With your last breath,
You welcomed death,
I held your hand and kissed your brow,
My love immense as it is now,
You did not die alone,
as you had projected,
Love was shone,
and you were protected,
Your memory is honored and true,
By those who truly knew you.
Stevan Noxon: father; papa; friend; trial attorney; intellectual; astronomy enthusiast; chess player and teacher; brother and son; husband and lover; adventure enthusiast; human birth March 9, 1946 and now stardust, July 15, 2020.
Born and raised in California, spending his childhood in Fresno. The son of two professionals, Sofija and Arthur and the youngest boy of three. He graduated from Roosevelt High School at 17 and sought out independence in the bay area.
In the 1960’s he proudly avoided the draft by getting braces and attended college at UC Berkeley majoring in political science followed by law school at UC Hastings, where his third-year finals were canceled because of the Kent State Shootings. He made lifelong friends during his college days, and he would spend his latter years recounting their shenanigans to anyone who would listen. The old gang would get together every so often to seek adventure on days long trips always in some mountain range in California accompanied by illicit drugs and alcohol and inevitably they would create more stories to be told.
At the young and immature age of 23, Stevan started his legal career as a prosecutor in Fresno. He would often joke that law school taught him nothing about the practice of law, so much so that when he first interviewed for the job, he did not know what a prosecutor was. But he picked up quickly and was leading the homicide team at the age of 27, building his legacy as a “brilliant trial attorney.” Now, I put that in quotes, because I never had the privilege of watching him perform, but every lawyer/judge/court reporter/bailiff/witness/even juror I have had the opportunity to cross paths with has told me that. He truly loved being a trial attorney.
Stevan was a lawyer for 22 years. He was one of the first Certified Criminal Law Specialists in Fresno and the better half of his career he practiced defense in the federal and state courts (this is my opinion, as I am a criminal defense attorney), even writing and arguing his own appeals in front of the Fifth District and Ninth Circuit. He is responsible for creating case law expanding protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in People v. Ingham (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 326. He even had a not guilty verdict form signed by all 12 jurors which he proudly framed and hung on his wall.
A trial lawyer is a very stressful job and for a man that was friendly with substances, the comfort of such was needed often and ultimately led to the end of his prosperous career. There is no pretty picture to paint that chapter of his life, and I refuse to do so. For this was a chapter that I witnessed, and it greatly impacted me and shaped my life profoundly. You see, Stevan was not one for regrets, his was a life of experience. All regrets to an average man were teaching moments for this wise soul. As a father he never held back or sugar coated his mistakes, but rather he always told me, “Other dads tell you what not to do, I have shown you,” as though each mistake was done for my benefit to learn from.
His only regret in life he expressed in his last few years: the tragedies beyond his control, the departures of his 17-year-old son Stephen Reid-Noxon, who died in a car accident one week after graduating high school and the suicide of his wife Darci Cremer, two and a half years later.
Stevan met Darci while in law school, she was one of only three females in the school. They were introduced through a close friend, Doug Van Vlear and stayed up all night talking in Stevan’s car and they both would later express that it was love at first sight, but they were married to other people and they went their separate ways, however she left her blazer behind. He had it dry cleaned, hung it in his office, and waited for the opportunity to return it to her. Years later, both divorced and lawyers living in Fresno they would cross paths and he would return it.
Stevan took over the parenting in the absence of Darci, raising his two daughters, Sheri Noxon and Sally Noxon Vecchiarelli. He cared for his mother in the last decade of her life and was there until her dying day. In 2008, he almost died from gastrointestinal complications and spent two weeks in the intensive care unit only to come out a new man, sober. Later that year he embarked on his greatest role, as grandfather to Syrus. With sobriety he had a new lease on life, the lightest chapter had begun.
Stevan enjoyed the next 12 years of life: exploring intellectual curiosities from reading countless books about astronomy to atheism; gaining a sharply dry witted sense of humor thanks to his son-in-law Justin who granted him the freedom to joke and laugh about inappropriate nonsense; cooking chili and collecting cook books; discussing politics and the law with his daughters as they earned their education, Sheri attending UC Berkeley majoring in political science as he did and Sally becoming a criminal defense attorney (he never missed a daily phone call to discuss my cases); the tv was continually on airing either CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News (Stevan did not discriminate about the source of his political news); he would occasionally binge watch a tv show, like the Shield and Sopranos, each completed within a week (we are not sure if he slept during those periods); babysitting his grandchildren, with the addition of Scarlet in 2012, teaching Syrus how to play chess and fish and letting the kids eat as much sugar as they saw fit; sitting in the sun for hours like a lizard and going for walks with his dogs and dearest companions Bear, King and Kong.
His favorite moments were spent with family, the best of which when his older brothers were present as well. A year before he died, his brother Ward passed, leaving an aching hole in his heart. The last couple of years he found himself perusing obituaries and attending memorials, an unfortunate aspect of growing old. He was adamant that he did not want a memorial, no burial, no casket, that was all unnecessary hoopla and cost too much, I forgot to mention that he became very frugal in his old age. Thus, the obituary was the only memorial he sought, and he wanted to be placed in a box on the shelf. The box was arranged right away, a beautiful carved wooden box depicting the trees and mountains he would adventure to.
The obituary was the hard task. Drafts were written, but never published. His life was momentous, and these basic words could not summarize the mark he left on our lives. Yet here I tried to summarize him for those that knew him and happen to still be alive, for they may Google his name and they deserve to know that he lived his life full. A candle burning at both ends and yet he defied all odds and made it to the ripe old age of 74, with family and friends that love him dearly and think of him every day. As his daughter, I can say that he taught me- what to do and most importantly what not to do, a gift that very few can knowingly give.
Published by Legacy Remembers on Jul. 15, 2022.