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UPDATE: Beloved Wellington photographer Steve Sturgis dies Tuesday morning

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 10:37 PM CST
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WELLINGTON, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Jan. 25: In a tweet posted Tuesday afternoon, Wellington athletic director Luke Smith said that Sturgis died Tuesday morning.

WELLINGTON, Kan. (KWCH) - On the sidelines or in the hallways at Wellington High School, no matter the event, there was one constant: Steve Sturgis, taking in the next memory through his lens.

“You asked him to be somewhere and the answer was always ‘yep, I can make time for that.’ There was never an excuse. He would be there,” said Wellington High School senior Mikayla Elmore.

A cancer diagnosis last week would change what the Crusaders have known for years. The sickness has rapidly spread and Sturgis is in hospice care.

“It progresses so fast, just shock. You can’t believe it and you don’t get those answers as to why, but eventually, we will,” said Wellington Activities Director Luke Smith.

In the meantime, the town has come together for someone they say has given so much. More than 150 people showed up at Wellington High School for a candlelight vigil Friday night in honor of Sturgis.

“The impact Steve has left on this community has been huge,” said Wellington High School senior Jace Barton. “The shoes he is going to leave behind are going to be something I don’t think will be able to be filled.”

More than photos or video, it’s the relationships that Sturgis built over time that students say will last, some of which were built through photos and life lessons.

“He would make it a point to go to everything. Choir or band concerts and all of the plays that happened, debate team. He literally covered every single activity that happened in this school,” Wellington High School junior Jaxson Irey said.

Those who spoke about Sturgis say that legacy will continue through the extensive archives on his website and even the scholarship fund Sturgis set up to help graduating seniors get a laptop for college. Most importantly, they remember the way Sturgis made them feel.

“Steve Sturgis really defines Wellington. He is the ‘Mr. Crusader’ that we all know and love,” Irey said.

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