Dr. Stephen Horton Dill passed away on Monday, August 22, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri, less than three weeks after celebrating his 91st birthday with his family.
Steve was born in 1931 in Armour, South Dakota to Ruth (Horton) and Lansing Dill. Lansing died when Steve was very young, leaving Ruth to raise him mostly on her own. They spent many years at a resort hotel in Indiana where Ruth worked, a period in his life that Steve remembered fondly. Later, they moved to the small town of Sibley, Iowa, where he graduated high school.
Steve began studies at Morningside College, but interrupted his education to join the Air National Guard during the Korean War, serving in Maine and Louisiana. The experience instilled a life-long fascination with airplanes.
He then resumed his education, attending the University of Arkansas, where he met his wife, Jean Alice Davis, who he married in 1954. Steve and Jean moved to Laramie, Wyoming, so Steve could get a master’s degree. Steve then taught English at Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyoming, where they started a family with sons David and John. Later, the family moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas so Steve could continue his graduate education.
Before finishing his PhD, the family moved to Topeka, Kansas where he taught at Washburn University, and where daughter Cameo was born. He finished his dissertation in Topeka. The chair of the English Department at Kansas University, Lawrence, mistaking Steve for a graduate student there, mentioned that there was a professorship available at the University of South Dakota. Steve got the job and moved the family to a farmhouse just outside of Vermillion, where youngest son Stephen was born. The barn served as a venue for loud parties for USD faculty and students. Eventually the family moved into town a few blocks from the USD campus, where Steve and Jean lived until his retirement in 1994.
The couple then moved to the somewhat warmer climate of Lawrence, Kansas, which was comfortable since it was a college town – and also near son John. In Lawrence, Steve enjoyed entertaining friends and family, fishing, helping to maintain the antique printing presses at the University of Kansas, and working on his dart game.
Steve was a devoted husband and father. His children remember many family camping trips, including expeditions to the east and west coasts of the U.S., as well as many weeks-long stays in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Steve taught English literature at Navajo Community College in Arizona for half a summer, bringing Jean and the kids with him. The couple packed the whole family off to England on sabbatical in 1973-4 for six months. There were two more sabbaticals in England, with fewer kids, in later years. From all of these trips came lifelong memories and lifelong friendships. In their later years, Steve cared for Jean for almost a decade as she was increasingly disabled by Alzheimer's disease.
Jean passed away in 2011 after 56 years of marriage. Steve then married Jean Jenkins, who sadly passed away the following year, but not before the couple went on a cruise to Alaska that Steve recalled as one of the high points of his life. Despite limited mobility in his later years, Steve always enjoyed a good conversation and meals with those he cared for.
A strong believer in the value of education in the humanities, Steve loved language, literature, teaching, and students. He also enjoyed home remodeling, British and Roman history, and WWII aviation. All of his kids acquired his irreverent sense of humor.
In addition to his two wives, Steve was preceded in death by his son John, a recent event that devastated him. He is survived by his children David Dill, Steve Dill, and Cameo Flood, daughter-in-law Cindy Dill, and his grandchildren Elliot Dill, Leslie Dill, Jake Flood, and Erin Flood.
The family will hold a private memorial service. He would have welcomed gifts in his memory to education at the University of Arkansas.