Tributes to Stephen P. Dresch

Stephen Dresch touched the lives of countless individuals. He had a deep and positive impact on all who knew him. Many have expressed a desire to share words of tribute or rememberances of Stephen. Some of these are posted below. Friends, colleagues and others whose lives were touched by Stephen Dresch may send tributes and brief memoirs to (May be edited for length and content.)

Stephen Dresch was a delight - smart, articulate and courageous. We were in the legislature at the same time and it was wonderful to see him in action. He always knew what he was talking about; he was always well prepared for debate; best of all, he was never intimidated by his opponents. I shall miss him and I will never forget him.

Margaret O'Connor
(Margaret O'Connor served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1983 to 1992, and was a founder of the limited government movement in Michigan.)

I’ve met a lot of people in the course of 25 years doing this grubby business. Stephen was one of the few who made it really worth the effort.

Dawson Bell
Reporter, Detroit Free Press (Lansing Bureau)

Steve earned his doctorate in economics from one of the nation's elite schools (Yale), and was later affiliated with the profession's most prestigious nonprofit research group, the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge. Yet Steve was very humble in his pursuit of the truth, whether in economics or when analyzing the actions of government. He was the wise man described in Proverbs (15:14). Steve had the patience of a good parent who always found time to listen, and the questions he asked led us up the mountain where answers are found.

Steve was the most underrated legislator to serve in the Michigan House in my lifetime.

Greg Kaza
Executive Director
Arkansas Policy Foundation
Little Rock
(Greg Kaza was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1993 to 1999.)

Stephen Dresch was one of two truly great men I have known in my life. The other was Joe Overton. When Joe died his dear friend and colleague Larry Reed described his life with an analogy that also fits Stephen perfectly: We were visited by an angel. Here is an excerpt, with slight modifications:

"Did you ever have a sense that there was something very special about this man, something a little more than ordinary? That perhaps you were in the presence of greatness, even? Did you ever feel that something about Stephen raised your standards and made you want to put your best foot forward? You know what I mean, don’t you?! It's a rare and extraordinary thing to feel that way about somebody. Stephen made a lot of people better people."

My association with Stephen Dresch changed my life profoundly, and led directly to my current career as a public policy professional. The world has lost a true hero in the never ending struggle for liberty.

Jack McHugh
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Dr. Dresch was a true intellectual and one the few honest men I came to know in my life. I lived in America for over ten years, but never found a person more intelligent, generous, and higher moral and ethical values. I considered him my teacher, mentor and friend, even though I was formally just his student. He had taught me a great deal about philosophy and understanding of life. Even in my day to day work routine to this date I use the philosophy he had taught me.

I will always cherish what he taught me. His loss is not just limited to his family, but to every single person who came to know him. I am shocked and grieved at his sudden demise. Thousands of miles away, here in Pakistan, every one who knows me has heard of him, because when anyone compliments me on my scholarly or intellectual achievement- I always say that I have learned my basics from this unique individual and a genius I met in the UP.

I will not weep for Dr. Dresch, because he was too good for this material world. He belonged at a better place with his Creator. May Allah forgive any and all of his and our mistakes, and grant him place in heaven. Amen.

With condolences and heart full of sorrow,

Stephen Dresch's Friend,

Jamal Nazir
M.P.A., J.D., LL.M

Stephen Dresch was a terrific man and scholar. I have long been particularly struck by the dignity that he afforded those with whom he came into contact. Moreover, he was as excited about the economic science today as he was decades after earning his Ph.D in that subject. His enthusiasm rubbed off on others, especially his students.

His charm and wry wit will be sorely missed.

Rest in peace,
Michael LaFaive
Mackinac Center

It was in 1973 and Stephen Dresch was running a small group called Research in the Economics of Higher Education (REHE), when we first met. I was new to New Haven and I interviewed with Steve for a job. By time he called me back, I had accepted a position with another faculty member at Yale. Undaunted, Dresch did a bit of research and found out that, although the other faculty member promised me an ongoing position, the funding would only last for a couple of months. Even back then, Stephen was determined to get at the truth. He hired me and it was the beginning of a decade-long collaboration.

Steve had a great mind. It was not confined within the normal boundaries. Many scholars focus on a narrow set of issues, but his interests were broad. He never shied away from an intellectual exchange of ideas, and he often like to provoke others into thinking differently than they would ordinarily. His mind was agile and he liked apply ideas and concepts of one domain into other areas.

