Stephanie Jean Moore-Verratti
8/15/1984 – 12/2/2010
Stephanie’s life was cut short December 2, 2010 at 26 years of age. Stephanie was going to work this December morning and the roads were clear north of Buffalo, yet I don’t know why there was some black ice in the road at Millersport and Transit. Stephanie lost control of her car as had others that day but for the sake of seconds there happened to be a tractor trailer coming the other way. I believe this was no coincidence, but a divine appointment. What is significant is not the tragedy of her death but the impact of her life.
Her life here on earth was indeed a positive force on all those who knew her and even to those who met her that day. She grew up in a neighborhood that became an extended family as written by a neighbor to the local newspaper after her death. Stephanie was happy and rarely complained. Just before her 1st birthday she had a hernia operation, and she was happy and jumping in the crib as soon as she came into recovery. She broke her collar bone twice, once falling out of bed and once playing a game at church. The church called to say she fell and I went to check on her. I told her she was okay and she went back to the meeting. When I got home, Martha, a nurse and youth worker called to say she thought she might have a broken collar bone. It was broken and so was her finger, but she believed her dad and went back even with the pain.
She was a friend to everyone. In one of the obituaries written to the newspaper, a girlfriend’s mother said she asked her daughter, what group did Stephanie hang out with in high school? Her daughter’s response was, everyone. She was outgoing and comfortable in all she did.
As a young girl she decided to play soccer and soon after, many of her neighborhood friends joined the local soccer facility with her. Stephanie went on 2 or 3 family vacations every year. She would get invited to join a friend on their vacation and each year thereafter they would take her along, not just because her friend wanted her there, but the entire family wanted to have her with them. We also went on family vacations, often with other families. Her favorite place was Disney World, but also anywhere she could lay in the warm sun to get a tan. After she was married she took her husband to Disney and to show him everything, as he says, in an 8 day marathon. One vacation was to Colorado and we went to a camp on the side of a nearly 14,000 foot mountain. We hiked up the mountain. Once above timberline the air becomes very thin, she was about 14 and she thought she had gone far enough and wanted to quit, but her brother came back and said the top was just a little farther. She persevered and made it to the top. I think it was an inspiring day for her where she learned with just a little more effort there is great success.
She loved to dance and she knew every word to every song she ever heard. She was a fierce competitor, always striving to get the best grades and do the best work, and yet went out of her way to make sure those around her did not get hurt by anything she said or did. The youth pastor from our church said that she would make you feel good even while telling you that you messed up. While working with young people in church she would search out those who seemed uncomfortable or not accepted in the group and make them feel welcome. If you were feeling down she would lift up your spirit with a joke or a nice comment. Many of her co-workers came to her funeral with sadness in their eyes. I did not know them but asked each of them the same question. Did she ever make you smile? Their countenance immediately changed as they smiled and said, every day. Her husband Jeremy writes, “…Intelligent and hard working. Striving to always do better in school, college and work brought an incredible passion and focus. Stephie understood that she’d been given gifts and talents and she needed to use them to do life well. Then of course, she did.”
Stephanie was involved in many activities. Every Saturday morning she would bowl, only after having breakfast with her dad. She liked roller skating and playing soccer, canoeing and almost any other activity she had a chance to try. She followed her older brother into the stage crew while in High School where she was able to be with friends and make new ones. After her brother got a job with the local canal cruise company, she was hired there as well. The relationship between her and her brother was sometimes rocky, like most siblings, but she continually followed along wherever he went and would do her best to make him proud. Certainly her brother opened some opportunities for her, but once there, she would take over and do whatever was asked of her and more. One of her most enjoyable opportunities was to lead tours from local schools and give them the history of the Erie Canal, she knew it better than most.
She was very involved in church and as an adult she became a leader and mentor. Many papers were written in high school and college about what they had learned from Stephanie in the time she spent with them. It is also where she met one of her best friends Esther and Esther’s brother Jeremy. He eventually became her husband. Again, as with all of her friends, she became a loved member of everyone in their family. Her mother-in-law described her as someone who was just as comfortable with the oldest member of their family as she was with the youngest child. She also said of her that she was a trusted confidant who kept secrets and never spread rumors- totally loyal. Her husband wrote, “…Trustworthy, she was a woman with a keen sense of what needed and didn’t need to be said. The secrets of others filled her mind and rarely was one allowed to escape by mistake or unaccounted for. Jeremy also loved that she was selfless. “She gave so much too so many. Focus wasn’t needed in this area – she was simply selfless. Now obviously God gave her the ability – but I don’t believe she had to work at this. She just did it.” So many of her characteristics came from her mother.
In the end she had already made arrangements to be an organ donor and she accepted Jesus as her personal savior and Lord. She knew where she would spend eternity. We joke that the person who received her heart probably didn’t have enough space, it was so big. We now know the person who received one of her kidneys, he is doing great and so appreciative. He agrees that what happens in life isn’t just chance, God has a plan. Sometimes we don’t like the plan but in the end, life is short. Even if you live to be a hundred, there is so little time. We need to be prepared and Stephanie was.
When asked to describe Stephanie in a word it is “love” and her grave stone says simply, “she loved”. The Bible says in Proverbs 3: 3-4,
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
Stephanie found them both.
Now each year there is a memorial soccer tournament and basket raffle to benefit scholarships in her name, as well as needy families and many other social needs in the area. This event became a reality because of her girlfriends from school, vacation friends and the neighborhood she grew up in. They each wanted to see her memory live on.
A wonderful tribute to someone so loved by so many.