Frederick C. Stepanich, internationally renowned civil engineer, passed away on April 27, 2020, at his home in Manila, Philippines at the age of 88.
He was the son of Joseph and Agnes (Sustar) Stepanich of Neodesha, Kansas. Born on August 4, 1931 in this southeast Kansas town, he was the last of nine children. Fred would tell you that he was fortunate to grow up on a farm and attend school in his early years at Brooks country school just a quarter mile from the farm where he was raised. Fred graduated in 1949 from Neodesha High School where he excelled in football. After graduation, he joined the Kansas/U.S. National Guard where he served until January 4, 1951. He then served his country in the United States Navy. Fred said he fell for the Navy’s pitch of “Join the Navy and see the World!” So of course, he was assigned to a ship anchored in Miami where his “see the world” consisted of a monthly trip out to sea of about 100 miles and back to Miami. Following four years of military service, he received his Honorable Discharge as a Machinery Repairman First Class on October 28, 1954. Thanks to the GI Bill he was able achieve one of his dreams to attend the University of Notre Dame. While attending college there, he once strolled, unknowingly, into a cafeteria on campus where it looked like they had some pretty good food and decided to give it a try. As he was eating, he discovered that all the other guys there looked pretty big and fit and realized he’d wondered into the training table for the Irish Football team. One of the burly fellows finally came up to Fred and asked “What position do you play?” Fred, sheepishly said, “Kicker.” He then quickly finished his meal and left. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Cum Laude, in 1959 with a degree in civil engineering. "Go Irish!" He followed that up by earning a master's degree from Colorado State University also in civil engineering. He then began an extended career overseas as a water resources development engineer working in more than 18 different countries while visiting another 25, most of them in Asia. During this period, he had the opportunity many times to visit his parent's homeland of Slovenia. Manila later became his base of operation where he worked until his retirement in 1996 and until his death. Fred would tell you that one of the grandest moments in his life was not only personally meeting Mother Teresa in Calcutta but also attending a private Catholic Mass with her as well.
Fred is survived by one brother, John, of Lenexa, Kansas. He was preceded in death by four brothers, Father Martin, Joe, Henry, and Ed, and by three sisters, Sister M. Susanne, Anne Winchell, and Mary Cancelor. A memorial service was held in Manila per Fred’s instructions. Funeral and memorial services in Neodesha are pending awaiting his transmission to the United States and restrictions imposed by the current pandemic.
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