Sunday, June 12, 2011

STEPHEN BLY...On The Last Trail

Steve's signature in the sand
August 17, 1944 - June 9, 2011

I have fought the good fight.
I have finished the race.
I have kept the faith.
I have done those things in life
that I would regret not doing.

Stephen Arthur Bly, 66, of Winchester, Idaho, passed away June 9, 2011, at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho, after a five year battle with prostate cancer.

Steve was born August 17, 1944, to Arthur Worthington Bly and Alice Wilson Bly, at Visalia, California. He had one sibling, sister Judith Bly Walston who lives at the family homestead in Ivanhoe, California. He was raised on the family farm in Ivanhoe and worked for many years with both his father and for a time with his uncle M. J. ‘Buster’ Allen of Allen Farms in Coalinga, California.

Stephen & Janet Bly 1963
He met his wife, Janet Chester, at Redwood High School, Visalia, California, both in Class of 1962. They married June 14, 1963, and raised three sons, Russell Stuart, Michael Stephen and Aaron Timothy.

Stephen Bly 1975
He graduated summa cum laude in Philosophy from Fresno State University (1971). He left farming to pursue a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary (1974) in Pasadena and was ordained in the UPCUSA Presbyterian Church. He served as pastor of Woodlake (CA) Presbyterian Church, Fillmore (CA) Bible Church and more than twenty years at Winchester (ID) Community Church.

During his college years he helped run a political campaign for Assemblyman Gordon Duffy of Kings and Tulare Counties in California and served as his Administrative Assistant at the Sacramento capitol. In more recent years he was councilman for several terms for Winchester city and served as its mayor (1999 to 2007).

Steve authored and co-authored with his wife, Janet, numerous articles, short stories and cowboy poetry, plus more than 100 nonfiction and both contemporary and historical fiction for adults, teens and kids (8 to 17 years). Many of his novels have been recorded in audio form, as well as translated into languages such as Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Portuguese. In May his most recent historical western was released, Throw The Devil Off The Train. 

The Long Trail Home
 He was a winner and finalist for the prestigious Christy Award for Christian Western Novels, for his books The Long Trail Home, Last of the Texas Camp, The Outlaw’s Twin Sister and Picture Rock. A few days before his passing, he was dictating scenes for Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot.  His wife and sons hope to finish  this book for him, for 2012 release. 

He has received national positive reviews for his books, including in Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. Little Jimmy Dickens of the Grand Ole Opry once wrote Steve a personal note: “Your book (One Step Over The Border) is as good or better than Louis L’Amour’s.” He was an Active Member of the Western Writers of America. A complete list of his books can be found online at

Steve (many times with his wife, Janet) traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada to speak at couples and family conferences, men’s retreats and seminars or workshops for home-schoolers and writers conferences, as well as for Young Writers Institute. 

In the 1990s he participated in Family Living Conferences sponsored by Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, in churches across the country with authors such as Gary Chapman, Kevin Leman, Ross Campbell, Harold Sala, Craig Massey, Mel Johnson, Greg Speck and Gary Ezzo.  He and his wife have mentored many students for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.

Stephen Bly - par golfer
His hobbies included playing golf and he was an avid collector of antique Winchesters with his business partner, Jim Grueter, of Winchester. He and Jim wrote regular articles for The Big Show Journal, a magazine for gun collectors. A popular tourist and fan site has been the false front town he built at his Winchester home called Broken Arrow Crossing, named after his first Stuart Brannon novel, Hard Winter At Broken Crossing.

Stephen Bly Family
He is survived by his wife, Janet, of Winchester; son Russ Bly and wife Lois, of Lewiston; son Mike Bly and wife Michelle of Lewiston; son Aaron Bly and wife Rina of Lewiston; grandchildren Zachary Bly, Miranda Ross and husband Chris Ross, Keaton Bly, Deckard Bly, all of Lewiston; great-granddaughter, Alayah Ross of Lewiston; sister Judy Walston and husband Bill of Ivanhoe, California; nephew Stephen Walston and wife Natalie of Eureka, California; niece Stella Walston and nephew Porter Walston of Eureka, California; as well as numerous other nieces and nephews, cousins, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Alice Bly, and by his nephew, Scott Walston.

Graveside service: Wednesday, June 15, 10:00 a.m., at Lewis Clark Memorial Gardens in Lewiston, Idaho. Memorial and Celebration of Life Service: 3:00 p.m., at Winchester Community Church, Winchester, Idaho. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Winchester Community Church, c/o Brad Ailor, P. O. Box 422, Winchester, Idaho, 83555 or to a cancer research foundation of your choice. 

Goodbye, dear friend