News: Then and Now

Stephan's family and friends gathered February 16 to remember and celebrate Stephan's special spirit. Click here to learn more about the memorial service held at the Little Brown Church and the celebration of Stephan's life held at Elliston Vineyards.

To the right are links to news articles on Stephan from before and after he was found. Please click here for the most recent article.

The articles below were written by Stephan's friends to give a closer perspective about the news at that time.

November 23 to 29, 2007
By Solveig and Pat
January 6, 2008

When we look at Steve’s last week in November, we can be assured that he absolutely intended to be with us today. If you were with Steve that week, you know that, but if you weren’t, you might have a longer list of What Ifs than you need to have.

On Sunday, November 23, Neil and Steve bought a red Saab convertible for Steve at the San Leandro Marina Motors. Having a car so exactly attuned to his inner child made Steve deliriously happy. He left this teasing phone message for Solveig:

Red Saab Convertible
“Just wanted to call, let you know I’m not interested in the (your Mom’s) Delta 88 anymore because I bought a ‘99 Saab convertible. And so… Sorry! I won’t be going to Minnesota to pick up that deal of a cahr!”

On Monday morning, Steve drove slowly to Pat’s for his morning coffee, top down, happy for all to see and share in his joy. At Pat’s, Steve shared his plan for getting a surprise car for Neil.

“OK, they have the perfect car for Neil, a red Volvo station wagon, way better than the old station wagon Neil bought from his mother. So if I get the car while he’s away at the school board conference, I hide it until Sunday night and then I sneak it down to the event center.

“I always buy raffle tickets for Neil, he never pays any attention. So when Andrew calls out the raffle winners, I’ll have him call out a phony numbah. Neil will go get the box and come back to the table and ask, ‘So what did I win?”’ and I won’t say anything, just wait for him to open the box, pull out the cahr keys, and then I’ll say, ‘oh WOW, Neil, you got the top prize, didn’t you see it? It’s pahked right out front! Come ON!’ and then I’ll take him outside, and there will be this red Volvo station wagon. Tied up in riiiiiiiib-bons!”

Steve took off to further test his car on the freeway, leave notes with friends about his good fortune, and returned with the trunk and back seat loaded with live trees, greenery, and pine cones and set up his first Christmas decorations for his neighbors, knowing there would be many wreaths to come, once he had collected more greenery.

On Tuesday, Steve picked up Pat for their scheduled visit to thrift stores in pursuit of more raffle tickets items for the SOS Christmas event on Sunday. He had a striped scarf and tied up Pat’s hair. “Come on girl, get your sunglasses on. And as we drive down the road, wave to all the people! Like you’re a celebrity.”

Celebrity Pat

As they were about to drive off, Steve rememberd Pat’s tape of Across the Universe, and dashed back up the steps to get it. And so in tune with the Beatles, Steve and Pat flew through Niles Canyon, top down and heat blasting, to Thrift Town in Hayward, Steve’s favorite. It was a high-energy day of treasure hunting, with lunch at Bronco Billy’s and a quick stop at the dentist’s office to show off the car to Lori.

Wednesday morning, Steve stopped at the neighbors’ house, dressed in his NASA jacket and dress slacks. To Solveig’s “Hey, you’re looking good,” Steve responded, “Yeah, I like to dress the part, I’m goin’ gamblin’. You know my plan. I just KNOW I’m going to get lucky. I know my machine and I know what to do. But I just stopped to check. When I get the Volvo, can I hide it in your garage until Sunday night?”

With that final detail in place, Steve drove off to Rancheria in Jackson with Rob Gronley. On the way, they stopped to see Neil’s neice in Manteca. With Neil at the school board meeting in San Diego, Steve was free to follow through on his plan with no fear that the surprise would be detected. Although Steve didn’t win as much money as he hoped, he was not deterred. He returned to Sunol with his Saab brimming with foot-long sugar pine cones to use for wreaths and for decorating friend’s homes.

On Thursday morning, Steve learned that the red Volvo station wagon had been sold, but he was sure he could find another car in time to surprise Neil. At Zentek, he focused on his commitments for the Sunday Christmas event, searching his storage room for more raffle items and lights for decorating the event center. He had a date with Cindy to do the initial decorating on Saturday afternoon at 1:00, and the lighting was his special responsibility.

That Thursday afternoon, Steve called Pat to report, “I found the coffee pot! So I’ve got it and a bunch of other stuff. I’m loading up the van and I’ll stop by later and leave all this stuff in your back room, ok?”

But it wasn’t to happen. Tom and Alex left work at their regular time, with Steve busily working at his computer or in the storage room. Later that evening, Craig was working on a motor part and was the last to see Steve.

Whatever happened that evening, or in the early hours of Friday, Nov 30, do not fit with the plans Steve had for himself.



Stephan Doyle
News Coverage, But No News Yet
Bree James,
December 19, 2007

There have been many newspaper articles, and a few radio spots and TV news segments reporting that beloved Sunol, California resident Stephan G. Doyle, 47, has gone missing. He disappeared the night of Nov. 29 from Zentek, an engineering firm in Hayward owned by Stephan’s domestic partner of twenty years, Neil Davies. He was last seen by Craig Crosby, also working late at Zentek, at around midnight. Craig was busy in another area of the building until he went to talk to Stephan at 2 a.m. and found him gone. That was three weeks ago, it’s all anybody knows for sure, and many hearts are heavy as a result.

