Celebrating Steve

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”
(Isaiah 26:3-4)


Photo credit: Brad Orsted

Updated 3/23/15:

 “I’m so happy that daddy died with a smile on his face.”
– Shane Bierle, after seeing his daddy in the casket (Age 8)

Our deepest thanks to each and every person who played a role this past week in supporting all of us in Steve’s family.  From first responders and volunteers at Shelter Cove, the community of Gardiner for the outpouring of love, food, housing, rides, hugs, and conversation, friends who traveled long distances to stand with us in the pain, and to the friends and family across the WORLD praying for our family, we are humbled by the outpouring of support.  Your presence, whether physical or not, was felt, heard, and appreciated beyond what we can ever convey in words.

Yesterday, as expected, was packed full of God-moments and glimpses of God’s hand comforting and caring for us.  From worshiping in the morning shoulder to shoulder with family and fellow believers at Steve and Sandy’s church to the afternoon celebration of Steve’s life, the day was touched with tears, but filled with the message of hope and salvation through Christ.

Pastor Lance (Steve and Sandy’s pastor from Sioux Falls) blessed us with sharing how Steve loved and embraced the moments in life and the people that he encountered. We truly have the hope of being reunited with him again in Paradise if we surrender our lives to Christ, just as Steve had.

Don (Steve’s dad) spoke how Steve, at age four, wept upon hearing of the sacrifice of Aslan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and became broken when he learned of how Jesus had done the same for him.  That transforming moment drew Steve to Christ, and he later recommitted himself to Jesus around age 12.  When questioning why God did not send his angels to intervene or God himself stop the waves from coming and thus save his son, God has been faithfully whispering to Don, “I have saved your son.”
Brad (Steve’s brother) shared about a memory last summer where Steve’s family, Brad, Joshua, Don and Vernee were together in Montana celebrating the anniversary of their parents.   Brad laughed at how he was a bit of a money pincher so he shared a look with his son, Josh, as they were ordering because they weren’t quite sure who was picking up the bill.  Both proceeded, in sync with their personality, to order a medium range entree to keep the cost down.  But, Steve, living in the moment, ordered a steak without batting an eyelash.  Brad continued to help us see that sometimes you just need to grasp hold of life and “order the steak”, not to be frivolous, but to capture the moments that God has given us as glimpses of Him and celebrate those minutes.  He reiterated that Steve’s personality was possible because of the overflowing of Christ in him, putting into practice Jesus’s words from John 10:10b  “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Wendy (Steve and Sandy’s friend from Gardiner) showed us Steve’s fun personality side and how he was game for anything.  Ultimately, though, she shared about his intense love for his family, and joy of spending time with his kids.
Pastor Kirk (Our pastor from our home church in Sioux Falls) closed with special words of comfort, and how the deep depth of tears is directly proportionate to the love that was lost, and ultimately, a life well lived.
John Pollman (One of Steve’s special hunting buddies) sang How Great Thou Art and led us in Amazing Grace, accompanied by a very talented pianist, whose name unfortunately I do not know.
Reverend R. William Young officiated the lovely memorial service held in the Gardiner High School Gymnasium that was followed by a fellowship time with many special treats prepared by the wonderful Gardiner community.

A special thank you to the Franzen-Davis Funeral Home for handling the arrangements of Steve’s memorial service, all the beautiful flowers and plants sent from those far and near, the Gardiner High School, and all the people in the background who don’t ask for anything but that we feel the love they are sharing.

We will be in Gardiner for the next few days to spend some time together as a family.  As we all seek to begin what will become our “new normal”, we are trusting wholeheartedly in the promises from the One who knows our every sorrow, our every pain, but has the victory of sin and death!  Again, we extend our deepest thanks to all of you for continuing to uphold and care for us.

Previously posted information:

Donations:  The family has received many requests as to how individuals can assist Sandy and her family financially.  Two options are now available:

Sandy’s sister-in-law, Karen Otte, and the Gardiner, MT, community have joined together to set up this site for online donations.

Additionally, donations can be mailed or dropped off directly to:
Steve Bierle Family Fund
c/o First Interstate Bank
Box 810
Gardiner, MT 59030

If your heart is leading you to give in this way, our deepest thanks on behalf of Sandy and her family.


