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Steven Earl Gaddis

Posted By Hall-Wynne On December 13, 2018 @ 11:58 am In Durham,Obituaries | 19 Comments

In Memorial

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.

Condolences for the family of “Steven Earl Gaddis”

Condolence from Kim & Sig Feuersanger on December 13th, 2018 3:54 pm

Dear Gaddis Family,

We are so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful obituary and what a beautiful life Mr. Gaddis lead. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Love and hugs to you all.

Kim & Sig Feuersanger
(Kim is Leslie’s co-worker at LTAM)

Condolence from Mazetta Wynn on December 13th, 2018 4:01 pm

Thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Condolence from Jean Wozencraft-Ornellas on December 13th, 2018 5:12 pm

Dear Beth, and Gaddis family.
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Although I never met him, Steven sounds like a wonderful man, whose passing causes deep sorrow, but whose life clearly brought great joy to those who knew him. I hope those wonderful memories can sustain you in the days to come.

Condolence from Nicole Baxter on December 13th, 2018 8:30 pm

I am very sorry for your loss, and agree fully with all the kind words that fill his obituary. As soon as I met him, he invited me to join DAD meetings, which I happily did for a few years. He was kind and generous with a wonderful sense of humor, and was well loved by all who met him.

Condolence from Aggie Crews on December 14th, 2018 12:59 am

To Beth and Steve’s family,

Kind, caring and thoughtful is how I remember Steve and whom I was fortunate to know and work with for some years. My sympathy goes out for your loss.

Condolence from Steve Toll on December 14th, 2018 7:35 am

I loved Steve and will fondly remember all of our great conversations at the Glass Jug. We shared a love of cooking and baking and shared our cooking creations with one another. I will surely miss him.

Condolence from JeanMarie Vinecourt on December 14th, 2018 8:28 am

Beth, I know how very very hard this must be having lost my own special husband 10 years ago, also in December. Nothing can take away the wonderful years you have had together. Always remember he would want you to be happy and enjoy your life, the life he was such a big part of.


Condolence from Lisa Creed on December 14th, 2018 8:52 am

Dear Beth and Gaddis family,

I am deeply sorry for your loss. Steve was a lovely man. Back in the 1980’s we overlapped at the NCSU SOD. We spent many a Friday afternoon enjoying drink and conversation with other grad students. Since then, running into Steve was always fun and entertaining. I will miss his warmth and humor. You are all in my heart.

Condolence from Alyce Turner on December 14th, 2018 1:37 pm

Beth and family, It is with much sadness that I offer condolences on hour loss of this wonderful man. Thoughts and Prayers are with you. Love Alyce

Condolence from Mary Pardo on December 14th, 2018 3:37 pm

Every single memory I have of Steve is full of joy. I am so very sorry that we won’t be making new ones, but I know he’s present with us in all the things that make us love this life.

Condolence from David Lucas on December 14th, 2018 7:04 pm

Gen Gaddis,

Please know that Kathi and I will keep your family in our prayers.


David Lucas

Condolence from Audrey on December 14th, 2018 7:53 pm

So sorry to hear this. I’ve known Steve since Nathan and Leslie were little. And worked with Dale for many years. Thoughts and prayers to all the family.

Condolence from Ms. Mireia Poveda Bort on December 15th, 2018 6:28 am

We are sorry for your loss. Much love to Tony, Grandad and the Gaddis family from the Poveda-Bort family.

Condolence from Ted Hoskins on December 15th, 2018 9:58 am

Steve was definitely one of the good guys. He is fondly remembered and greatly missed.

Condolence from Jane and Paul Brown on December 17th, 2018 11:02 am

Dear Beth and Gaddis family,

We are saddened by the loss of Steve, a truly remarkable person. His legacy is evident in his many accomplishments in Durham and also in the lives he touched. His intelligence, good humor, and concern for others will be missed.

Condolence from David Arneson on December 17th, 2018 4:49 pm

My condolences to Beth and the Gaddis family. I served with Steve and Beth on the Historic Preservation Commission and sometimes with Durham Area Designers. Steve was always a source of great knowledge and greater compassion and kindness, he will be deeply missed. Peace.

Condolence from Pam Porter on December 18th, 2018 1:14 pm

I met Steve when I became a member of the Durham Area Designers a couple years ago. I really enjoyed conversations with him about Durham – past, present, and future. He was a kind and welcoming presence and I always felt included in the conversation being a DAD newbie. His passion for Durham was evident even after only a couple of conversations with him.

One fond memory I have of Steve is him giving me a big hug after my dad passed away. He really did
radiate kindness.

I am really sad to hear of his passing. Sending love and light to his family.

Condolence from Vicky F. on December 20th, 2018 7:38 pm

I am so sorry for your loss.

Condolence from Jeremy Farber on December 26th, 2018 2:34 pm

Steve was a warm and wonderful friend. His professorial demeanor reminded me of my father and so I took to him instantly. The Library addition to the McGinnis Bell residence in Chapel Hill was my introduction to modern, residential architecture that has since become my bread and butter.
He was thoughtful and kind, intelligent and wise. Reading his obituary, I learned that he reinvented himself several times. I feel like knowing him made me a better person.
I miss him.

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