Steven Phillip Shears

Age 53 , California

At the age of 51, we met and immediately fell in love. Both California natives, we lived 250 miles apart but made the drive 3 or more times a month. Steven was a commercial fisherman all his life. Had been a skipper for years on a trawler out of Humboldt Bay, but also worked out of Half Moon Bay and San Francisco during his career. He was a beloved and charismatic figure in Humboldt County recovery rooms having practiced 12-step recovery for nearly 25 years of sobriety in AA and Al-Anon. He was deeply spiritual and relied on the river as a representation of his higher power.
The Federal Government re-trained him to drive a truck when the fishing industry was reduced drastically. Later, he became increasingly ill with chronic Lyme disease and depression. He was denied insurance coverage for the Lyme, denied California disability insurance and had used up his retirement account on treatments and survival.
Unbeknownst to me, he had gotten a gun to protect his family sometime earlier. Having been taught to hunt as a young person in the country growing up, he knew how to use a gun. He also knew how to get one.
He visited me for the weekend of December 19, 2011 but refused to stay on for Christmas or move in with me. After driving back to Eureka he said good-bye to his best friend, then went to the banks of the Eel river, at Swimmer’s Delight swimming hole on December 22, 2011, and he shot himself in the head. December 22 is my daughter’s birthday. It was 3 weeks after Steven’s 53rd birthday.
I received a text from the Humboldt County coroner the next day and drove immediately to the spot where he had died. A large stone had been split down the middle by the shot. Bears had been at work cleaning up the place where he died. Bear footprints were around the spot. I still haven’t recovered from the shock 4 years later. What a loss. He left his Son, E., age 18 and Daughter J. age 20.
Bless their hearts.

Suki GravesSteven Phillip Shears

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