Steve Dowall – Well Done

Stephen Hunter Francis Dowall, 1963-2015

Steve Dowall and family

Steve went missing on Aoraki Mount Cook on 25 November 2015 when he became separated from a friend with whom he was climbing. Steve was an experienced climber but for some reason did not reach the hut that he and his friend were making for. There are some large crevasses and some avalanche debris in the area where Steve was last seen. Bad weather has prevented police from undertaking an intensive search, and they now describe their task as no longer a rescue mission but a recovery mission. A celebration of Steve’s life was held at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Timaru, today, 5 December.

I first met Steve in 1991 when he joined me in Cambodia to work with Southeast Asian Outreach (SAO), now Cambodia Action. Steve was co-director (later director) of SAO’s SCALE project, which aimed to combat Cambodia’s decline in natural fish stocks by promoting the adoption of aquaculture by subsistence farmers. Steve was totally committed to improving the living standards of the communities in which he worked. He worked tirelessly, he was always ready to go the extra mile and he combined deep compassion and a gentle spirit with a tough, uncompromising, hands-on approach. On one occasion, the struggle to protect a hatchery reservoir from being overwhelmed by rainy season floods required Steve to swim in the reservoir, where he found he was being accompanied by venomous snakes. Steve was a highly principled man who held tenaciously to a course of action when he believed it was the right thing to do. Above all, Steve was motivated by his love of the Lord Jesus Christ, for whom he was an effective and faithful ambassador in word and action.

Having stayed with Steve and Sovann in their homes on several occasions, I had the privilege of observing Steve in his role as husband and father. The same qualities of strong moral principles, humour and tough love that I had seen in his professional life were evident in the home. It was plain to see how his children both adored and respected him. I can also understand why Sovann has been quoted as asking a few days ago, “What can I do without him?”

I mourn the loss of a dear friend, but I celebrate the accomplishments of a man who has made such a huge difference for good to the lives of refugees, the poor of Cambodia, Myanmar and elsewhere, his colleagues, his family and his friends.

Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.

Myers Cooper