Steven Scheer Wegener
Sept. 23, 1946-Aug. 14, 2013
Nevada City, California
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Steve Wegener passed away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the midst of an adventurous road trip, exploring the wild frontier of Alaska with two of his brothers, Mark and Gary.
He had been in treatment for lung cancer for the last four years, throughout which his lust for life endured, and was expressed through abundant time with family, his ongoing environmental research, extensive travel, and his involvement in cancer treatment studies through UC Davis.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, on September 23, 1946, Steve moved with his family to Woodland, California, where he spent his childhood and graduated from Woodland High School in 1964.
With the Vietnam War escalating, and having been raised by two proud members of the U.S. Marine Corp, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1968, where he served for three years. He attended UC Davis, graduating with a degree in civil engineering in 1973.
After several moves and shorter assignments, Steve settled in Menlo Park at the U.S. Geological Survey in 1978, where he worked for many years until his career took him to the NASA/Ames Research Center. He especially relished the dozens of field projects he managed throughout the United States and abroad, in locations such as Mt. Hood, Oregon, New Madrid, Missouri, Saudi Arabia and beyond.
His work at NASA Ames was equally exciting, as he tackled the new frontiers of high-altitude atmospheric research and later airborne science missions from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Although officially retired from NASA in 2004, he never left original research, continuing his work as a scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute and with his own consultancy, Wegener Airborne Science.
Steve found his dream house in Nevada City, a beautiful custom-built, energy-efficient home on a 10-acre hilltop in the foothills of the Sierras, where he settled in 2003 with Mahala O’Brien. Shortly after moving to Grass Valley, Steve and Mahala celebrated his retirement by taking a three month motorhome trip across the U.S.: visiting family in Wyoming, catching a conference in Chicago (despite retirement), following the autumn colors down from New England to the Smokey Mountains, and exploring the red rocks of the Southwest and the Grand Canyon before returning home. Steve and Mahala married in 2005, and have been living life together with a sense of wonder and exploration ever since.
Adventures were always Steve’s passion; throughout his life he traveled extensively both domestically and abroad, and he especially enjoyed taking his boat to explore lakes and rivers. He never turned down an opportunity for a trip, large or small, and he enjoyed the travel preparations and reflecting afterwards with friends and family as much as the adventure itself. Steve’s legacy is to live every day to it’s fullest, which he did right up until the end; he will forever be admired, missed and loved.
He is survived by his wife Mahala, his children Whitney and Daniel; his brothers, Gary (and wife Joan), Mark, and Scott (and wife Joan); and his stepchildren Kassie Hoglund and Shauna Gareth. He also leaves behind dozens of loving nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends and colleagues.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Margy Lou and Eliot Brede "Bud" Wegener. He was previously married to Paula Wong Wegener, and to Laurel Leone, mother of Whitney and Daniel.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the NASA Ames Conference Center in Mountain View on September 7 at 11:00 a.m. . See http://steve-wegener.muchloved.com for details/photos on Steve's life, and how to get to Ames if you want to come on the 7th.
In lieu of flowers, donations to The U.C. Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center (Dr. Gandara’s research) or Cancer Research Institute are suggested.