Obituary for Charles Stephen Gaddy

Charles Stephen (Steve) Gaddy died unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep during the night of October 7-8, 2022, having successfully completed all but the final leg of the five-day, 350-mile North Carolina Mountains To Coast bicycle ride. 

Steve’s family and the countless friends he’d made in his 74 years will remember him as one of the kindest, gentlest, and most helpful human beings they ever knew. They will miss him dearly, but they will be consoled in knowing that in his final days and hours, Steve was as happy as he’d ever been, and that he passed without suffering. An old family friend said it well upon hearing the news: “My heart hurts about sweet Steve. He was such a sweetheart, so humble and kind. God knows what a good man Steve was. So he took him easy in his sleep.”

Steve was born on January 28, 1948, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, son of the late Dr. Clifford G. Gaddy, Sr. and Inez Chapman Gaddy. Steve lost both his parents and his youngest brother, Bob, within a span of some ten months in 2016-2017. He is survived by his former wife, Beth Putney Gaddy, and their three daughters and their husbands, Heather Lycans (Jason), Erin Meinhardt (Kurt), and Anne Marie Kriesel (John) and his grandchildren Lucy, William, Ari, Cooper and Charlie; his brothers and their spouses, Clifford, Jr. (Kerstin) and Gary (Sandra), and sisters Betty Witman (Bill) and Janet Gaddy (Tim Moran), and sister-in-law Evelyn Gaddy; and nieces and nephews Benjamin, Kristina, Thomas, Johanan, Matthew, Carson, Austin, Carolyn, Emma, William, John, Jeremy and Jodi. Nephew Jason Lea died in December 2020. 

Steve grew up in Danville, Virginia, where he attended public schools from first grade until graduation from George Washington High School in 1966. He earned a B.A. from Wake Forest University in 1970 and graduate degrees from William and Mary College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Official death certificates require the next of kin to choose a single entry for the category of “Occupation of the deceased.” That is not always a simple task for many people, but impossible in Steve’s case. Always looking for new challenges and experiences, Steve sought them out in the most diverse occupations imaginable. At various points in his life, he worked in a rock quarry and a cotton mill, as a financial planner, golf greenskeeper, computer consultant, realtor, retirement home owner/manager, and many more. But the only occupational title he himself might truly have identified with was that of teacher. He taught at all levels at various times in his life, from elementary school as a young man to adult continuing education courses in later years. No matter what the level or the subject, for so many of his students Steve was remembered as someone who changed their life. He was that teacher who believed in them and pushed them to reach goals they didn’t think they could attain. Even beyond the classroom, Steve saw his role in life as teacher in the broadest sense. He was an advisor, coach, and mentor to countless people who are already feeling the deep hole left behind. 

Steve was a man of many and shifting interests – “passions” is a better word, since his enthusiasm was boundless. Whether it was in his lifelong love of classic cars or golf or more recent pursuits such as biking or pickleball, friends also knew that it was not so much about what he was doing as who he was doing it with. Steve simply enjoyed the company of people who shared his passions.

Steve was justifiably proud of the three daughters he and Beth raised. He took great pains to maintain and build traditions in their families similar to what he had experienced himself growing up. One of the delights of his last years was having all three daughters, his sons-in-law, and his five grandchildren close to him and each other geographically. To them he was the adored dad and granddad (or, “Papa Steve,” as he preferred), just as he was the wonderful brother to his siblings and great friend to so many others. For all of them, he was the person you could count on to provide help, in things great and small, whenever they needed. And when he did offer that help, he made you feel like the most important person in the world. Until the end, Steve truly strived to follow the words of the old gospel song, “A Beautiful Life”:

Each day I’ll do a golden deed

By helping those who are in need

My life on earth is but a span

And so I’ll do the best I can

While going down life’s weary road

I’ll try to lift some traveler’s load

I’ll try to turn the night to day

Make flowers bloom along the way

In lieu of flowers, Steve’s family suggests memorial contributions to the Gwynn Valley Campership Foundation,

A celebration of life service will be held for Steve at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities, 555 E. Connecticut Avenue, Southern Pines, on Sunday, November 13, 2022, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Online condolences may be made at

Services are entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.

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