Off the Press

September 13, 2011

In New York or here, the lesson is to love

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Pundits and writers this week have been trying to come up with some profound things to say about the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country. What are the lessons? What has changed?

Here is a lesson I feel I have learned and would like to share, not only from the last 10 years since 9/11, but from my last 15 years of being blessed with this career at The Issaquah Press:

Love in the now. Love often. Don’t leave people guessing, make sure they know you love them.

One of our obituaries this week is for Lillian Tucker, 81, of Issaquah. “Auntie Lil” or “Mrs. Santa Claus” as I knew her, was one of the first people I met here in 1996. She was famous for her holiday nutcracker collection and her love of the Seattle Mariners. She worked a number of years in the deli at the Front Street Market, serving and smiling for her customers.

There have been so many people, some I was able to know and some I wasn’t.

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Liberty High School to host garage sale April 23

April 19, 2011

Liberty High School’s first garage sale is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 23 in its main gym.

The garage sale is in honor of Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall who died of multiple system atrophy in February. All proceeds will benefit Shy-Drager, an organization that offers support to families affected by the disease.

Donate gently used clothing, home furnishings, luggage, electronics, computer equipment, child supplies and sports equipment for the sale. Students from the school’s Associated Student Body will collect donations at the school from 2:30-3:30 p.m. through April 20 in the upper gym.

School officials ask that parents drop off donations with a student present.

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Steve Birdsall, beloved Maple Hills Elementary School teacher, dies

February 22, 2011

Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall, known for his Hawaiian shirts and hiking, died Feb. 18 after an illness. He was 52.

“In his 23 years in the Issaquah School District, Mr. Birdsall touched the lives of countless students, parents and staff members,” Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane wrote in an e-mail to parents the day he died.

Steve Birdsall, Maple Hills Elementary fifth-grade teacher, in June 2010 prepared for medical leave after a 23-year career in the Issaquah School District — 22 of those years spent at Maple Hills. By Greg Farrar

Birdsall took a medical leave in 2010 after the disease he and his doctors were fighting — multiple system atrophy — took its toll on his body.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. MSA patients have widespread damage to a part of the nervous system that controls important functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.

In an interview with The Issaquah Press in June, Birdsall said he participated in clinical studies for the disease in hopes that a better treatment would be available to future MSA patients.

Beane recalled how Birdsall introduced himself and continued working despite his illness when she started working at Maple Hills in 2007.

“He was good to me, as a first year principal,” she said. “He was honest. He would send me e-mails if I made a good decision and send me e-mails if he thought I needed to think about something. He helped me grow as a professional.”

Birdsall was married to Polly Vaughn and had two teenage children, Madison and Kellen Birdsall.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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Steven A. Birdsall

February 22, 2011

Steven Birdsall

Steven A. Birdsall, of Maple Valley, died Feb. 18, 2011, in Maple Valley. He was 52.

A celebration of his life was held Feb. 22.

Steve was born to Richard and Arlene Birdsall on May 5, 1958, in Fullerton, Calif.

Steve graduated from Issaquah High School in 1977 and from Linfield College in 1981. He received his teaching certificate from Central Washington University in 1987, and his master’s in curriculum development from Leslie College in the early 1990s. Steve was a dedicated fifth-grade teacher at Maple Hills Elementary School for 22 years.

On Jan. 9, 1988, Steve married Polly Vaughn. Family was very important to Steve. He found happiness with his wife and joy in his children Madison and Kellen Birdsall. He loved vacationing with his family, jogging with Polly, watching his kids play sports, listening to Maddie sing and joking with Kellen.

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