Monday, September 12, 2005

Steve Lotti: There is no substitute

Where does one start when you have to talk about a friend Like Steve. It had been a couple of years since I had seen Steve before the reunion. To be honest, I wasn't even planning on going, But something told me I should, something good was going to come out of it. Don't get me wrong, seeing everyone was great, and knowing everyone had grown up, no petty high school bullshit still going on. But the second Sam Williams, John Whited and I saw Steve, I knew that every cent was worth it. It was like we had never lost touch for the fews years we did. After the reunion, Steve could have done anything, But he chose to come and hang with us. That is one thing I will never forget, Knowing that we meant enough to him for that to happen. Hell, I had to be at work at 5:30 the next morning but it didn't happen. I have many memories of Steve. Football, Baeball, Track, But nothing defines Steve Like the first time he, and Sam, And John, and myself went to our first White Zombie Concert, Steve was going crazy, using me as catapult for himself. It was nuts.
Those of us that had the pleasure of knowning Steve will never forget the type of person he was. He lead by example but never cared to see if anyone was following. He knew he was always doing the right thing, no matter what the cost. Steve was a different breed of person, but a friend none the less. I will never forget him. So help me, when anyone ask who is Steve Lotti, tell them only one thing, "Steve Lotti ruled." Nothing else to say

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Brook Herren

Steve was my likemindedly unconventional senior prom date (the guy that could appreciate my suggestion/preference of a blue blazin' 1972 Ford pickup with lawn chairs and cooler of beer in the back over a dime-a-dozen limo rental--his Mom quickly vetoed that though, and made him "act the gentleman" and arrive in higher style), a buddy from AP US Gov class, (and if memory serves me correctly) #10 on the football team (it's hard to see/remember jersey numbers from way up in the band nerd section where I was), and as one of the few guys listening to them at the time, my personal introduct-or to Rage Against the Machine; Sherra, his mother, was one of Mom's favorite "teacher friends" (as teachers like to call each other) and quite possibly one of the best (and nicest) kindergarten instructors in GA, 2004-2005 Teacher of the Year, and our families went to church together (N. Fayetter UMC). I kept track of his UGA progress/interests, world-wide adventures, new tattoos, and latest volunteer efforts he attacked with wild abandon through updates with his mom at church whenever I made it home; she was always so good to ask my parents about the rip-roarin' life and times of me as well (...I'm unfortunately much less exciting than Steve, even compared to one of his slow days). Sherra and Steve were two of the most incredible, considerate, caring, outgoing, generous people I had the good luck to meet, they had such a widespread and genuine impact on such a vast/diverse group of people, they'll certainly (and that's an extreme understatement) be missed, but more importantly, both made such wonderful, personal impressions on so many people, they'll also be eternally well-thought of and appreciated. -KBH

