Steve Southards (Barbé) of Chimacum, Washington, passed away July 25, 2022, in Port Townsend, Washington of natural causes. He was 73.
Steve served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam as a SEAL in special forces operations, from 1965 to 1969. He was awarded several citations for his actions in the military.
After the service, he obtained his degree in diesel mechanics, and together with his electrical training and woodworking, they were skills that served him well in his profession as a shipwright, which he did for many years. Steve also worked with the repair crew aboard the “Ragland,” the famed wooden schooner of Neil Young, which they kept in good repair for trips to various destinations on the West Coast and around the world. Neil hosted dinners for the crew when they were in port during repairs.
He started his own business, Bear Blocks, making hardwood blocks for the rigging of sailing ships of all kinds. Steve loved to sail and had many memories of being happy on the water in his beloved sailboat, Queenahay.
Later in life, he wanted to honor his Indian ancestry by doing artwork and putting his woodworking skills to use. His father was Blackfoot and his mother was part Cree and French, and he spent time in his youth living on the Suquamish Reservation. The name that was given to him as a young man was “Standing Bear Walking” and was the name that he did his artwork under. He did marvelous carvings of cedar masks and rattles and created beautiful bentwood boxes in the style of the Northwest Native Americans. He attended several art shows around the Puget Sound, and his pieces adorn many households around the Northwest. He also traded his artwork for the work of other tribes’ artists and ended up decorating his home in Native American artwork from all over the western states.
One of Steve’s greatest joys was cooking. He did all the cooking, much to his wife’s delight, during their years together and didn’t repeat a recipe for almost two years after they were married. For several years before he retired, he sold fruit and vegetables from Yakima at a local fruit stand and enjoyed providing his customers with healthy edibles.
Steve was well-traveled and had an excellent knowledge of native plants and herbs of the area. He also had a gregarious nature and a quirky sense of humor. An extraordinary storyteller, he always had a twinkle in his eye and would put a smile on your face as he told the tale. He will be dearly missed by all those who loved him, especially his wife and his cats, Gunny and Bitsie.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Laurie; his daughter, Nicole Lawrence; sister Rita Pippinger; and brother Scott Storseth; and several grandchildren.
A private remembrance service is planned. Please consider donations in his name to Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wounded Warriors, or any other veterans’ groups.