Stevens Van Strum

Stevens (Steve Van Strum) died March 19, 2021 at 81 of a stroke.

Steve’s love of books and passion for the arts and for environmental justice were legendary. As co-owner and manager of Cody’s Bookstore in Berkeley; as co-founder of Oyez Press, which solicited poems from noteworthy American poets to be published in a series of broadsides, effectively pioneering this publishing medium for poetry. This initial series consisted of ten broadsides, by such poets as William Everson (Brother Antoninus ), Gary Snyder, Charles Olson, Michael McClure, and others, and as co-founder of Hulogosi Communications which published Hal Hartzell’s books on the Hoedads’ Cooperative and Yew Tree. He was always willing to support creative projects. More recently he designed and published his composer friend Don Cobb’s series of songs and accompanying website.

He married Carol Scott and had five children, Anna, Daphne, Alexey, Juris, and Benjamin. In 1969 they moved to Oregon and settled in the foothills near Tidewater. When the children were sickened with the herbicide sprayed by the Forest Service, they and neighbors co-founded Citizens Against Toxic Sprays, (CATS) and successfully sued the U.S. Forest Service to stop spraying Agent Orange onto Oregon forests and homesteads. Following this, they spent 6 years as key players in the U.S. EPA’s effort to ban 2,4,5-T, the toxic key ingredient in Agent Orange.

Steve separated from Carol, but they remained in close contact. Tragically, their four living children died in a fire at Five Rivers in 1978.

Subsequently, he moved to Eugene. At each home, he planted trees and large vegetable gardens whose produce he shared with friends and institutions. He would spend summers in Maine and often winters in Hawaii
Born in New York, April 19, 1939, Steve was the only son of Kenneth S. Van Strum and Anna Cecilia Zimmermann. His earliest years were spent in Laurel Hollow, Long Island while his father commuted to NYC. A war-time victory garden stimulated a life-long passion for gardening.

Together with his 2 older sisters, the family moved to Santa Barbara and to San Francisco in 1950. Early passions were fishing and hunting.

He was educated at the Thatcher School with emphasis in music and classics. At Yale and the University of California, Berkeley and Southern California, he became a lifelong avid reader described by friends as the most literate person they ever knew.
His last 7 years were spent in a bright, book-filled apartment in Eugene, reading, listening to music, viewing films, writing blogs, and meeting with his closest friends.

He is deeply missed by all who knew him for his generosity, photographic memory, cornucopian knowledge, love of books, horticulture, music, and food. He is survived by his sister, Cecilia Van Strum Nobel, and by Carol Van Strum who still lives in Five Rivers.