Dick Stem, a World War II veteran who built a successful Sarasota-area building supply company, died surrounded by family at his Boca Grande home on April 13, 2022. He was 94.
The patriarch of a multigenerational Florida family, Dick was a character whose quick smile and love for telling a good joke endeared him to those who crossed his path. But most of all, “Papa,” as he was known to loved ones, cherished being surrounded by family. He took care of those close to him, while also contributing to charitable causes.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Nov. 18, 1927, Thomas Richard (“Dick”) Stem moved to Florida as a boy and graduated from Sarasota High School before earning a business degree from the University of Florida. He served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
Dick held season tickets to Gator football for decades, and he generously donated to the University of Florida. He also loved to hunt, fish and dive. His fun-loving nature was captured for posterity in February of 1954, when the Tampa Tribune noted that he was crowned king of the Sara de Sota pageant. Underneath a photo of a beaming 26-year-old Dick, the newspaper noted that a “loud cheer” went out from hundreds at the gala when his name was announced.
The hard worker was active in the local chamber of commerce and owned Gulf Coast Building Materials.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 55 years, Joyce Stem. Dick will be greatly missed by daughters Edie (Gary) Reger of Englewood, Fla., Cindy (Lew) Olsen of St. Cloud, Fla.; and son Dickie (Carrie) Stem of Myakka City, Fla.; and five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The family will hold a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, PO Box 2000, Live Oak, FL 32064.