The media coverage highlighted what small bits of information exist about what Stephan was doing – making wreaths and gathering supplies for a community party in Sunol the next evening – and the state of the scene – his and Neil’s adored dogs Komet and Luke left behind, the building unlocked, Stephan’s just-purchased convertible SAAB in the parking lot, the big coffee pot and some holiday decorations loaded into another vehicle (a red delivery van Stephan decorates with lights for the holidays)…all facts pointing to a reality his loved ones find painful to accept: If Stephan had left Zentek of his own accord, he had certainly intended to come right back.

Neil was out of town that night, and when he returned on Friday and Stephan was not at home or at Zentek, he figured his partner had just taken off on a whim – he liked to gamble and might have zipped up to Jackson Rancheria with a friend – but the dogs, the car, the unfinished wreaths, all gave him pause. He started asking around and no one had seen or spoken to Stephan since Thursday night. When time to decorate for Saturday’s party arrived and there was still no sign of Stephan, Neil widened the circle of friends and acquaintances to contact. And he called the Hayward Police, who have been working on the case ever since.

The news stories have also mentioned how much Stephan contributes to the small, close community of Sunol, situated in a beautiful canyon across the ridge from Hayward. He did things in his own way, creative projects and kindnesses that were often big, beautiful, and worked on until the very last possible moment. He touched so many lives, and though he could sometimes be stubborn or rebellious, he was overwhelmingly loved and appreciated by his townspeople.

Stephan is President of the Kilkare Woods Association, a homeowner’s group for Sunolians living in what were the original 105 cabins built as vacation rentals in the early 1900s. Though not on his list of duties, he has always been the sort of fellow his neighbors could call on for almost any type of help. He drives people to doctors’ appointments and to visit with ailing family members, carries groceries and lifts heavy objects, replaces light bulbs and gets kites in the air for local kids. At Christmas time, he has been known to show up at the doors of ill or aging residents with holiday trees or treats to brighten their homes and hearts.

To many people’s surprise, including his own, Stephan recently volunteered to teach Sunday school classes for the youngest members of Sunol’s Little Brown Church, something he had no experience for other than a love of children and a natural gift for creating fun and meaningful projects. His first class was a smashing success, and both the children and their parents looked forward to the classes he was scheduled to teach all during December. When he didn’t show up for the class Dec. 2nd, the children were very disappointed, and everyone at the church that morning became concerned. It just wasn’t like Stephan to let the youngsters down.

And then there’s the Sunol Repertory Company, the town’s melodrama group that has been putting on shows to raise money for Sunol Glen Elementary School and community non-profit groups for over 25 years. For the past 15 years, Stephan has been director, producer and/or star of just about every one of SRTs plays. He sings, dances, convinces as both hero and villain, and often brings the house down with his fearless physical comedy. Stephan is a handsome man, just under 6’ tall, blonde and blue-eyed, tan and toned, but he has never been afraid to make a melodrama scene work by looking ridiculous, pitiful, or vainglorious. Casting for the next play, which Stephan had been chosen to direct, was scheduled for the week after he disappeared. Though many believed he would appear on the stage that night, the acting hopefuls left the school auditorium sadly, wondering if the show could indeed go on without Stephan.

As the days pass and still there are no leads, Sunolians have not been idle. Landy White and Victoria Christian, both active at the Little Brown Church, organized a candlelight vigil for Stephan on Dec. 9th in the town’s community park. Dozens of worried friends and family members holding candles, some wearing glow-stick necklaces and headbands, gathered around the tree where Landy and Mary Conant stood to say a few words of comfort and hope. NBC filmed a segment for the 11 p.m. news and most people left the vigil carrying stacks of flyers and hope that the news coverage and group energy would bring Stephan home soon.

Missing posters have been sent to every casino in California and Nevada, as well as posted by Sunolians and their friends, who have blanketed the East Bay and beyond. Locals have formed search parties to follow up leads from psychics. Neil took Komet and Luke all over the neighborhoods near Zentek, hoping the dogs might sniff out a clue, and he calls Stephan’s mother and stepfather, Nancy and Ed Coughlan, in Massachusetts every day. Monday, Dec 3, was Nancy’s birthday, the first on which she hasn’t received a call or card from Stephan since he was a boy. The Hayward Police Department has assigned two detectives to the case and computers are being searched, phone records combed over and people of interest interviewed and re-interviewed.

As Christmas approaches in a matter of days, the friends and family of Stephan Doyle – and many would say the line is blurred between friends and family when it comes to Stephan – struggle to find joy in their loved ones and hope in their hearts. They know Stephan would want them to decorate - “There’s no such thing as too many lights,” he often said – and eat, drink and be merry, and for him, they’ll do their best.

By Bree K. James

  • Please go to the NEWS heading at this web site for the full texts of representative media coverage.
  • Please print out the MISSING flyer at this site and post it anywhere you can.
  • Please contact the Hayward Police at 510-293-7000 with any information regarding Stephan Doyle’s whereabouts or disappearance. There is a reward for information leading to Stephan’s recovery.
  • Please keep Stephan and his family in your thoughts and prayers.