Sandy Bierle (Drew, Ben, and Shane)
Box 903
Gardiner, MT 59030

Don and Vernee Bierle
27022 Rolling Thunder Lane
Sioux Falls, SD 57108

Brad and Sarah Bierle (Joshua, Jacob, Tessa)
2000 South Sycamore Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57110
**Please note, we will receive this mail when we return home in early summer

Brad and Sarah Bierle
c/o Alliance Academy International
Juan Jose Villalengua 789
Quito Canton 17-11-06186
**please note, mail to Ecuador arrives in approximately 3 to 5 weeks

Media Coverage:

Comprehensive story of Steve’s life – Argus Leader

Remembering Steve Bierle – ABC Fox Montana

NBC news story – read it here.

CBS News feature about Steve, please click here.

ABC Fox Montana story is featured here.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, encouragements, and memories of Steve in the comments.548403_3783153625304_1184995304_n

Steve will be greatly missed but we are thankful to know that he is safe at home in the arms of his Savior.

Held tightly in the arms of our Savior,

The Bierle family


38 thoughts on “Celebrating Steve

  1. Barbara Lambrecht

    Dearest Bierle Family,

    I didn’t know Steven, but the story touched my heart so much, I just had to leave a message. My sincerest condolences for your loss. “Rest on the Rock!” How truly poignant and beautiful. God bless you and keep you in His Loving arms always. Steven is with his Loving Father! Thank you for letting me share this with you. Many, many blessings Sarah and your entire family!


  2. Craig & Kristi Wanamaker

    Our love and prayers are with all of you during this difficult time. Know that all of you are being upheld in prayer. May each of you feel the arms of Jesus around you.

  3. J

    I am a stranger living in Massachusetts. I just read this story. I am truly so sad for your loss. I wish that you will all be okay, and that the love of family and friends will help heal your hearts. Please
    Let your son know that his father did what he had to do and that a part of him will live on in all of you. I wish I could do more.

  4. Fred & Margie Bills

    Dear Bierle Family, our hearts were broken upon hearing the news. Only God has the power to heal the pain your family is feeling at this time. We are praying that the Lord will supply all that you need to sustain you through the difficult days ahead. We pray that Jesus will care for and protect Sandy, Drew, Ben, and Shane now and in the days, months, and years ahead.

  5. Betty Joens

    In tears, I am praying and trusting Jesus to surround all of you with His comfort, strength, and peace. Just can’t find the right words, except from HIS Word: (Philippians 4:7) “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Love in Him, Betty Jones

  6. Larry and Alice Balmer

    Dear Bierle Family,
    Larry and I just heard about your great loss. We are so sorry. It’s hard to express our thoughts. We are praying our loving God will hold you close during these difficult days. Love and Prayers,
    Alice and Larry Balmer

  7. Howard and Marjory Coker

    Brad and Sarah, we want you to know that our heartbreak over the loss of Steve mingles with yours and our thoughts and prayers are with you. At the same time we are touched and humbled by Steve’s selfless action in protecting his son. So many great memories of our family sharing time and experiences with you, Brad, and “Little Steve” and your parents—our friendship with your family is a lasting treasure.

  8. terri

    I met Steve as a freshman at South Dakota State the first night we moved in. He lived on my floor at Young hall. My friend Tiffany and his friend Jimbo were inseparable that year. He even dropped us off in Raymond on weekends when he went home to Watertown.
    After college we kept in touch going to Twins games, playing minigolf and just laughing and feeling the pain together cheering for our beloved Vikings. While in Montana and I in graduate school in Washington. He and a couple friends made the trip and we took Seattle and Central by storm! My last picture with him was us on the Space Needle. I also got to see Missoula through him on my way back to MN. We use to laugh and joke about his skunks he researched in Missoula…

    1. terri

      The rest of my post did not fit but stated how much I hope the Bierle family finds peace and solace in knowing Steve is one of the best in this world and heaven received an absolute angel this weekend.

  9. Greg Jasmer

    Bierle Family, Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. We will keep you so close to our hearts and pray constantly during this time of sadness. God bless you and your family and give you strength during this difficult time. Sincerely, Greg Jasmer

  10. Amy

    I am so sorry for your loss. Our son was washed out to sea from an Oregon beach on 12/16/14, so we understand a little. I prayed for your boy who was saved, that he never feels guilt for the love that his dad showed him by helping him to safety. God bless each of you, and may He bring you comfort and peace.

