‘You could count on Steven Furtado’
By Sam Bhagwat
of The Valley Mirror
“You could count on Steven to get whatever you needed done.”
That’s what band booster president and parent Warren Wehmeyer says of the Willows High senior.
The group raises money for band and choir.
“Steven would always volunteer to help. We were on a first-name basis. He was the only person in Willows High that had permission to call me by my first name.”
“He had a lot of drive. A lot of potential. I mean that from my heart.”
“We had things to move and carry, we had things to sell, tickets. He was always willing to help. When we were setting up, winter concert, for a silent auction, he was right there to help. He didn’t have to ask me what I wanted. He just jumped in, and he did it.”
“He was able to work on his own without being told what to do. He knew what had to be done, and he did it. He had a lot of initiative.”
With Steven, “It was, let’s get this damn job done. I always treated him like an adult.”
“I don’t put up with crap from anyone. And I never got it from him.”
Mr. Wehmeyer recalls Steven’s involvement with a now-disbanded Ducks Unlimited conservation group, for eight years starting at age 8. The group centered around a yearly dinner.
“Steven was active during all of the planning of the dinners. He was an active and voting member.
“When we were at the dinner, he was what we called a runner. They would do all the work, hand out the raffle prizes, make sure anything that needed to be done was done. That’s the hardest job.”
“It didn’t matter what there was to do, come up with ideas, plan, he did it. (Parents) Denise and Dan encouraged him to come to the meetings. He never missed one.”
“Six, seven months from before the dinner you had to plan. And Steven was there, one night a month. And then he gave me the night of the dinner. There was nothing that adult members do that he didn’t do.”
Mr. Wehmeyer highlights Steven’s accomplishments and activities: band, football, golf, woodshop, work at Sani-Food Market, an Eagle Scout, hunting.
“How this kid had time for a love life I didn’t know,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t ask.”
“(Steven) had an impact on everyone’s life in this town. Everyone who ever met him was impacted by him. He was one of the most impressive kids that I have ever met,” he said.
“Other than my children,” Mr. Wehmeyer amends.
“He had so much promise. He showed me, and he shows me, why we should not be afraid of the upcoming generation. When we see the quality of kids … There are some great kids. And Steven … unfortunately we have lost him. But we have confidence that everything will be okay. He showed that to me. And I can never forget that.”
Mr. Wehmeyer highlighted one memory of Steven that he’ll treasure.
“We were at a Ducks Unlimited event. The man who was providing the gun safe, Dan’s Safe Co. in Orland, needed a helper, needed someone to help sell tickets. And I told him, I’ve got the perfect person. I thought of Steven, took Steven over.”
“Dan took him, and the first 15, 20 minutes, Steven didn’t do too good. He was too shy, too shy to aggressively sell tickets, which is what you have to do at one of these things. Dan took him aside and told him, ‘Son, let’s talk about why you haven’t sold any tickets.’”
“It was that spirit of ‘what can you teach me?’ He was just so anxious to learn. He followed that man around all evening. And he learned from him. And before that evening was over, Dan was able to leave, Steven was able to sell all the tickets, handle all the money. And Steven sold his share. I think it shows a kid (that) thirsts and prays for knowledge. And (if) you give it to them …”
“Dan taught him how to sell. ‘Here’s what you do, you look that customer in the face and you did this, you do this, you do this,’ and damned if Steven didn’t pick it up."
“I just want to remember Steven as the young man who was always so anxious to learn.”