With thousands of crucial yet everyday people comprising the Utah Valley community, the Daily Herald would like to further highlight and share the real stories and impact of those who have recently departed. “A Bit More of the Story” reflects those efforts and remembers those lives.
Steve Kappas, 67, had become a regular part of Art City Days by the time he died celebrating in it June 8.
Before he died of a heart attack during the Art City Days parade, he was known as an active member of the Springville High School Alumni Association. He’d sold Red Devil T-shirts at the Art City Days Festival with his wife, Julie, for almost 20 years and was a judge on their scholarship committee, shaping the future of Springville’s youth.
“He never got tired. He’d spend lots of time on those applications,” his wife said, who is also on the committee.
The association, originally formed in the early 2000s to deal with a mascot dispute, provides scholarships for Springville youth who have exemplified citizenship through community service. Julie Kappas said he’d notice candidates others might have glossed over in a rush to get done, making the difference for someone who really needed the additional support.
Besides serving in the alumni association, Steve Kappas was on Springville’s parks and recreation volunteer board, which makes sure the city’s impact fee is being spent the way it should and through which he’d find opportunities to work the grounds. His children — Clay, Bryan, Scott and Jennie were often put to work on the grounds as well. Julie Kappas remembers having to go find him in a park to let him know their daughter had gotten engaged.
The Kappases moved to Springville just after being married. He’d grown up in Mapleton, raised by his grandparents and his aunt, Stella. He was a bit wild in his youth, but his father-in-law was appeased when his Sunday school teacher — Julie’s older sister, Shirley — assured him he was a good kid.
After some years in construction and racecar driving, he joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union, and worked for local companies such as W.W. Clyde and Geneva Rock. Julie Kappas said he knew he had to join a union to support a family and the work was often fun, transporting movie and television sets across the state or country.
“He was just a really good man,” Julie Kappas said. “He sent three boys on missions and sent three to college.”
Rachel Kappas, Bryan’s wife, said Steve Kappas and his wife were soulmates who did everything together. In addition to having four children and 11 grandchildren, they served on the committees, camped often and enjoyed the perks to his work, like meeting celebrities.
“He never got starstruck,” Jennie said. Julie Kappas remembers he turned down an offer to be Johnny Depp’s driver and really liked Robert Duvall. “(To him) they were just people,” Jennie said.
His work sometimes brought the movies home — Stephen King’s motor home was in their driveway for awhile during “The Stand,” and sometimes it brought the family to more of the world. His grandchildren had a field day on the “Andi Mack” set in Magna last summer.
More than treating stars like regular people, Steve Kappas will be remembered for treating regular people like they mattered, whether it’s the almost overlooked scholarship recipient, someone he coached in little league or a member of the Two Jacks Sinclair “church,” a coffee group he attended every morning.
“He made friends with everybody,” Bryan said.
Those wishing to help the family can donate to https://www.gofundme.com/steve-kappas-memorial. In addition to the service, the family hopes to memorialize Kappas with a scholarship and hopefully a sculpture by Gary Price.