  11. Melissa and all

    We’re praying moment by moment every day for each of you. Sandy was a friend to me when they lived near SF. We will look forward to sharing hugs in person this summer, but know that each of you are lifted up in prayer multiple times throughout the days here.

  12. Melissa Dorion (LHS class of 87)

    Thoughts and prayers to all of Steve’s family and friends! May you feel the peace that surpasses all understanding!

  13. Janice Arnold

    I did not have the opportunity to meet Steve & his lovely family. I did have the pleasure of meeting the rest of the Bierle family last summer. Such a wonderful family! My heart is breaking for all of you. Thoughts & prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  14. Joshua Zebell

    I was very saddened to hear of your loss! Unfortunately I didn’t have alot of contact with Steve after high school, I can see by all the outpouring he was one outstanding man. I have the utmost respect for his selfless actions and believe that any father put in that position would have done what he did! Your family is in my thoughts and prayers through this very sad time!

  15. Deb & Dave Lane

    Our hearts go out to each of you at this time. May God give you peace & guide you through this uncharted territory. We remember Steve on the baseball field – that tough little left-handed pitcher who had the knack of picking off those runners on first base! (His coach says he averaged one pick-off a game!)
    May each of you find peace in the assurance of eternal life.
    – Deb & Dave Lane

  16. Stacy O'Neill

    Dear Bierle Family
    I remember Steve fondly from our youth group days at Waconia Alliance in Minnesota. We had so many wonderful memories all of us! I remember Steve as just the nicest guy around.
    We lost touch over the years, but I wish we hadn’t. Looking at his life now, I can tell he lived it to the fullest. Such a beautiful family he has, enjoying the great wilderness God so created.
    He is an absolute hero. Please know I will be uplifting you all in prayer in the days, weeks, months ahead. Until you all meet again, God bless you.

  17. Kim

    Dear Bierle Family, I do not know you or Steve, but I live in the area where the accident happened. I am sending prayers for your family during this time. He lived a good life and is Home now. His heroic sacrifice will be remembered forever. So sorry for your loss.

  18. Judy Grosch

    My heart is broken for the family. Sometimes we wonder why – he was so young and vital and done so much good in the world where there is so much evil and sadness. We pray that God will be with the young boys and guide them in their growing up without theri father.

  19. Paul Gnan

    “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 Praying for entire family! Favorite memory: watching a fishing video he made for high school where he used the same fish several times. Praise God for the Easter Message, I know my Redeemer Lives! And Steve is fishing with His disciples in Heaven:)

  20. Becky and Brian Mohr

    Prayers, love and God’s strength sent to you and your family! Brian thought the world of Steve and you–God shared him with us and now He needs Steve home! Your are in our thoughts and prayers… Brian and Becky Mohr

  21. Hope Aschmeller


    Thinking for your family during this time. Thoughts and prayers your way.

    Hope Aschmeller

  22. Tanya (Dean) McIlravy

    I graduated from SDSU Wildlife and Fisheries with Steve. I am glad that his family has God to cling to during this difficult time. I’m sorry we lost touch…we were in Gardiner for several days a few years ago and would have been great to go on a Flying Pig adventure had we known. Perhaps we can go rafting or fishing in Heaven someday, my friend.

  23. Brian & Amy (Rose LHS Class of '89) Weege

    Dearest Bierle Families,

    As our hearts here on earth are aching I am faithful in the beautiful comfort we have for our eternal home that we have with our Father in Heaven. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  24. John The Baptist

    Brad, Don, Bierle Family…

    I am heartbroken for you. This is just the kind of guy Steve was, though. He didn’t think twice about himself. I am sad for your loss. I am glad He rests safely in Jesus’ arms.

