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Steve Spencer passed away Thursday afternoon October twelve. He is survived by his Wife Beverly and by me, Guy, his son. Steve was a handful, those of you that really knew him would back me up on that fact. Steve graduated from the Palouse High School, Steve may or may not have blown up the football field. Kids were wild back then. Steve was a self-made man, that is what impressed me the most about him. In the early 70's Steve and my Mom sold the house in Palouse, packed us up in an old pickup and we moved to Helena Montana. He worked for a cement contractor and started laying curb and gutters for a living. Somewhere along the line he shifted from concrete to construction, I remember this distinctly, he came home excited about a new toy he had just bought, and it was a worm drive Skill saw. Steve and the four year old me clearly had different ideas about what toys were. I also remember the day he almost cut his finger off with that saw. The cab of the pickup looked like a crime scene. I still have that saw, a man’s saw. Steve was a lot of things, some would say they wouldn’t recognize him without a beer and a cigarette. Mostly though Steve was a contractor, he bought out a small construction company and rebranded it Spencer and Co. He built some of the finest houses in the greater Helena area. He built entire subdivisions, he remodeled old Helena buildings, buildings on the historic register, he turned them into offices and homes and he did it in a way that made them modern and elegant without sacrificing the integrity of their original appearance, he was a master builder. His crown jewel was the Jefferson street house, the house we lived in. He took a forsaken piece of ground overlooking the historic Benton trail, and perched a modern elegant house on a rocky outcrop. Steve took a tough love approach, as a general contractor he had no shortage of summer jobs for me, by the eighth grade he had me roofing houses, I'm a little unclear about the child labor laws in Montana. In High school he had me reading blueprints and bidding houses. He was a little lacking in the communication department and would just take the tools out of my hands and show me what he meant. If I didn’t get it right the first time he had me do it again until it was. I guess he gave me a work ethic and problem solving skills. Steve as I mentioned was a career drinker and a career smoker but he was also a gifted athlete, I'll give you a minute to let that soak in. He had an extreme skier work for him one summer and as if by magic, Steve became an incredible skier, he just strapped on the skis and went for it. Steve was fearless. Steve built custom homes for a couple of judges and a surgeon, one of them must have given him some old golf clubs and without a single lesson Steve became an excellent golfer. He was without a doubt the best driver I have ever known he could handle any condition in any vehicle. He would scare the hell out of you as a passenger. Steve and I didn’t really have a lot in common, I liked to read and he liked to work. He worked all the time, he poured everything he had into the construction industry. It was a deal that went sideways in Helena that broke him. Financially it was a big hit, but it was the blow to his spirit that truly broke him. He just gave up after that. He and my Mom moved back to the farm in Palouse. That’s when my Dad became Steve, a stranger to me, the Steve that most of you knew, for better or for worse. Still a character for sure, but no ambition, he adopted a "What’s the point?" attitude. He took a series of falls, one of which led to Sandy stitching up his head and face. One morning he tipped over at the downtown grocery store, that would be the first time someone had to revive him, it wouldn’t be the last. He went to Potlatch at three in the morning to buy propane, the only thing you are going to find in Potlach at that hour is a deputy. You haven’t lived until you have picked up your Father at the Latah County Jail. My Mom took his keys and that was the last time he drove. So he took to walking up and down the highway in the middle of the night. My Mom brought him back to life twice, I brought him back once. After the EMTs left I said "Steve, that’s three times we have done this, I seriously doubt there is going to be a fourth." you can only beat the odds so many times, remember "the house always wins". It took two decades for him to get to that point but he passed away in moments. We did all we could for him these last twenty years but if Steve was anything he was stubborn. What Steve leaves behind is a sigh of relief, no more worrying in the middle of the night, no more being yelled at when we are just trying to help. No more indifference. He also leaves behind a legacy as a fine homebuilder, a good friend to his good friends. When he was still in the game he was fun to be around, we took some of the most incredible family vacations. He was a hard man who had a hard childhood, nothing was ever handed to him, but he was fair. He was loud and boisterous, but he had kind eyes and a winning smile. He flew sail planes. I missed him when he dropped out of the game and whoever this Steve character was for reasons I can’t explain, I'm going to miss him too. I guess in the end you don’t know what you don’t know, do you.
Kramer Funeral Home, Palouse, WA is caring for the family. Online condolences may be left at www.kramercares.com