When REHE had run its course, Steve formed the Institute for Demographic and Economic Studies (IDES). It was largely funded by government grants. It expanded from considering policy issue in higher education to model health care usage and a broad set of intellectual issues. The organization grew to a staff of more than a dozen employees, with Stephen as the guiding force. It was during this time in New Haven that A. Quermit Jhéön (a curmudgeon) was born, along with Steve's youngest son, Karl.

To me, Stephen was a mentor and a unique force that helped shape my career. His recommendation helped me begin my career at Northwestern in 1983. In the ten years we worked together, I saw him as a researcher, a public intellectual, a husband, and a father. In all those roles, Stephen was always the same. He did not change personalities to suit people or occasions. He will be greatly missed by those whose lives he touched and changed.

Adair L. Waldenberg
Northwestern University

In memory of Stephen Dresch, one of the finest individuals I ever met.

Just when I thought I had seen the best and brightest, Stephen Dresch walked into my life a good decade, or more, ago. I had retired from the US Department of State, was living in New York and working at the United Nations. Stephen wanted my help with a sensitive and profoundly important case. Over coffee, I quickly sized him up as someone to be reckoned with, that his mission was important and even consequential to national security. I agreed to help; we’ve been helping each other since.

From that one meeting, I came to know a man who was a real man. He was genuine. I marveled at his intellect. We collaborated on several projects and cases, and from time-to-time, I was able to use his truly incredulous capacity to dig up information. His curiosity was insatiable, and yet he was not a know-it-all. I liked to believe our minds were in sync, but deep down I knew he was miles ahead of me. I came to learn more from Stephen than I possibly ever have from anyone else. I often prodded him to “let’s go into business…make a mint”. He was not interested in the mint. He knew who he was, what he was about, and he helped me find my compass. He truly knew right from wrong, but he was not self-righteous.

Stephen worked behind-the-scenes to make things better for us all. He brought to account those who needed to be brought to account. In this context, Stephen has had many superb accomplishments but many of his accomplishments will and must remain secret. He dealt, in his own fashion, at the very highest levels of government and was recognized as someone deeply concerned when this nation’s path veered or our tolerance teetered. We owe Stephen a great deal.

Ray Baysden

Stephen and I worked closely together for the last eight years. It was a delight to work with such a brilliant man with a golden heart. He touched our lives like no other. He also was like a father to me, and my children absolutely loved him. My daughter Brandie, who is now 20 years old, said to me with a shaky voice, “Mom it seems like this world has just become a little more ignorant without Stephen here.” That is the truth.

So many people today with the scholarly minds that Stephen had do not take the time to listen or even care about the less fortunate. But that was never Stephen. He cared about everyone and he never ever treated anyone in a demeaning manner, no matter their economic or intellectual status. He was kind to everyone, and to simply just be in his presence was a true honor.

My adventures with Stephen have been exciting, challenging, tiring, but a wonderful experience. I know he loved every moment of it, and thrived on this work. If those saddened by his loss only could have seen the sparkle in his eyes as we proved time and time again that we would get to the bottom of the public corruption cases we worked on. We can all take comfort in knowing that he lived an exciting, adventurous, and sometimes pretty dangerous life, and one he felt fulfilled in accomplishing. We accomplished so much without the backing or support of any government entity, and we did it not with "conspiracy" themes, but with rock solid intelligence. These accomplishments were extensive - the Brooklyn District Attorney said of our work that it exposed the worst case of corruption by the FBI in U.S. history.

Stephen, I am so very proud to have had you by my side and I will miss you immensely.

Angela Clemente
(Ms. Clemente is a forensic investigator who worked extensively with Stephen Dresch.)

There are rare times in our lives that we are blessed by people who are so special that we are happier just because we know them. Stephen Dresch was without a doubt one of those special people.

I worked for the legislature for 22 years, and was delighted that my final appointment was with Stephen. Before then, I had the opportunity to be surrounded by a wide variety of lawmakers. Stephen was incomparable, and a true maverick. His tireless dedication to simply "do the right thing" was paramount in his character.

Stephen was a complete "straight-shooter;" a true statesman and never a self-serving politician. He was hard-driving, talented, articulate, and irrepressible, and he worked to pursue the truth in every situation. Stephen always fought for the rights of others, from college students shortchanged by the corruption he uncovered in the Ventures scandal at our beloved Michigan Tech, or individual land owners whose property rights were threatened. He took on the DNR bureaucracy, and even the governor himself, as well as the federal government in countless cases of questionable policies and practices. In innumerable causes he strove to uncover the truth with an indefatigable drive to find the source of wrong-doing. His numerous dealings in more recent years to bring to justice Mafia characters all exemplify his unwavering integrity. Stephen Dresch risked his reputation, his finances and even his life pursuing and weeding out injustices and evil deeds.