Friday, September 02, 2005

From Renee Crawford

I usually don’t pour out my thoughts and feelings to just everyone, but I figured I could do just that for Steve and his family.
It’s been 11 days since Steve and his mom died in that plane crash and I’m not a whole lot closer to understanding anything. After hearing the news and praying and emailing people like crazy and going to the funeral, now time is just going on without them.
It had been a few years since I had seen Steve. I’d known him since we were nine years old and his family moved in across the street from ours. The first time I ever saw him he was sitting on our couch watching TV while my dad was cooking out for some of our neighbors. I looked at him and thought he was so adorable. NEVER told him that of course.
Years went by and I always heard about the antics of the Lotti/Young family - Steve’s older sister running over some kid in the neighborhood (kid was alright, just learned why you should look both ways) and his younger sister unknowingly letting burglars into their home willingly ‘cause they seemed nice. He knew my family’s stories too – baby sister tossing dirt and rocks into Ziplocs and trying to sell them to the neighbors for the bargain price of a quarter (Steve’s mom would give Tasha a whole dollar! She ended up getting lots of dirt.) We went to school together and went to different colleges and just grew up. Through it all I always felt connected to him and knew we would always know where the other was. I guess I felt like he was some kind of second or third cousin.
Three months ago my baby sister graduated from high school and I saw Steve’s parents at her party. When Sherra saw me she immediately started telling me all what Steve had been doing for the past couple of years. She was so proud of all he had done and told me about his fianceé (he hadn’t proposed yet, but I guess mom’s are always ahead of the game). Even knowing that Steve was adventurous, I was still surprised by all that he had done. She told me that he was ending his tour with the Peace Corp and coming back to Atlanta and to our 10-year reunion.
At our reunion, when I spotted a guy with a ponytail from across the room I knew it was him and ran to see him. I teased him about his hair and he promptly told me that my sister was throwing a big party at the house because his parents had received a flyer warning of the festivities and asking everyone to please not call the cops. We laughed and I did tell him that I thought what he’d done in the Peace Corp was really awesome. But, there were so many people there that night that I hadn’t seen in so long that I didn’t go in to asking him more about it there, because I knew that I would have more time later. I regret that so much now.
I had about 16 hours from the time I knew he was on that plane to the time I knew he’d been confirmed dead. During that time I went from being hysterical to hopeless to numb to knowing that I had just overreacted. More than half of those passengers survived. More than HALF! Seeing the pictures I knew that was a miracle in itself. I figured that the family had gotten a call from Steve or Sherra in the night, but that they were so busy rejoicing and letting the immediate family know the great news that telling the neighbors was going to happen the next day. I figured Steve was just a little banged up and in some foreign “hospital” – using the word hospital loosely here. I figured that I’d see him again in a week or so and be able to hug him and tell him how I felt about him and get to hear his new story about how he survived a plane crash in the Peruvian jungle.
At 9am the day after the crash my father told me that there had been no middle of the night phone calls. That was when I really prepared for hearing the worst news I could think of.
We all know what happened now. They are gone from us. I don’t really consider them lost since I know where they are. Even so, I can’t quite come to terms with all of this.
Steve was something special. I know everyone starts saying all these nice things about people after their dead, but Steve was different. He was smart, charismatic, thoughtful, funny, adventurous, creative, good-looking, etc, etc, etc. Almost every complimentary adjective you can think of to describe a person would apply to him. He was smart and altruistic, but not geeky and unable to relate to people. He was hilarious and unique, but not weird or self-destructive. I’ve been trying to think of something not so great about him and all I can come up with is that he was quiet sometimes.
I’m so sad for his family and for the rest of us. Knowing what I’m feeling I can’t even imagine what they’re feeling. I’m not sure if they knew that most everyone else thought Steve was special too. When you’re related to someone, you pretty much love them no matter what. Steve was almost impossible not to love if you knew him.
More than anything I was feeling so angry - angry that we (the world) have been so cheated of him. We’ve been cheated out of all the things he would’ve done in his life, the people he would’ve helped, the lives he would’ve made better, the people he would’ve made laugh, the children he would’ve raised. Slowly, I’ve started seeing another perspective. I’ve started feeling blessed that we had him at all for 28 years. The world didn’t deserve him, but we were blessed with him anyway.
I will miss him and his mom and think about his family everyday. I can’t wait to see him again and see what kinds of things he’s doing for God’s kingdom. I know God has a sense of humor and I can’t help but think that he’s cracking up the creator of all the universe right now.
I know that everyone affects the people around them and leaves an impression when they’re gone. But, there truly aren’t many people you can say made the world better. I only know one.
Steve, the world was a better place because you were here. I love you and miss you and I will see you again. Keep the hair long, dude!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Obituary and Funeral Information

Stephen Lotti

Family-Placed Death Notice

Stephen Michael Lotti, 28, of Fayetteville, passed away during a vacation with his mother, Sherra Young in Peru. After graduating from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science and Archaeology, Steve recently completed a 2 year term with the United States Peace Corps in Bolivia. Steve was a dedicated son, brother, grandson, and uncle who devoted his life to the service of others. He is survived by his father, David Lotti, step-father, Jeffrey Young, brother, Joe and Catherine Lotti, sister, Krista and Cullen Lowery, sister, Melinda and Brian Olver, grandmother, Jacqueline Hambrick and 4 nieces. Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 11 AM at North Fayette United Methodist Church. Rev. Doug Burrell, Rev. Dee Shelnutt and Rev. Dennis Watson will officiate. Interment, Camp Memorial Park. The family will receive friends from 5-8 PM. Donations in Steve's memory may be made to the Peace Corps Partnership Progaram, by contacting Nancy Brennan, 202-692-2185. Carl J. Mowell & Son, Fayetteville,
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 8/29/2005.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Loss of a Friend

Steve Lotti, 28, died alongside his mother in a plane crash in Peru on August 24th, 2005. Steve was a Fayette County High School and University of Georgia graduate, a Peace Corps volunteer, an archaeologist, and an inspiration to all who knew him.

