Our community has lost one of its greatest citizens. Known by many, but not by enough. Loved by all who knew him. Steve Mager was never the mayor nor on City Council. He never led Community Main Street or chaired a major organization. He wasn’t elected or appointed to anything that I know of. Yet he was the greatest promoter of the best his beloved Waterloo could become.
He was a visionary and a bit of a vagrant. He had a home but broke bread with the homeless. He appeared at every function and supported every cause that had even a prayer of helping others. He showed up at your door, your business or on your social media page with the grace of a saint but the unexpectedness of a beggar.
You loved him even if you didn’t know him. He never threatened with his presence, he just smiled behind a beard as unstructured as his day and launched into a dissertation on whatever it was we should know about what we should know.
He was a hippy without the hip. He was a social justice warrior without waging war. He lived as he breathed, and his breath was drawn from the joy of living in the service of others.
His vision was our vision and our vision was his. I could go on and on juxtaposing words to create a mosaic of his contradictions, ironies, flaws and strengths, but it would never come close to the man himself. His biography will not be told in a narrative that fits on a page; his story is one that unfolds into the future. His story is being written by countless testimonials from so many people who were touched by him.
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From his work to create artistic spaces in our community, his support of the arts, of social work, to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and to enlighten every one of us to the joy of giving.
I saw Steve just a few months ago when he showed up unexpectedly at Figaro Figaro on a busy Friday night. I didn’t have time to talk to him, something I will regret for the rest of my life, as it was the last time I saw him. But my inattention at that moment didn’t deter Steve. He waited by the door until I found a moment to give him a hug.
He came to see friends, and see them he did.
May each and every one of us find such a spirit of love in our hearts as we move through our lives. Steve Mager just might be the most influential person this community will have ever known.
God bless you, Steve. Have you told Him yet about your sustainable community plan?