December 17, 2007

Sunol has been in the news quite a bit this past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it is because one of our own is missing. Stephan Doyle, a good friend and very important person in the community, disappeared from his place of business in Hayward on November 30. He had just received a brand new car which was still parked outside and his beloved dogs were just where he left them.

Stephan is big-hearted man. He is always there to help out; in fact, the last time I saw him was six days earlier. After picking up the Little Brown Church’s new water fountain in Half Moon Bay, I realized that we needed some serious muscle to get the heaviest pieces of concrete out of the back of the truck. I knew I could call on Stephan because not only did he live just up Kilkare Road, he is always available to help. Sure enough, he pulled up in front of the church just as we were arriving with the fountain.

Creative and unique is his style and Stephan has a knack for decorating in a most unusual yet beautiful way. A couple of years ago I wrote in this column about a Sunol Community Club spring garden silent auction and wine tasting event. Stephan was commissioned to help decorate and in keeping with the outdoor setting created the most beautifully decorated port-a-pottie I had ever seen.

Stephan loves children and they have always loved him back. Children gravitate to him like moths to a light. While camping last summer with the Little Brown Church near Capitola, Stephan was a huge hit with the kids when he produced dozens of glow sticks and glow jewelry. He captivated the children when he stuck a whole chicken on the end of a big stick and cooked it over an open camp fire. He was there to help out with every tent, sleeping bag and ice chest.

And he was awestruck when after Sunday services at the campsite an announcement was made asking for more volunteer Sunday school teachers and I nominated Stephan. Fully prepared to hear a resounding “No”, I looked him in the eyes and saw a glimmer of “Maybe”. He had never taught Sunday school before but his love for children has always been apparent and we knew he would succeed. After the fireside service I took him aside and said, “So, did you ever think you would be a Sunday school teacher?” and although apprehensive, he had a big grin on his face and you could tell he felt honored.

Several weeks later Stephan called me asking questions about what type of craft project he might lead the following Sunday. Knowing he had a knack for extravagance, I told him to keep it simple, they were just of elementary school age. I arrived early the following Sunday to see what he was planning for the children and he told me his first idea of magnificent golden pyramids flopped when he tested it at home so he stayed up all night planning the current craft project of Styrofoam tablets bearing the ten commandments. He was nervous that first Sunday but the children adored him and looked forward to seeing him over the next couple of weeks. He later told me that he had asked his mother to sit down before telling her on the phone that he was teaching Sunday school and I’m sure she was just as proud of him as we were.

Stephan was to begin teaching Sunday school for the entire month of December and church members were alarmed when he did not show up on the 2nd because he is very reliable. Church leaders formed a prayer vigil at the Sunol Community Park on December 9 that was attended by dozens of Sunolians and the television news media. Stephan touched many lives and we are praying for his safe return. Besides, the little kids at the Little Brown Church really miss him too.

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