  25. craig and janell ostrom

    Don and the entire Bierle family. We are so sorry for your loss. We lost our 21 year old daughter last June 4th and know first hand how difficult a time this is. Even though we are secure in the knowledge that our loved ones are worshiping at the feet of Jesus, the pain of their loss is real. We are praying for you and if you need anything, please call or email.
    Craig and Janell Ostrom

  26. Rev. Dan Cave

    Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints! Prayers are ascending for Steve’s family and Don & Vernee in this moment of deep loss. May Christ our Savior be your comfort and peace in the days ahead–from the people of God at Christ Lutheran Church in Warren, MI, where Don gave a weekend Faith Search workshop in March a few years ago that people are still talking about!
    Pastor Dan & Cathy Cave

  27. Sally Jo Hansen Bowen

    We only met last weekend Pastor Don at a seminar. My husband and I just had lunch with Pastor last Sunday afternoon in Ferndale, WA. Our conversation embraced the “random mistake” of the foundational principle of DNA. (joking 🙂 The conversation led to a discussion on Heaven. The entire table joined in and Pastor Don said,” Heaven is more than likely going to have classes so we can continue to grow.” It is our hope that Pastor Don found a bit of comfort recalling our discussion at lunch. Upon hearing the news of the loss of Steve, I broke down and wept–remembering the spirit in which Pastor Don with misty eyes related a story about reading from C.S. Lewis to his sons, and how at three years old his son accepted the Lord . I continued to pray through the night and especially now as the shock wears off. “Greater love hath no man but to lay his life down for a friend.” In this case, Steve did so for his precious son. There may be little comfort in this fact, but there is a great amount of honor and respect in the way he sacrificed his own life to save his child.

  28. Bryan and Echo Dammann and family

    The Bierle Family;
    We share in your grief and mourning over the loss of Steve. What great memories I have of him. Too many to share. Steve is part of a legacy that left a lasting impression on me. It was the relationship I had with Don, Vernee, Brad, and Steve that served as a starting point for my own faith search. Today, my love for the Lord is due to God drawing me near to Him through families like your own. I am so thankful and grateful for the time we had together in our youth. The intent was always to catch up with him some day, but now that meeting will have to take place in heaven. What a perfect location to recognize a hero.

    Many years ago another Montana family lost a husband, father, son, and business owner in a tragic plane accident. God became the Father to the children in this family and showed great compassion and mercy to the widow. I can bear witness to God’s faithfulness and power as my wife was one of the children who God embraced. We kneel down in prayer that God does immeasurably more than any can think or imagine in this time of need. The hearts of our family is with the Bierles.
    Bryan and Echo Dammann and family. Isaiah, Evelyn, Ariel, and Duke.

  29. Wayne Goeken

    Don and Sandy Bierle families,
    Been thinking about Steve and all of you–feeling such a loss for such a wonderful person. Steve was always quick to make people feel comfortable and at ease. I always appreciated Steve’s love of the outdoors–hearing of his activities when we visited at family gatherings, especially his thoughts and actions related to conservation of the environment. I unfortunately did not keep in touch over the years but will always have Steve in mind going forward when out in the great outdoors that he so very much enjoyed.
    Don, Vernee, Brad…thank you for being part of my life and for the generosity and caring you’ve shown to others in how you are living your lives and contributed to this world through the nurturing of Steve and how he touched so many in such a positive way. He truly made a difference in making this world a better place which will only grow through his living legacy.
    Cousin Wayne

  30. Wanita Hauger

    My husband, Lynn and I and our daughters, Carissa and Alicia, have many happy memories of times spent with the Bierle’s when we lived in Watertown, MN. We were so sad to hear about Steve. We send our love, and we are praying for all of you.

  31. Andrew and Joy Cook

    To Sandy and the Bierle Family:
    Steve, we know you are in the presence of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    Sandy, we are so sorry for your loss. Praying you find comfort knowing that you will see him again someday…for eternity. The Lord called Steve home and his example will be forever remembered.
    Joy (Zellmann) and I are blessed to have Steve as a classmate and I will always be indebted to him for teaching me how to dance to the music of our high schools years. Athough he probably did not know it, I watched him dance to the rock n roll tunes of the 80’s and attempted to take all his moves. He was the best dancer and teammate.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you, and your three sons, until you are all reunited in heaven.
    Proverbs 10:7. The memory of the righteous is blessed.
    Romans 5:1-5. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, …
    Andrew and Joy Cook

  32. William Penning

    Bill and Melba Penning send our condolences to you for the loss of your son, father, husband and friend.
    Don dear friend and teacher in Venture Out our heart goes out to you!


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