Christ the King Award Recipient for 2014:
Michael Stecher ’62
On Nov. 23, 2014, Michael Stecher ’62 received the Christ the King Award, the highest honor SI bestows upon a graduate of the school.
Below is the text of the citation read at the Mass.
Located diagonally opposite Union Square, The City of Paris Dry Goods Company (later known simply as The City of Paris) was one of San Francisco's most important department stores from 1850 to 1976. Fred Stecher, father of Fred Jr. and Michael, worked at The City of Paris for sixty-four years. Upon retirement, the company rewarded Mr. Stecher’s loyalty by presenting him with a pen and pencil set. When his grown son Mike asked him, “Dad, how can they treat you like that?” Fred replied, “What do you mean? They employed me for sixty-four years and never missed a paycheck. I owe everything to that company.”
Today we honor Fred’s son, Michael Joseph Stecher ’62 as the recipient of The Alumni Association of Saint Ignatius College Preparatory’s highest honor, the Christ the King Award. Fred’s influence on Mike’s life is clear. Like his father, Mike is recognized by everyone who has met him for his work-ethic, compassion, service, and optimism.
It is no surprise that Mike’s group of friends in high school was known as the “Happiness Boys.” One reason for this moniker might have something to do with their elected club president—Adolph Coors—but probably more accurately they earned this title because of their attitude: a simple and sometimes stubborn perspective that life is precious and good and should be respected.
For Mike, his priorities are elemental, and, simply put, they define him. He is a man who knows what is important and isn’t reserved about articulating his principles. But perhaps Father Michael Mahoney, member of the Capuchin Order and pastor of Our Lady of Angels Parish, explains it best when he says, “Michael Stecher is truly a man rich in faith, family, and friends.”
Mike was born to Mary and Fred Stecher in San Francisco, California in 1944. He grew up in Holy Name Parish and went to Holy Name School. He then attended St. Ignatius High School and graduated in 1962 before matriculating to the University of San Francisco, from which he graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. He next attended the Golden Gate College of Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate Degree. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1970.
While Mike was studying at USF, he was also dating a gal from Dominican College named Pat Tuchler. They had met in high school, when Pat was attending St. Rose Academy and Mike was at SI, but their relationship blossomed after college, and the two got married while Mike was still studying law. In a strange but lovely coincidence, the two were married on November 23rd, 1968. Today is their 46th wedding anniversary. And to this day, Mike says of his bride: “She is absolutely the most important thing in my life.”
By the time Mike had finished law school, the couple already had two children, and they were on their way to building one of the strongest families associated with the SI community. When all was said and done, Mike and Pat had five children: Stacy, Carole, Chris, Matt, and Jennifer.
Their children’s success is a testament to the kinds of parents Mike and Pat have been to their brood. Get a load of this all-star team of scholars: Stacy—Boston College; Carole—UCLA; Christopher—Stanford; Matthew—Notre Dame, and Jennifer—Georgetown.
Regarding his children’s academic success, Mike has said, “If you had the opportunity to see my grades at SI, you’d know that this has nothing to do with me. I give complete credit to my dear bride. Pat is a teacher, and she taught them how to study and how to respect education.”
Although Mike refuses to take any credit in regards to the academic success of his kids, there is no denying the tremendous influence he has had in all other aspects of their development. Matt Stecher, the outstanding chemistry teacher and championship baseball coach, said of his parents’ tutelage: “They were demanding without being strict. They set very specific guidelines for us growing up and held us accountable for our actions. My dad was always consistent with us. He was always fair but never allowed us to do less than our best.”
Perhaps the greatest gift that Mike has given to his children is time. For over a decade, Mike arrived at work at 6:00 AM so that he’d be able to get back to San Mateo in time to coach his kids—all five of them—until they’d all finished at OLA. In fact, with his son-in-law, Roy Nickolai, he even coached his grandson, Nate, who will be graduating from SI this spring.
Mike’s penchant for service has never been reserved for his family. He has been a member of the Board of Directors at the Olympic Club as well as the Olympic Club Foundation Legacy Circle. He has been on the board of the Capuchin Franciscan Mission Foundation. He has served in the Saint Thomas More Society and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Mateo—Restorative Justice Ministry, in which he continues to visit inmates every week at the county jail. He and Pat are Ambassadors for the Father Carlin Heritage Society, through which Mike has used his expertise to advise friends of the SI community with their estate planning. He served as President of the Saint Ignatius Alumni Board for thirteen years, during which he led SI alums on service trips to St. Anthony’s Dining Room and even into gang territory.
His service, of course, is rooted in faith. He has attended mass at Our Lady of Angels Church every day for the past forty years. Every day. He never misses. He does this to “spend time with my wife and God and take a break from all the other B.S. going on out there.” Father Mike Mahoney calls Mike Stecher one of the pillars of the church … “a great example of how families should worship and participate in the life of a parish.”
Mike Stecher gives a lot of credit to the teachers and priests who influenced him while he was at S.I. and beyond. Fr. Spohn, Fr. Leonard, Fr. Reed, Fr. Enright, and Brother Sullivan helped set the groundwork for Mike. And when he came back as a member of the Alumni Board and as a parent, he developed life-long friendships with Fr. Sauer, Fr. Prietto, Fr. Toohey, Fr. Stiegler, Brother Lee, and Brother Draper. In regards to his experiences at S.I., Mike says, “What I learned at this school is the foundation of my whole life.”
This foundation includes the friends that Mike made through S.I., the “Happiness Boys” and others. They have stuck together all these years. They started their regular lunches at Capp’s Corner right out of college over forty years ago. The get-togethers later moved to The Double Play and have ultimately landed at Original Joe’s. Mike gives most of the credit to buddies Tony Delucchi and Brian Kearney, who have been instrumental in keeping the class together. Brian’s explanation for the long-standing friendships: “Faith, common values, marrying well, always celebrating the good times and being there for each other during the difficult times.”
The group of pals extends beyond the class of ’62 and includes great friends like Maury Growney, Bert Keane, Ed Kenny, and Father Ray Allender. Mike says the friends stick together because they never talk about business or politics, and they never take each other too seriously, which is clearly revealed in the nicknames Ed Rhein has assigned to his comrades. Mike Stecher’s handle: “General Crotch.”
Perhaps the best way to understand this great man, the General, is through his and Pat’s love and devotion to each other and to their parents. From 1987-2005, either Pat’s dad or Mike’s mom was living in the Stecher house. Mike’s mom lived to be a hundred years old. Mike claims that he and Pat did this so that his children would get the message that they’d be doing the same thing for him, but we know better.
Mike, you are a kind and generous and prayerful man. You are a model father to your five kids and an impeccable grandfather to your seventeen grandkids. We are proud to honor you today for all your accomplishments.
On behalf of the school, the SI Alumni Association, the Regents and Trustees, thank you for being a loyal and humble friend of SI and a role model for future Ignatians.
SAINT IGNATIUS COLLEGE PREPARATORY is proud to bestow its highest honor, the Christ the King Award, upon distinguished graduate Michael Joseph Stecher, Class of 1962.
GIVEN THIS TWENTY-THIRD DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2014.