Durham – Steven Earl Gaddis, age 72, died at home peacefully on December 12, 2018. He was born in Knoxville, TN on March 4, 1946 to the late Hazel Ketner Gaddis and Brigadier General Norman C. Gaddis. Born into a military family, Steve’s early childhood years were formative ones growing up in post-war Germany and England, as well as Texas, Montgomery, AL, Las Vegas, NV, and graduating from high school in Falls Church, VA. He then moved to Durham to attend Duke University, earning a degree in English. Aside from a year spent teaching high school in Baltimore, MD, Steve returned to his adopted hometown of Durham for the remainder of his life.
Married to Dale Watson in 1967, Steve later spent several happy years as a house husband helping to raise their two children involving them in all sorts of adventures and explorations. He adapted furniture-making skills to make toys. His volunteer work with the Cub Scouts led to hosting Pinewood Derby workshops at his home for more than a dozen years to help young scouts make their cars. He gardened, baked, and cooked voraciously. He enjoyed many years as a member of the Durham Civic Choral Society, and worked with the American Dance Festival when the organization first moved to Durham from NYC. He then returned to school to earn his Master’s in Architecture, graduating from NCSU in 1984.
Steve gave much of himself to make Durham a better city. A city with more beauty, with better public spaces, and with respect for our citizens by advocating for a better built environment. He, along with Dan Jewell and several others, founded Durham Area Designers, a group that wasn’t shy about picking up pen and paper and working out design solutions for public spaces when no one else would. These invariably took the form of a public design charrette, where the DAD members would sit down with stakeholders and community members with markers and tracing paper to make sure that the outcomes were truly democratic in nature. Several dozen of these charrettes were held over the ensuing years. Steve and Dan, on behalf of Durham Area Designers, were awarded the Golden Leaf Award for a legacy of Community Service in 2006.
He advocated passionately for a better and friendly public transportation system, with results that inspired the Bull City Connector Bus route, the associated unique bus shelters that incorporated public art, and helped push back hard on an ill-conceived effort to raise the freight rail tracks through downtown Durham, which would have resulted in separating north from south.
As an architect, he enjoyed many of his projects and the relationships he established with clients. He was proud of his contributions as an architect in Durham, most recently the pavilion for Bull City Burger and Brewery and the porch addition to Bull McCabe’s. With a 35-year legacy of architectural design in Durham and the greater Triangle, Steve has left a lasting legacy on the built environment which many of us enjoy today.
Steve Gaddis was a man who possessed infinite love for all those he knew, particularly his family. He knew no stranger; he had many friends. He was a hopeless romantic and an incredibly sensitive and sentimental man. He cared deeply for all people and fiercely wished to right the injustices of this world. His adamant belief was that every human deserved an individual greeting, direct eye contact, a handshake, and maybe a hug. He gave lots of hugs.
Steve was a formidable intellect. In October, 2018 he gave a paper at a national conference on the spolia churches of Rome. At an earlier conference he held people in suspense with his paper on how Vitruvius (the ancient Roman architect) “came” to Pittsburgh. Steve was poised to absorb any subject to which he set his mind. Over the last decade he had traveled a great deal to Italy with his wife, Beth. His Italian always earned accolades from the Italians. He loved having the opportunity to teach alongside Beth during the semester they spent in Sansepolcro with Meredith students, who he loved dearly. Love is a theme that will always be connected to Steve. Above all to his family. He leaves behind his revered father, Brig. General Norman C. Gaddis; his brother Tony (Neela) and their family; his children Nathan Gaddis and Leslie Gaddis and their mother, Dale Gaddis; his much-loved grandchildren, Magnolia Gaddis, Sacha Gaddis, and Jackson Mulvaney; his wife’s sons Luke Mulvaney and Andrew (Erin) Mulvaney; and his beloved, Beth Mulvaney. The one thought he voiced about his life was that he hoped people would remember him as a good man, a kind man. That he was.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Hazel Lee Gaddis Engineering Scholarship at Meredith College, 3800 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 2760. Attn: Billie Jo Cockman.
Funeral Services will be held 1:00PM Sunday, December 16, 2018 in the Chapel of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Friends may visit after the service in the Chapel.
The Mulvaney/Gaddis family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: www.hallwynne.com – select obituaries.