Another friend and former colleague gone too soon — one of the *really* good guys

A few hours ago, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram family — which I’ll always be a part of after working there from April 1987 to February 2000 — received devastating news about the passing of one of the kindest, most easygoing, funny, professional and skilled friends and colleagues we’ve ever had the privilege of working with. Stephen Schroats, who’d just turned 61 in September, died of a massive heart attack Sunday.

Our friend and former colleague John Henry shared this note via Messenger with several of us after getting the news from Steve’s distraught wife, Saskia:

“It is with great sadness that I pass along the news of the passing of our friend and colleague, Stephen Schroats, who died yesterday. Saskia called about 20 minutes ago with the news. She said he had spent the entire day outdoors, his last stop a field where he was flagging balls in the outfield for a father pitching with his son. It was there that he collapsed … a massive heart attack the suspect. Saskia understandably is devastated.”

As John commented about Steve on our Star-Telegram Friends Facebook group earlier tonight after I posted the shocking news there, “That he took the time to help facilitate a ‘moment’ between a father and son, complete strangers, I think, is all you need to know about the guy. A dear human being.”

Steve with Janneke, the oldest of his two daughters, in the early 1990s.

Steve, nicknamed “Schroatsie,” was an editor/designer in the S-T Sports department for over 25 years. In an intense business where there’s never a stress-free day and the pressure to achieve accuracy, write great stories, break news and hit deadlines can make even the most laid-back get flustered, Steve always kept his cool. He was always upbeat, always calm, always handling situations with restraint and respect for his colleagues, whether writers or fellow members of the copy desk on the S-T‘s award-winning sports staff.

I always felt like Steve’s calm and calming demeanor was one of several on the sports desk that helped keep us all from losing our heads when things got crazy — which, for a major metropolitan newspaper’s sports staff, happens on a nightly basis. The common refrain is that in newspaper sports departments, “Every night is election night.”

Steve and his wife, Saskia, this past summer at Inks Lake State Park, in a photo shared by their friend Glenda French on Facebook.

I haven’t had a lot of contact with Steve in the 20-plus years since I left the S-T for The Dallas Morning News, but we’ve seen each other a handful of times and have exchanged some FB messages and post comments. A few months after being a victim of one of the S-T‘s numerous rounds of layoffs a couple of years ago, Steve took a job designing pages at the Killeen Daily Herald in Central Texas, staying there during the week and driving home to Granbury on weekends.

But Steve told me when I wished him a happy birthday in September that he was now retired and spending time traveling with Saskia in their RV. They have two beautiful grown daughters and I believe one grandchild. Steve was so very proud of his family. They bought their home on Lake Granbury years ago and have cherished living there.

Here’s another photo of Steve with his oldest, Janneke.

Steve and I should’ve known each other years before he arrived at the S-T in the early ’90s — and we may have actually talked on the phone a few times but didn’t realize it. When he was a sports writer in Hobbs, N.M., in the mid-’80s, I was a sports writer in my first job at The Odessa American. The two staffs always exchanged scores and stats, but I never knew Steve — I only knew one of his colleagues. Steve and I only figured out later after he got to the S-T that we’d been at those papers 90 miles apart at the same time.

Steve’s tragic passing is yet another heartbreaking example of why it’s so important to love one another — and show it — every day and make every moment count. 

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