In the wake of this tragedy, we are all left to grieve and remember the ways that Steve touched our lives. Please share your memories and your thoughts for Steve’s family here.

Steve's High School Reunion Bio

Most important experience since High School:
Traveling over the world-backpacking across Europe-spending three weeks in Africa and 2 years in Bolivia

Yup. Still here in the 3rd world. Graduated from UGA in 1998. I had an overwhelming desire for money, power, and women -so I became an archaeologist. And obtained none of these. But I have gotten to dig up some cool stuff and even the occasional dead guy. I worked in that until 2003. Then the overwhelming desire for money, power, women, AND FAME took over-so I joined the Peace Corp. I now live in the jungle with no running water or electricity somewhere in Bolivia. Now my hobbies include avoiding left wing insurgency and drinking this weird corn liquor every other day. I finish my 2 años in July and, because my bid to become pope failed- back to archaeology.

Tribute from Sam Williams

Steve Lotti is my friend. Today the news made my heart feel like it weighed a ton, the burning lump in my throat won’t go away and my eyes continue to burn while I continue to think about the news I have just heard. I have read the article about a hundred times now, and each time it gets more real. My hands and arms continue to shake and there are moments I have to excuse myself from my desk and take a “breather”. I am still in disbelief over the untimely death of someone I am proud to call my friend. “Lotti” as we called him was an awesome person, a great guy that I truly enjoyed knowing. He was a great friend and someone you could rely on. I did not have the honor of knowing his mother well, but what I can say is that she must have been special because she did a really great job with Steve.

Our reunion less then a month ago has ended up being a big blessing as it was the first time I had seen my friend in years. I thank God I went and that Lotti came, the person I wanted to see the most and figured was least likely to appear. I take that bit of joy and concentrate on it. When I saw him walk in, I was so excited to see him…all his friends were. He had been in Bolivia working with the Peace Corps and he shared his experiences with me and our mutual friends. Lotti was proud to serve and I was proud of him for serving. How many of us have “just decided” to give up the life we know to help others? Not many of us…not me anyway, but Lotti did.

That’s Lotti though and Lotti never surprised me, he was one of a kind. I spent a lot of time catching up with Lotti at the reunion. John Whited, Joey Hedden, and I enjoyed the time catching up with Lotti and even went back to John’s house to talk some more about the past, present and future into the morning hours. I will always cherish the time we all had together and

hold it close to my heart because it was like we all hadn’t changed…well except Lotti’s hair was longer. It was at that time we all committed to seeing each other more and all decided we were going to watch the next few Georgia Bulldog games together. I know it’s silly, but it was important to all of us. We made Lotti promise. He said he would, and I have no doubt in my heart that he will still be with us.

Lotti told us he had a trip planned and would be returning before the game and when he got back he’d See us and make plans. That’s what hurts my heart. We were so excited to see him and it was so close to happening in a few weeks. It was a big moment for all of us to hang out for the whole day and likely early into the next morning. That’s all the guys and I talked about the next few weeks was seeing Lotti again. That should have been a big weekend for us. Now our hearts will be heavy, the day will lack a big piece of us, our hearts and minds will be somewhere else. He was a special person, one of a kind, an easy going comfortable person to be around. If you didn’t know Steve Lotti I feel bad for you, you missed out on knowing an incredible person and friend. I know I speak for myself and Lotti’s other friends when I say that He will be incredibly missed and will not be forgotten.

Lotti, you always were a damn good Dawg.

Sam Williams

Message from Harry Fitch

Fellow staff: I was able to visit with Steve at the Class of 95 reunion a few weeks ago. He told me, with his unique excitement, that he would return to archeology, doing most of his work in South Georgia "to see where I came from." He had kept a journal of more than 200 pages of his experiences with the Peace Corps. He lived his life with purpose and I found it somewhat ironic that as we study "the American dream" in 11th grade English and talk about "heritage" that Steve was studying his American dream as his life's work. He was a fine young man.

- Harry Fitch