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Stephen Achen
June 24, 1963 - August 5, 2000

Stephen Morton Achen, 37, tragically took his own life on August 5, 2000 after a long battle with depression and drug addiction.  He is survived by his mother Barbara, his father Norman and stepmother Gail, sisters Barbara and Jane, and wife Talitha.

Steve attended the Desert Sun School in 1978 and 1979, his freshman and sophomore years.  After high school he attended junior college.  Steve worked as a waiter and manager for several top-notch restaurants, including McKormick Kuletos in San Francisco , P.F. Chang's China Bistro in La Jolla, and Ocotillo in Montecito.

Steve and his Brazilian-born wife Talitha where married for six years.  They share the same birth date, June 24.  They lived in Santa Barbara, La Jolla and San Francisco before their separation one year prior to Steve's death.  Talitha recently wrote of how they met:

"Stephen played volleyball and body surfed at a beach in Santa Barbara.  I went there with my Brazilian girlfriends, and he thought we were French and beautiful.  He never approached me.  About six months later, I went to work at Cafe Buenos Aires where Stephen worked.  He actually trained me.  Stephen began to notice that I was the girl on the beach, when I did certain gestures or was adding something on the calculator.  He told the owner that he used to watch me on the beach.  The amazing thing was that he remembered the color of my bikini, the magazine I was reading, my gestures, body language and expressions.  We had a great attraction."

Steve loved writing and the Arts.  He dreamed of being a sports writer.  He was passionate about sports, history, politics and literature.  He loved nature and animals immensely.  He had incredible athleticism and loved physicality.  And he had a great sense of humor.  He brought much light and laughter to his friends and family.

Below are transcripts of two of Steve's writings.  The first is a poem written in 1994 for his wife, Talitha.  The second is a partial essay written in the year 2000 two weeks prior to his death.  It describes his personal battle against drugs.  (Sadly, the first page of this essay was never found by family members and remains missing).

Messages of condolence to the family may be sent to Steve's sister Barbara Gabriel in San Francisco.  You can also download Stephen's eulogy (.doc format) as given by Barbara Gabriel at his memorial service in San Francisco on August 16, 2000.

Reporter Stephen James of the Sacramento News & Review wrote an article in June of 2003 entitled, "A Preventable Death" concerning Stephen Achen's tragic death an the family's legal battle for justice and change.

~ My Eyes Have Seen ~

A world so breathtaking
When heart and eyes
See clearly.
Time has allowed me to see...
Smoldering yellow, purple
Laying low in island skies,
Wheat grass fields
Bending harmonious to God's breath.
Sliced moon, quiet and steady,
Huge white in a periwinkle twilight.
I have looked closely upon
The tender, snow white petal
Of Gardenia
Countless roses, and
Snowball mums.
I have held my hands firm
And flat
Against the solid granite walls of Half Dome,
And looked skyward
To feel His presence.
My eyes have been misted by Angel Falls,
And from high above I've looked upon
Deep green forests that push up -
Then down -
The contours of majestic Mount Baldy.
Alone, I've stood in cool
Desert nights -
The stars so bright and close
That each one winks
Their fondness,
Of me.
I have looked into the crystal
Blue eyes of a baby boy,
And seen the turquoise waters of the little Colorado,
Burnt orange canyon walls
Towering up each side,
The sky at their peaks
More blue.
In galleries I've gazed at Monet's short
Stroke genius, Rembrandt's fields, and
The exquisite bouquets of Van Gogh's
Last spring.
I've seen showers bring colors anew
To lazy summer days,
Then garnish with a rainbow.
I've seen rows of cherry tree blossoms
Fall like snow
To the greener grass and tulips
I've seen sunrise and daybreak's both bright
And fair
Many, upon many, days of my being.
But more -
I've seen the light sparkle in the chocolate eyes
Of a Brazilian girl,
So intense
It drew me into the heart below.
Blessed are the eyes that fall on
True beauty.
Never, Talitha, have I seen anything,
I love you

Stephen M. Achen
Copyright © 1994

~ I Gave You... Everything ~

I gave you my special gift -- the one the teachers all spoke of, the one that needed to be nurtured and worked on to develop to it's full potential.

I gave you my athletic promise,
I gave you my lungs, my legs, my ability to play with a team.

I gave you my relationship with my father...
with my family...
I gave you my mother's hope.

I gave you time - day after day after month after year after year.

I gave you my license, my credit, my sayings, my taxes, my credibility and countless jobs and excellent references.

I did time in jail for you. I went to court for you, I paid restitution and lied for you

I gave up my values for you, my morals for you, my dignity, integrity, my better judgment for you.

I gave you my body and you used it in ways I'd rather you hadn't. I've given you my spirit, my light and many many realms of my soul.

I gave you my wedding, my honeymoon, my chance at having children.

I gave you countless objects to keep you.  Leather coats, bicycles, clothes, jewelry, autos, walkmans, sunglasses and now I remember that umbrella I gave away and I remember the rain waking me within minutes.

I gave you my liver twelve years ago.  Slowly I gave you my teeth, my intestines, my skin.

I've given you the incredible opportunities I had at sobriety... and the many good, and loving friends that came with those opportunities.

I gave you the best job I've ever had, just last week it was gone.

All this was not enough. You wanted more and the past few months I've given you the most I ever had.

I gave you my freedom -- the freedom that comes with age, wisdom and acceptance of who one really is.

And finally I've given you my health and my life.

I don't know what else I have to lose to you.  Something I've learned about you is if there is something you'll think of it first and I'll wake up and it too will be gone.

This is what frightens me the most.


Stephen M. Achen
Copyright © 2000

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Last Updated: 12/11/03