Raffel, Stephen William

February 19, 1957 – August 30, 2019
at the age of 62 years

In late December 2018, Stephen had a freak accident at home and suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia.  As devastating as the prognosis was, with his natural grit and determination he tried therapies and ideas suggested to him in the hopes of proving the prognosis wrong and making a livable life.  Steve lived from hospital bed to wheelchair for eight months but never regained the joie de vivre he had for life.  He went from I can’t live like this to I am living like this, to this isn’t a life for me.  Stephen’s suffering from pain, impairment of strength and the inability to freely function ended on August 30th lovingly supported by his family.
Steve began his flying career in 1979.  Together with wife Lori Anthony, they founded and operated their own air charter and scheduled airline, Shuswap Air.  They offered daily flights between Salmon Arm and Vancouver as well as charter flights from the Salmon Arm airport for over ten years.  For the remainder of his career, he flew up and down the west coast and all over B.C. and some western states.  After semi retiring he took on private contracts flying overseas to S. Africa and Iraq.  His flight log books reflect close to seventeen thousand hours in the air.
Stephen was a man of adventure and had many passions; an avid outdoors person who excelled at any and all sports, an obsessive card player (Life Master at Bridge and poker), a compassionate farmer who raised sheep on their small holding, a fellow who was intrigued with options trading on the stock market, a competent builder.  The list goes on.  Whatever he set his mind too, he achieved seemingly easily and effortlessly.
Stephen was born in Salmon Arm and lived many of his years in his hometown but also lived in Vernon, a year in Switzerland as a young boy and work related years in Steveston (Richmond, B.C.).  His parents were Margrit Haemisegger Raffel and Helmut William Raffel. (both predeceased) His sister Suzanne Margrit Raffel Jenseth resides in New York state with her husband Richard Jenseth.  Niece Adrienne Jenseth Sweeney (Danny Sweeney and children Eleanor and Will), nephew Alex Jenseth also reside in New York state.  Stephen is lovingly remembered by Uncle Hansi Fred Haemisegger (Bobby Haemisegger, cousins Lisa Haemisegger Allis and Wynne Haemisegger Deckard), Aunt Leny Paul (Norm and Danny Paul) and Aunt Marianne Haemisegger Vezzani (Piero Vezzani, cousin Viviana Vezzani, husband Karl Spoerri and daughter Ava), cousins Marlene Rosmer Cottrell and Ron Rosmer.  Beloved grandparents “Mutti” and “Granti” Haemisegger and uncle Dudley Paul, Aunt Leta (Michael) Raffel Rosmer, Uncles Hans (Marcella) and Carl Raffel and Granny (Anna) Raffel all predeceased.  Also predeceased by his good dog, Ripper.
Steve and Lori have been extremely blessed to have had our wonderful family, friends and neighbours swoop in and circle us with their love and support over the last eight months.  We are grateful for Dr. Warren Bell, the nursing staff at both Vancouver General Hospital and Shuswap Lake General Hospital and GF Strong’s rehab team.  We have great love for each and everyone one of you.  No service at his request.  Soar high Stephen. 💗
Stephen was concerned about world conservation, wildlife and our role in being good stewards of our beautiful earth.  Donations in his memory may be made to: https://donate.nationalgeographic.org/donate


 “In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away”  Shing Xiong


  1. We were very saddened to hear about Steve’s accident and long suffering,
    It was always a pleasure hearing about his adventures and we are forever grateful that Steve actually did some shopping for our store on one of his trips to South Africa.
    Our love and thoughts are with you Lori at this difficult time.

  2. Our condolences to Steve’s family, the community has lost a good friend. Memories of Steve were at the bridge table where he was an excellent player and a good coach for his partner. I’ll also miss Steve at the poker table where we had the added bonus of hearing about travels abroad, many of which we could only see in our dreams. I’ll miss Steve’s energy and unrivaled commitment that he applied to all his endeavors. Fly safe my friend and God bless.

  3. Very sad to hear of Steve’s unfortunate accident and subsequent battle and ultimately his passing. I haven’t been in touch for quite a while but was looking forward to checking in at our 50th school reunion coming up. We were buds and bridge partners in high school. My condolences to all his family and close friends. He will be missed I’m sure.

  4. I will always remember Steve teaching me how to feed a lamb. It was one of the days that make life so special. Lori, you know where I am when the time comes.

  5. We will miss our buddy Steve, at the poker table. His interesting stories and sense of humour added a positive dimension to our sessions over the years. Steve was challenged at times to disguise the great cards he had been dealt. His tremendous smile and glow in his eyes had us all reconsidering our next move. He will always be at the table in our future poker nights.

  6. Steve and Ripper. Back on the snowy slopes together again. Thanks for the friendship, the laughs and the inspirations.
    I do not know what the future holds. Hopefully it will be a while, but either way, be sure to leave some turns for the rest of us. I will try to keep in shape so I can keep up with you.

  7. Dear Lori,
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Lee had a great admiration for Steve’s flying skills.
    My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
    Jos PENNER

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