Working with Stephen, I quickly learned the deepest source of his strength. One morning after he took office, I came to work two hours early. Stephen was already at his desk reading the Bible. I told him how pleased I was to have a boss who read the Scriptures and his reply was, "Ah, yes, how better can one start one's day?" Legislative sessions begin with a prayer. Stephen was often asked to lead these because of his eloquence and deep sincerity.

One of my fondest memories is that whenever he left work Stephen would cheerfully depart saying, "Carry on!" In our last conversation I assured him that we will indeed attempt to carry one with his example of steadfastness and faithfulness.

Stephen's solid principles and sterling character leave a legacy to all of us who loved him deeply. I consider myself fortunate, thankful and blessed to have had the privilege to work with and be a friend to this great man. He is a hero to me and to many others. I know we'll meet again in a better place . . .

Fayth Wolfe
(Fayth Wolfe was Stephen Dresch's legislative aide in the Michigan House of Representatives.)

I was acquainted with "Steve" Dresch for approximately 55-60 years. (I can tell you that his mother strongly disapproved of the use of "Steve" instead of Stephan, his given name - by her choice no doubt.) We were often together during the early 1960's during protests and demonstrations concerning Civil Rights and the Viet Nam War. We have consumed many liters of wine and beer, and many kilograms of good bread and cheese in Good Company! We stayed in touch as our lives took us in different directions.

Steve dedicated his life to Knowledge, Freedom from Ignorance, and the Defense of our Constitution which protects everyone of us. I feel privileged to have known Steve and his extended family. To have shared so many common experiences, beliefs and revelations about the world we live in was certainly intellectually expanding. I am a Chemist/Mass Spectrometrist, and not an Economist or Evangelist, and the relationship was revelatory and I hope mutually rewarding.

To be a bit Deological, I would like to say that "We are all God's Children," and that Steve was an exemplary example of that ideology. He cared about all people, not just "fat cats" who take from the poor to give to the rich.

Jim Lehman
Tempe, Arizona

Tribute to Stephen P. Dresch, my dear friend and leader

I met Stephen Dresch for the first time in December, 1983, at a scientific conference in Budapest, Hungary. He came from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria, and I came from the Wroclaw University of Technology in Wroclaw, Poland. At that time I didn’t realize that this would be a turning point in my academic career, and the beginning of a new experience for my family. Thanks to Stephen’s moral support and guidance we became citizens of the U. S.

Right from the start of our acquaintance I have been continuously impressed by Stephen’s intellectual capabilities, breadth of knowledge, personal courage and, above all, his profoundly patriotic attachment to the ideals of the American Revolution. I will forever remember the stimulating discussions with Stephen ranging in their scope from philosophy to economics and politics.

His rigorous adherence to moral principles made him a Great American whose ideas will stay with us for ever. We will miss him but we should remember what Horace wrote: Non omnis moriar (not wholly die).

Karol I. Pelc
Professor Emeritus, Michigan Technological University
Hancock, Michigan

Journal of the Michigan House of Representatives, August 9, 2006, No. 71

The Speaker, on behalf of the entire membership of the House of Representatives, offered the following resolution:

House Resolution No. 296.

A resolution offered as a memorial for the Honorable Stephen P. Dresch.

Whereas, It is with the utmost sorrow that the members of the Michigan House of Representatives mourn the passing of Stephen P. Dresch, a former member of the House, and an individual known for his strength of character and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Indeed, as a champion of individual liberties, property rights, and social justice, Stephen Dresch exemplified the independent spirit and the stalwart soul of the Upper Peninsula. He will be deeply missed; and

Whereas, Stephen Dresch was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, graduated from Miami University in Ohio, and received his Ph.D in economics from Yale. He engaged in research and lecturing in economics in a number of exotic locales, including Austria and the former Soviet Union, and went on to become the dean of business and economics at Michigan Technological University where he gained fame as a fighter against corruption and injustice; and

Whereas, Elected to the House of Representatives in 1990, Stephen Dresch served the institution of the House as a member of the Civil Rights, Constitution and Women’s Issues Committee; the Committee on Marine Affairs and Port Development; the Committee on Transportation; and the Social Services and Youth Committee. In these, and in all of his work on behalf of the people of Michigan, he served with the utmost distinction and honor. There could be no finer testimony to his true spirit of public service and genuine warmth of heart; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, That a unanimous accolade of tribute be extended to honor the memory of Stephen P. Dresch; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to his wife, Linda; their children Soren, Stephanie, Phaedra, and Karl; and their four grandchildren as evidence of our deepest condolences. The question being on the adoption of the resolution,

The resolution was adopted by unanimous standing vote.

