Family, colleagues say goodbye to Steve Appleton

broberts@idahostatesman.comFebruary 10, 2012 

This column was originally published in the Idaho Statesman Feb. 10, 2012

Many of the people who attended Steve Appleton's funeral service Thursday knew his public persona as the highly competitive chief executive of Micron Technology Inc.

What they heard during the 75-minute memorial service at St. John's Cathedral was Appleton's love for and commitment to his family.

"All the great things he's done and all the great things that he's given, it came down to: what an incredible family man, " said Greg Patton, Boise State University tennis coach, who was one of more than 400 people who attended the service.

Appleton, chairman and CEO of Micron, died Feb. 3 when the small plane he was piloting crashed at Boise Airport.

As sad as the funeral was, said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, it was leavened by "a lot of happier things" from Appleton's life.

Scot Ludwig, a friend and Boise attorney, spoke about the time Appleton's son got Ludwig's son interested in a go-kart.

As Boise State University President Bob Kustra heard it, a go-kart showed up at Ludwig's home — in about 500 pieces. Ludwig called Appleton to explain the problem, and Appleton and his wife came over immediately to help.

When they opened the box, they discovered assembly instructions written in Chinese. Undaunted, Appleton stayed up through the night putting the go-kart together.

Anabella, Appleton's 10-year-old daughter, spoke at the service to thank her father for all the things he did for her — including letting her do manicures and pedicures on him, Kustra recounted.

"It was very emotional," Patton said. "It was hard to see these young kids."

For those who knew Appleton as a fast-charging, stunt-plane-flying, race-car-driving, always-busy businessman and community benefactor, the way he carved out time for family seemed impossible.

"How did he do that all?" Kustra asked.

According to the service program, among others who spoke were Appleton's brother, Chris, who had raced with Appleton in the Baja 1000 off-road race; Appleton's sister, Adrienne Matros; and Gene LaMott, former CEO of Gold's Gym and, like Appleton, a Boise State grad.

Appleton owned three Gold's Gym franchises in the Treasure Valley. In 2011, they all became Axiom, a new name for the local chain owned by Appleton.

VIPs attending the service included Gov. Butch Otter; former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig; Micron Foundation Executive Director Dee Mooney; and Boise State football coach Chris Petersen.

The service was not open to reporters. The program featured a picture of Appleton and his wife on the cover and family snapshots on the back; it also included the 23rd Psalm and a logo from Appleton's Bad Apple auto-racing team.

The service included the singing of "Amazing Grace" and a video celebrating Appleton's life.

A graveside service followed at Dry Creek Cemetery northwest of Boise and included a civilian "missing man" aircraft flyover that honored the enthusiastic pilot. Micron officers and members of Appleton's 1980 Boise State tennis team were in the procession.

Among the pall bearers listed in the program were Appleton's brother-in-law Darren Willey, co-founder of Diversified Fluid Solution in Boise who worked in chemical systems at Micron; Greg Herrick, owner of Golden Wings Flying Museum in Blaine, Minn., and president of the Aviation Foundation of America; Mark Jackson, an Appleton college roommate and former BSU tennis player; and Mike Megale, who played tennis with Appleton at Boise State.

Statesman reporters Kathleen Kreller and Brian Murphy contributed.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408

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