As I’ve been thinking about these blogposts about Steven, it dawned on me that so much of our friendship isn’t best reflected by dramatic stories, but by the more constant, mundane, day-in and day-out characteristics of a great friendship. So, this post will read more like a string of consciousness.
Steven was an incredibly generous person. Some people reading this have probably stayed at his condo right on Myrtle Beach. Steven would give you the shirt off his back, but he did have one very strong expectation. If you used something of his, he expected you to take care of it the same way he did. That was a very high bar because he took meticulous care of whatever he owned.
Most of his sharing, though, didn’t involve lending or sharing. Most of what I saw was selfless giving. I’ve blogged elsewhere his generosity with our children. In the early years of our friendship he lavished them with gifts, often spending more money than we did. We had a good talk where I persuaded him that it would be best for the children if they didn’t primarily think of him as a giver of gifts to them. After that he slipped up only occasionally, because he was still wired primarily to give.
Steven was an important donor to the University of North Carolina, Pembroke.
Mostly, when I think of Steven’s generosity, I think of how he gave his time. A quick perusal of Facebook posts shows dozens of students who reported that Dr. Bourquin took the extra time to offer them a transformative experience in learning math. Dozens or hundreds of other posts refer to the great times people had with Steven because he invested time with them.
One experience of generosity that had a transformative impact on our family is that Steven let our younger three children sit in on his summer classes at UNCP. Not only were Alec, Dominic, and Elena able to have classroom time with Steven, but he also drove them from Lumberton to UNCP. Amy homeschooled these three kids from 5th-8th grades, so they were available to sit in on an UNCP course in May.
Can you imagine what a heady experience this was for a 7th-grader? First, they already have a close, personal relationship with the professor. Then, they are chauffeured to campus in a 700 series BMW. Finally, in class he would be so supportive of them even though all three would have preferred to slink into the corner of class unnoticed.
He would celebrate every accomplishment the kids had with a Boy Scout rank, racquetball success, etc. Steven was always so humble with his own accomplishments and supportive and celebratory of other people’s.