Steven Clark Surbeck
Nov 26, 1946 – July 14, 2020
Steven Surbeck grew up on a Deer Creek farm and graduated from Edmond High School in 1965. He attended OSU, graduating in 1969 with a degree in English Literature and later received a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Dartmouth College. He often credits Glenn Sears with directing him to a “special opportunity” to work with young people as a teacher/coach. Ultimately, Steve would teach for 35 years at Casady School where strong faculty community nurtured and supported him, and where he formed many life-long mentors and dear friends.
In a 1982 Oklahoman article titled ‘Casady Mat Coach Credits Character,” Steven shunned credit for his team’s success, but said, ‘I get the opportunity to see kids develop character under pressure.” In a note found on his less than organized desk was a reminder to his wrestlers; “In case you don’t get it…you were a team tonight – especially who fought to stay off his back.” He believed that students and athletes needed “the ability to recognize when one had performed skillfully, yet lost.” He coached state champions in both wrestling and girls’ tennis. Trained at NOLS, he was also an outdoor educator who helped lead extended backpacking trips for students to places like the Canadian Boundary Waters, the Grand Canyon and mountains of New Mexico.
His deep love of literature guided his classroom teaching. Using the Socratic method, honed under Dr. Mary Rohrberger at OSU, he guided discussions on everything from Shakespeare to Steinbeck; Twain to Atwood. His favorite book was always the one he was teaching or reading at the time.
In his retirement, he taught OLLI classes for seniors and relished the loyal group of participants. He also volunteered at St. George’s Guild and at Children’s Hospital where he cuddled premature newborns. His stained glass work was unique and he sold many pieces, as well as made presents for friends and family. He had a passion for bridge and had been really missing his bridge buddies during the quarantine.
We will remember Steven Surbeck as a husband, father, teacher, coach, and artist. He was a loving and strong partner to Mary, his wife of 51 years. He was the proud father of Matthew Surbeck (wife, Mariam) and Dr. Leslie Surbeck (husband Dr. Seth Janus).He was “papa” to four treasured granddaughters, Megan, Caroline, Katherine, and Charlotte. Survivors include his sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Bob Foster, nephews Scott and Luke Foster (wife, Treva, son Ian and daughter Kate). He is preceded in death by his parents, Katherine and Clark Surbeck and grandmother, Helen Reif.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made via the Oklahoma City Community Foundation (1000 N. Broadway Ave. 73102 – www.occf.org) to either the Casady School Wrestling Fund or the Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition Fund. A celebration of his life is being planned for later in the Fall of 2020.