Steven Bollenbach Belanger Obituary – Oklahoman


Our devoted and beloved father, brother, partner, and friend, Steven Bollenbach Belanger, died peacefully, on July 11, 2022, of accelerated spinal stenosis, the result of a five-year bout with cancer of the prostate. He lived his final hours as he had lived his life from him: with courage and grace, surrounded by family, friends, and music.

Steven was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, on December 17, 1945, to Leo John (“Bel”) and Elleen (Bollenbach) Belanger, the third of three children. Steven was raised in Guymon, Oklahoma, where his father worked for Skelly Oil Company and his mother taught school and served as an organist for the Presbyterian church.

He has spent summers at the local swimming pool, becoming an expert diver and earning the admiration and sighs from more than one high school girl. His brother, Mike, introduced him to the music of The Kingston Trio, which became a passion, leading Steven to take up guitar and form The Norfolk Trio with two friends. Both in grade school and high school, I have developed lifelong friendships, whose close bonds continued regardless of time or distance. In recent years, on any given day, he would likely be found on the patio or in the den, enjoying a glass of red and chatting with a friend from Wichita, Albuquerque, Lubbock.

After graduating from the University of Oklahoma where he majored in Zoology, Steven joined the Air Force and served three years at the Lakenheath England AFB. He used his leaves to explore Europe, making friends easily: learning to make his signature dish Paella on a beach in Spain, sleeping rough in the Scottish highlands where locals taught him to play Will You Go Lassie Go, discovering the family name etched on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and taking a midnight swim in the Mediterranean, where he found himself surrounded by thousands of tiny bioluminescent fish, an experience he always described as magical. Back at base, he was assigned to escort and drive a visitor for the day. It was his birthday for him and the visitor was the actress and original Bond Girl, Ursula Andress. Some guys have all the luck, but we say Ms. Andress was the lucky one.

After returning Stateside, Steven eventually found work as a well tester for Northern Natural, later acquired by Enron. He married Jean Schartz and they had two daughters, Katie and Margo, from whom neither divorce nor time nor space nor now death could part his great love and active devotion from him. I have spent a great deal of time, effort, and sacrifice finding ways to support them and maintain connection across the thousands. After Enron shut down, he found work at the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville, even living there for a time in the old “Chick Lab”, so he could provide for his girls from him. Evenings would find him practicing guitar for the birds up on that lonely hill.

Working with kindred spirits at Sutton, Steven became an avid and expert birder, though he was modest about his skill. He kept a hand-written birding diary and added to his life list of him every chance he got. The daily visitors to his feeders and birdbath brought him great joy.

In 2004, Steven met Claudia Cochran on a blind date in Oklahoma City. Although she was in the midst of moving to Kansas City, once again distance did not deter their initial friendship and growing love. By 2008 they were ready to return to the Sooner state, but not before he had become a loyal Royals baseball fan. And of course no summary of Steven’s life would be complete without mentioning his love of him for OU Sooner sports. Football and softball were his favorites, but he followed everything and was proud when any OU player made it to a pro team.

Steven was a quiet soul, but when he spoke it was with a twinkle in his eye and wit. I have regarded his life as fortunate and blessed, never more so than in seeing his daughters married to men that he quickly thought of as sons and arrival in 2021 of a granddaughter. The highlight of each year for Steven and Claudia was when “the kids” would come for Thanksgiving and their quiet house became joyously raucous. Cousins ​​from Bartlesville would drive over and everyone would cook and visit and play music and there would be the glorious feast at brother Mike’s and more music on the deck. Everyone would raise a glass and play cards and last year there was a new baby and it was always over all too soon.

Steven’s life with us was also over all too soon. He leaves behind Claudia Cochran, of the home, daughter Katie (John Ketterhagen) Belanger, daughter Margo (Nick) Rossi, granddaughter Louisa Rossi, brother Michael Belanger and cousins ​​Bill Bollenbach and Abigail Bollenbach. He was preceded in death by his parents of him and a sister, Ann (Belanger) Durney.

A memorial service will be held at the First Unitarian Church on Saturday, July 30 at 2:00 pm, followed by a reception and jam session in Daniel Hall at the church. Memorial donations may be made to the George Mitsch Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville Oklahoma or to the charity of your choice.

Posted online on July 25, 2022

Published in The Oklahoman

Service Information

memorial service

First Unitarian Church followed by a reception and jam session in Daniel Hall at the church

July 30, 2022 at 2:00 PM

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