Remembering and honoring the life and influence of a beloved sailor, writer, friend, and father.

When Steve started contributing to 48° North in 1988, he kept pages turning with the fictional series “Adventures of Boomer Finn.” Steve’s writing was clever, fun, and salty, and helped develop the personality of the magazine in the early years. A new father himself, Steve also wrote about racing with his father, Don, on Lake Washington as they “dipped and doodled” before the start, truly capturing a Meydenbauer race day.

Steve passed away in March, leaving behind his daughter, Calla, and son, Carson, with whom he shared his playful nature and passion for sailing. He leaves a legacy of a wind-driven life, through his writing and his immeasurable enthusiasm for boats and sailing, as well as the way he imparted that love to his friends and family. Steve Ward was the kind of person 48° North was built for, and one it was built on.

Steven Lindsey Ward was born in Pensacola, Fla. to Shirly Sands and Donald Ward on July 14, 1953. Two years later, the family settled on Mercer Island. Surrounded by the water, Mercer Island was always his home. He spent his early years there and returned later in life.

As a young adult, Steve found his way up to Alaska, building canneries, wreaking havoc, and making some forever friends. Back in Seattle, he delivered beer — which fortuitously led him to the 48° North offices.

He was active and creative throughout his life: a record-setting swimmer, an avid windsurfer in Hood River, a toy inventor, and a “decent” guitar player. In addition to his articles, he wrote a novel and screenplay. Steve’s career brought him to Mercer Island School District as a beloved bus driver and everyone’s favorite lunch room monitor. Sober for 27 years, Steve was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous communities in both Mercer Island and Seattle — he was a good listener and dedicated sponsor. 

Steve owned several boats. Calla says of her father, “It didn’t matter what boat it was, but it was always a shitty boat. He loved them all.” He found no end of joy in his son’s $6,000 Catalina 30 with countless epoxy-filled holes reinforcing the deck. Steve enjoyed big breeze days on Puget Sound with his friends and family, and always required both sails be employed even on the windiest days. “Throw up the jib, everybody loves to go fast!” he would declare. He lived aboard for a time and was married on J Dock at Shilshole. He took his kids to the San Juans and Blake Island, teaching them to fish off the back of the boat and ripping around in the dinghy. Calla remembers waking up to the sound of the chugging diesel, realizing they were halfway to Port Townsend and that her dad had singlehanded their 50-foot steel Brewer off the dock without waking the kids.

Those childhood memories stuck. Both Calla and Carson now have boats docked at Shilshole. Calla and her husband Benjamin — who both previously worked at 48° North — followed in her parents’ footsteps and were married on the dock at their home marina.

In addition to his two children, Steve is survived by his son-in-law, Benjamin; and granddaughter, Davy; two brothers, Bruce and Brian Ward; and a large, loving community of family and friends. To try and cover each life in which he influenced and touched would be doing them a disservice, you could write a novel about the impact Steve had in his friend’s lives.

The Ward family went sailing just a week before Steve’s passing. His absence is deeply felt around the community, but his spirit will live on, every time the wind blows.

In Steve’s memory, please consider a donation to the Washington State Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.