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Alumni Happenings - July 2007
Grand County High School

 



Pam Steele Lopez, GCHS Class of 1978
by Jeff Richards

Pam Steele Lopez, a member of the Grand County High School Class of 1978, knows that it’s only fitting that she met her eventual husband, Rick, on a ball field, of all places.

“I was home from college for the summer, playing in a fast-pitch softball tournament,” recalls Pam. “Rick had just moved here with his family from Colorado, and was also playing in a tournament.”

After one of the games, Pam’s mother Montez Steele (who had been cutting Rick’s hair), introduced Rick to her daughter Pam. “He was new to town, and he was shy,” recalls Montez. “I just wanted him to meet my daughter.”

Shortly after that initial meeting, Rick and Pam ran into each other at a gas station, where they were filling up their respective vehicles. Rick left his van at the station, hopped in Pam’s car, and the two drove around the Moab area for hours, visiting and getting to know each other. “That was our first date, believe it or not,” says Pam with a laugh. “After that, we spent a lot of time going on rides together, especially on Rick’s motorcycle.”

In April of 1982, Rick and Pam were married. They have five children, the oldest three of whom have already graduated from GCHS. Oldest daughter Stephanie, 24, (Class of 2001) is married to Jason Cluff; they live in Moab. Second child Andrea, 21, (Class of 2004) lives in Nevada. Middle child Ricky, 19, the only boy in the family, just graduated from GCHS in 2007 and plans to attend the University of Utah this fall. Fourth child Emily, 17, will be a senior at GCHS next year. Youngest daughter Torrie, 12, will be in 7th grade at Grand County Middle School in the fall.

After graduating from GCHS in 1978, Pam attended College of Eastern Utah in Price on a softball scholarship for two years, graduating with an associate degree. She also did gymnastics while at CEU. Around that time, Rick’s family moved from Telluride, Colo. to Moab, where Rick’s father took a job at Moab Salt. Rick, who graduated from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, started working at the Food Town grocery store in Moab. Later, when City Market came to town, he began working there. He has been working for City Market for the past 27 years, and currently manages the produce department.

Pam Steele 1978
Like their parents, all five of the Lopez children have excelled at multiple sports. Stephanie played basketball and softball, and was also on the cheerleading squad. She also played softball and did cheerleading at Snow College. Andrea also played basketball and softball, and was a cheerleader for the Red Devils. She also cheered at the College of Southern Idaho, and went to Costa Rica for one semester of college. Ricky starred on the football, basketball, and baseball teams throughout his high school career, and was recently named to the All-State baseball first team by both the Deseret Morning News and the Salt Lake Tribune. Ricky also participated on the debate team, which has taken state the past two years. He also was named the 2007 regional Sterling Scholar winner for the trade and technology category, earning a full-ride college scholarship. Emily plays basketball and softball for the Lady Devils, and received first-team All-State softball honors recently. She also is on the cheerleading squad. Torrie is now playing softball for the Cardinals, the Moab City Recreation team coached by her parents. Torrie also enjoys playing basketball.

The Lopezes are known for their passion for sports, which is evident in their almost constant presence in the stands or sidelines, either as fans or as coaches. Rick is also a frequent radio play-by-play announcer for Red Devil sports, announcing road football, baseball, and softball games on KCYN for local fans to enjoy.

“I love watching the games, but I get emotional [as a radio commentator],” says Pam. “I get a little vocal, but people say it’s okay for me to get a little excited, because it makes it seem like they’re there at the game with us.”

In addition to their own children, Pam and Rick enjoy supporting the activities of their extended families, which are quite large. Rick has six siblings, including four brothers who all still reside in Moab, as does their mother. Pam’s parents (Ron and Montez Steele) also reside in Moab, and so do Pam’s two brothers, Mike and Jeff. Pam also has two sisters, Jeanie, who lives in Arizona, and Julie, who lives in Sandy, Utah. The Steele family first moved from Salina to Moab in 1965, when Pam was about five years old. The four youngest Steele children are all graduates of GCHS. Many of the second-generation Lopezes and Steeles have also graduated from GCHS over the years.

“Family support is so important. Everyone in our families, including grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, supports each other. I think it helps the kids to succeed,” says Pam. “We keep them involved in many things.”

Quips Pam’s mother: “We keep ‘em busy so they don’t have time to get into trouble.”

In high school, Pam participated in basketball, volleyball, softball, cheerleading. She also was active in the FHA club and played in the school band. “We also got to go on a history trip back east between my junior and senior years, and we had a blast,” says Pam. “I also loved playing softball and basketball for Coach Lynn Allen.”

“The things I remember most are the trips we took for sports and band,” says Pam. “I loved school, and being part of the clubs and activities.”

Another of Pam’s fondest memories was serving as the Red Devil mascot for her junior and senior years, even if it meant wearing a heavy full-head mask that was hard to see out of.

Pam has operated the Happy Days Preschool from her home for the past 19 years. This summer, she recently started a new summer job driving a bus for the local senior center. When she’s not coaching softball or attending ball games, she manages to find time to pull a few evening shifts as a waitress at the Sunset Grill.

Spending time with family has always been a top priority for the Lopez family. “The thing I really appreciate about my kids is that they’re good kids. They may not be perfect, but they’re not afraid to put their arms around you and give you a hug. They’re appreciative,” says Pam. “We’ve truly been blessed.”
A few months ago, Pan and Rick celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They received a Caribbean cruise from their kids as a present, and will be flying to Florida to take the cruise later this summer. “It’s something we’ve never done before, and I’m actually looking forward to having a little break to relax,” says Pam.

Pam says she and her family appreciate the diversity of the local community, which makes Moab a great place to live. “This community is so willing to reach out and help people, no matter what,” she says.
 
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