China Camp salt marsh at sunset by Harriot Manley

Steve Deering, a true park champion, passes away

A core board member of FOCC shared his intelligence, humor, and commitment

Steve Deering, 1945-2022

We are sad to share the news that Steve Deering, one of Friends of China Camp’s most valued champions and a founding board member, passed away unexpectedly this past December. Steve was a passionate advocate for our beloved park, bringing his legal skills and experience to help negotiate FOCC’s takeover as operators of the park in 2012. During the ensuing decade, Steve did everything from chairing the board, to leading tours, to picking up roadside litter.

Executive Director Martin Lowenstein stresses how invaluable Steve was in every way. “For over 10 years, Steve was an active board member, as well as a cultural history docent and trail ambassador,” says Martin. “Steve played a key role in the launch of Friends of China Camp as a park operator, negotiated our original operating agreement with the state, and helped to guide our organization’s growth over subsequent years.”

Founding board member Ed Lai also notes how devoted Steve was to preserving the park. “I cherish memories of working closely together with Steve to negotiate the key contracts with the state that set Friends of China Camp well on our course,” says Ed. “Steve loved China Camp and was so instrumental in shepherding FOCC and giving it financial security. I will miss him. May he rest in peace.”

Board member Joyce Abrams adds how much Steve meant to FOCC and the park. “His tenacity, passion, skill, and expertise contributed to what FOCC is today.”

As a fellow board member and volunteer, I enjoyed sharing wry jokes with Steve. I could count on him for obscure Nabokovian puns and even more obscure East Asian political references. Recently, I read his delightful novel The Leonowens Veranda, and had the opportunity to discuss it a bit with him. His humor and humanity shine through the pages. 

Martin Lowenstein sums it up. “We will miss the intelligence, commitment, and care that Steve brought to all China Camp matters. And we will miss his friendship.”—by Andy Kives, FOCC Board Chair

PHOTOS: (top) Harriot manley/FOCC, (insert) courtesy of steve deering