Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Hole to Fill

They say that, when a good person dies, it leaves a hole in the world that the rest of us have to work that much harder to fill. You probably have never heard of Steve Semmann, but we all have big, big hole to work on right now.

Steve came to work for me at the Wisconsin Sentencing Commission on loan from the state's Administrative Office of the Courts. We worked extensively with state court data, and Steve was one of the major players in that. We were fortunate to get him, and his work and attitude were exemplary. If you want to see one of the best reports on recidivism and applications of studies to robbery, go to the commission's site (it still exists even though the commission doesn't now) here and use it for a model. Steve wrote it. He left the state courts and us to go become the state's Statistical Analysis Center director and framed a proposal to create a criminal justice statistical bureau that would have put the state on the forefront of analysis in the nation. It made it into the gov's budget but the WI legislature, executing its usual wisdom and foresight, of course cut it in the final agreement.

The thing about Steve, though, wasn't his substantial contribution to the state. Steve was a good person. It's hard to talk about guys who were devoted fathers and family men in ways that aren't too familiar and trite, so I won't even try. He left young children who were always his favorite topic of conversation and a wife who he clearly felt lucky to have captured. He had a series of illnesses that apparently weren't related, but, at least in my experience with him, he faced them with a calm courage and a belief that every moment was to be cherished and relished. He knew how lucky he was, and he took none of it for granted. Steve was just a good man, too young to have this happen to him, too young for the rest of us to have lost. I've attached his obit below, which actually tells you more and better than I ever could. Please read it if you have time. And then join me.

There's that hole to fill.

Semmann, Steven J. MCFARLAND - Steven Jay Semmann, age 44, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007, at home surrounded by his loving family. He was born on Nov. 10, 1963 in Milwaukee, the son of Ron and Miriam (Goetsch) Semmann. Steve attended the UW-Madison where he was a trumpeter in Rank 1 with the marching band. He graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and received his Masters of Arts degree in public policy and administration from the UW LaFollette Institute. On July 18, 1992, Steve married his best friend, Beverly Anderson. They lived for one and a half years in Evanston, Ill., where they enjoyed time exploring Chicago with family and friends. They returned to Madison, where Steve took a position with the State of Wisconsin working for the Supreme Court, and had a significant hand in developing the CCAP system. His career continued as court administrator for District V, then assistant director of the Sentencing Commission. Steve most recently held the position of director of the Statistical Analysis Center for the Office of Justice Assistance; a position Steve loved. He also enjoyed spending time with his children. Steve was a great T-Ball coach and enjoyed watching his sons play hockey and soccer. With his daughter, he loved to watch her dance. As all great dad's do, he loved reading to his children. Steve was very close with his family and considered his parents and two brothers and sister to be more than family, they were also his friends. Steve was an active member of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church. He was a Sunday school teacher, vice president and currently president of the church council.

In May of 2006, Steve was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer. Throughout his journey and struggle with this disease, Steve taught those he knew about faith, courage and grace, all with a touch of humor. He was comforted by music, which was a continuous theme throughout his life. He enjoyed the outdoors, boating, time spent at cottages, camping and fishing with his family. He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Beverly; daughter, Kristin; sons, Brian and Jacob; parents, Ron and Mim Semmann; sister, Cindi (Jim) Matras; brothers, Tim (Lisa) Semmann and Mike (Joleen) Semmann; grandmother, Gertrude Goetsch; father and mother-in-law, Carl "Bill" and Bonnie Anderson; sister-in-law, Barb (Steve) Koston; nieces, Hannah, Abby, Laura, Elizabeth and Alyssa; nephew, Tyler; and many aunts and uncles. A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 at 11 a.m. at BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH, 1700 Broadway Dr., Sun Prairie. Burial will follow at Roselawn Memorial Park. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at OUR SAVIOUR'S LUTHERAN CHURCH, 1201 Droster Rd., Madison. Visitation will also be held on Wednesday prior to the funeral at the church from 10 a.m. until time of the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the family, for the children's college fund to be established. Gunderson East Funeral and Cremation Centers 5203 Monona Dr. (608) 221-5420


Tracy said...

I knew Steve from Marching Band in the 1980's at the University of Wisconsin. He was a warm and friendly person, with a whimsical smile. He loved his family and loved to speak of them with the greatest of affection. He was a great guy and a very good friend. We'll truly miss you Steve -- God Bless.

Bev said...

Wow, I was forwarded your blog and am so touched by the kind words you wrote about my husband. He found strength in his work, the people he worked with and the support that he received everyday. It was very hard for him when he was no longer physically able to work. It was always his goal to get back to OJA because he left so many of his goals unattained. We were glad he refocused and was able to spend more time with me and our 3 children. We needed that time with him, and got him involved in all of our activities, so much so he thought going back to work would allow him to rest more. Your thougts are so kind and we will always remember Steve for what a wonderful person he was.
God Bless

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