room and sat making my own peace… What I know from the death of my own brother: remember his Birth date and the day that he died. Don’t ask what they need… suggest a coffee date or “let’s go for a walk”.. and always let them reminisce…To his friends…stay in contact with his parents and family…you will remind them that Life goes on and that Fred has not been forgotten. The Loss of A Child Is THE GREATEST LOSS OF ALL! If you ever share photos let me know…I want to share and see the Joy he was to others. Peace, just A Mom

  4. I went to high school with Fred. I didn’t know until I just read the Bellarmine Today in the mail. I saw his name, and I thought it was a misprint, so I looked it up and sadly it’s true. I was in AP World History with Fred in senior year. He was so nice, always smiling. I can’t believe he’s gone. We were supposed to go to tolo together for senior year. He was going to wear a Zoot suit. But he got sick the day before. I will always remember Fred. Strange, but I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately; he just sort of pops up in my head. He was one of a kind. My heart cries at the loss of this beautiful soul. I wish his family and friends all the best and all my comfort and love in these horrible times. Fred will be sorely missed.

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