UTAH STATE PRISON Stephen R. Anderson, a corrections officer who died in the line of duty, was memorialized Thursday when the warden's administration building at the Utah State Prison was named in his honor.
"Our focus here today is not on Steve's death but on his life and the family he had," said Tom Patterson, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, who added that "we all have become part of his family."
Anderson died of gunshot wounds June 25, 2007, while escorting a prison inmate to a hospital for tests. The inmate, Curtis Michael Allgier, is now facing capital murder charges.
Anderson's son, Shawn, who also is a corrections officer, characterized his father as a hard-working, humble man who did not try to draw attention to himself such as getting a building dedicated to him.
"Those of you who knew my dad he wouldn't want it," Shawn Anderson said, smiling as he wiped away tears, while an audience gathered for the ceremony chuckled.
On a more serious note, he urged listeners to remember his father's life and example when looking at the building because it will inspire onlookers to try to become better people.
"He truly was a man who tried to do right, always," Shawn Anderson said.
Steve Turley, the prison warden, also choked up as he recalled Stephen Anderson's devotion to his work and family, and the many kind deeds he did for others while expecting nothing in return.
Turley said Anderson was a disciplined, caring man who also was loyal. "Never did I hear him talk badly about the department, his co-workers or the inmates," he said.
Turley joked about Anderson's abiding love of ice cream but also remembered being impressed by the credo that Anderson said he wanted to live by: "Put in more than an honest day's work, but don't forget the needs of your family."
Inside the building's lobby is a large, lighted glass-enclosed cabinet holding a permanent memorial to Anderson filled with photographs and other items.
Afterward, Anderson's wife, Millie, said she was pleased with the building dedication. "He really deserved the recognition because he was such a wonderful person," she said.
Millie Anderson said she and her children "had to share him with a lot of people" because he was so often involved in service projects and charitable efforts to help his neighbors and community.
A grandson, Quinn Anderson, 7, who cuddled up to his grandmother, said he loved and missed his grandfather.
Even many prison inmates were saddened by Anderson's death and took up a collection to send to the family."I got letters from them telling me how much they enjoyed their transports (with Anderson)," Millie Anderson said. "He even tried to help some of them, giving them advice about their lives. He was very compassionate."