In Honor and Memory of Fr. Steve Kuder, SJ
Long before his ordination into the Society of Jesus, Fr. Steve Kuder was the eldest of seven children growing up together in a small house in Spokane, Washington. On his third birthday, his parents brought home a baby sister named Marguerite. Year after year, they’d celebrate birthdays together building a bond that would last a lifetime. They were part of a family that kept very close over the years, which is why when the beloved Jesuit and Gonzaga University professor passed away at the age of 79 in 2021 after a hard-fought battle with cancer, Marguerite and the rest of Fr. Kuder’s family sought out a special way to honor his memory.
“Students aren’t going to have the advantage of having him as a teacher anymore,” she said, “but this scholarship will help them to get a sense of who he was, what he brought to the classroom, and how he embodied the concepts of joy, family, friendship and compassion—he just touched so many lives.”
As a way of extending her brother’s legacy, Marguerite and the Kuder family established The Fr. Steve Kuder, SJ, Endowed Scholarship to help students with financial need cover the costs of their Gonzaga education. Because of his love of teaching in and impact on religious studies at Gonzaga, the family hopes that someday the scholarship named in Steve’s honor could reach a level at which it can begin to award specifically to students pursuing degrees in religious studies.
“Religious studies was his focus in recent years,” said Marguerite, “and several people contacted me after his vigil and funeral wanting to honor him—it feels like this will keep him with us in some way.”
Marguerite connected with the desire to keep her brother’s memory thriving. Her memories of and stories about him were always punctuated with a smile.
“He would be up at Schweitzer Mountain every Saturday and people would tell me how wild and crazy he was,” she recalled. “A childhood friend told me the ski patrol used to stop him and ask, ‘could you catch up to him and tell him to slow down?’” But his favorite Saturday
tradition there was the four o’clock Mass he presided at in the resort chapel.
Gonzaga students who were lucky enough to have Fr. Kuder as a professor or through the Honors program experienced his unique brand of care and humor, too. Marguerite explained that he would often kick-off a semester by asking the class to appoint a “designated whiner,” who would be the only one allowed to complain about the homework or papers on behalf of the entire class all semester. His students knew he cared about them because he would often call a student from the classroom to ask if they were okay since they hadn’t made it to class. If they were fine but just hadn’t made it, he’d remind them to bring cookies or cupcakes to the next class.
“Steve never took himself too seriously,” said Marguerite, “but one thing he was very serious about was advocating for the students. When he was on the Board of Trustees, no matter the topic, Steve was sure to ask if it was what was best for the students.”