Active 'til the end

September 03, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." This continuing series will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Steven Ray Twigg, who died Aug. 23 at the age of 45. His obituary appeared in the Aug. 24 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Kelly Michael said she was just 2 years old in 1981 when her mother married Steven R. Twigg - the man she always would call dad.

"Besides my husband, he was my best friend," Kelly said by telephone. "Even when I lived out of town, dad and I talked often."

Steve died Aug. 23 at the age of 45 after more than 20 years battling a rare and progressive kidney disease that did not deter his efforts to enjoy life to its fullest for as long as he could.


"Just before we were married, Steve had tried to join the U.S. Air Force," said his widow, Terry Shade Twigg. "There was a problem with his physical, and he couldn't get in."

That was the first time the illness caused a change in the direction of Steve's life, she said.

Still undiagnosed, Steve trained to be a tool and die maker. But since he often was inexplicably tired, he found it hard to get a job, Terry said.

In the mid-1980s, an eye doctor in Martinsburg, W.Va., told Steve he suspected he had kidney disease because of his high blood pressure and the amount of fluid in his eyes, she said.

After the diagnosis was confirmed, "Steve went on dialysis in 1986 - he got his first kidney transplant in 1987," Terry said.

Unfortunately, that first transplant failed, as did two subsequent organ transplants, the last of which was in 2000.

But what Terry said she and her family and Steve's friends will remember isn't his disease, but how he continued to live life as fully as possible despite his limitations.

"He worked at Lowe's in Martinsburg and Hagers-town," Terry said. "Steve was a very good salesman, and he really blossomed there."

He later formed his own small security business.

"He was self-taught," Terry said. "Steve was always learning."

Active in sports of all kinds when he was in high school, Steve took a coaching class, and became head coach of the Berkeley Springs High School freshman football team and assistant coach of the varsity team.

In his "spare" time, Steve coached both of his daughters in softball - Kelly, now 27, and her older sister, Shannon Waugh, 29.

"Steve also taught himself photography, and for a while he took pictures and was a sportswriter for The Journal," Terry said. But when his eyesight began to fail, he had to give that up because he no longer could see well enough to travel.

A licensed practical nurse, Terry said she was amazed at how well Steve hid the pain he was in.

"He never complained ... even the doctors couldn't figure out if he was in pain," she said.

A week before Steve died, he and Terry renewed their vows for their 25th wedding anniversary.

"Then, I took him to Blackwater Falls," Terry said.

The last few days he spent at home with his family.

Sitting in her living room a few days after the services, Terry said Steve had no regrets.

"He became a Christian in 1990," she said. "He told me he was ready to go."

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