I am sad to hear the news of the passing away of Prof. Dresch. He was a unique man, and one of the most ecumenically talented professors I was to know during my eight year at Michigan Tech, even though he had moved more into politicing during my later years. I was glad for that, because he had a good view of “the way things should be.” And, by God, he was right. You know, he’s never really gone when his words and thoughts are still so clear in my head. That was a good gift to give the world. My condolences to his family.

Bill Burns
(formerly) Business Admininstration, Forestry
Michigan Technological University

My name is Bob Coen, I’m a filmmaker based in New York City, and fate brought me into the world of Stephen Dresch about four years ago. A chance meeting over the internet developed into the most important working relationship of my career and a deep friendship with a remarkable man.

Dresch, while I did call him Steve he will always live as Dresch to me, Dresch and I worked together on a documentary film, hence the camera here today.

I was filming Dresch at his last public appearance a few months ago – at the Houghton Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner where he was invited to speak, and overheard is someone saying:

“That Dresch was always something of a press hound.”

The reality is that it was journalists and those interested in truth who were drawn to Dresch. Somehow we sensed that he was the real thing – a true truthseeker.

In film they say the camera never lies. Well the camera loved Dresch. He was a real original that even the best Hollywood screenwriters could never invent.

The film we were making together deals with a very dark subject – an investigation into an international bio-weapons conspiracy. Dresch was always unafraid to delve where others feared to tread – those places we all know are out there lurking in the shadows but are too afraid to confront.

It was not that Dresch was drawn to darkness but rather his purpose was to find the light.

Soon after meeting Dresch I was inspired to re-read Sherlock Holmes and picked up a copy of “The Hound of the Baskervilles." It was here, in an afterword by the famous mystery writer Anne Perry, that I found a description of Holmes that I think sums up Dresch’s spirit perfectly:

“Life is full of puzzles we cannot solve, dangers we need to fight, yet cannot see clearly enough to know where or how to strike. We need to believe in the Knight Errant who will ride in and do battle for us, with superior knowledge, untiring energy, and ask from us in reward no more than we can give. His existence gives us that bridge of hope sufficient for us to continue until we have begun to win for ourselves.”

Stephen Dresch, you are an example and an inspiration. Your spirit lives on!

Bob Coen

We were saddened to learn of Stephen's death, and share your grief.

May we also share the great pride you and the family have for the remarkable life of Stephen. He was a unique person, dynamic, brilliant, fearless, frank and humorous. All those who were privileged to have know him are the better for the opportunity. And above all countless people here in Connecticut, in Michigan and elsewhere benefited, often unknowingly, from his unceasing fight for truth, clarity and integrity.

I for one enjoyed and benefited from his professional assistance on so many occasions. I will miss him, his good cheer, his wit and his insights. I regret that I never had the opportunity to visit you and Steve up on the Upper Peninsula.

Barbara and I remember Steve in our prayers and you in our thoughts. May God bless you and your family in the days ahead.

Bob and Barbara Oliver

His goodness and courage will live on in those inspired by it.

Sam Sole
South Africa

Stephen Dresch was a mentor and a hero to me. He reminded me of Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln. The last time I spoke with and corresponded with Stephen it was about his speech in the finest Lincoln tradition. I got to tell him how much I appreciated his remarks especially since I am a relative of Nancy Hanks, Lincoln's mother.

Stephen always told me to "Carry On" and not to get down about the evil we faced many times. I assure you, that I will live out the advice of God's gift to me, my mentor, Stephen P. Dresch, for I will indeed Carry On!! I hear Stephen's advice almost ever day in all that I do. Like Christ, Stephen occupies a place in my soul. Stephen looked into Heaven and saw Jesus Christ. Christ lived in Stephen's heart and spirit when he was with us. Now Stephen gets to be with Christ, his reward. I look forward to being with Stephen again and when I do, I fully expect to see him with Christ and Lincoln.

God Bless you and your family, Linda Dresch. Thank you for sharing Stephen with us and for supporting him so valiantly, so faithfully, so lovingly. Patrick B. Briley

I don't have the words to express my feelings after hearing of Stephen's death.

Over the past few years I have repeatedly tried to get together with Steve but to no avail. I remember telling him that if he ever landed in any New York airport I would be pleased to pick him up so that we could talk in person. I even tried luring him with an offer to come to one of my orchestra's concert. Unfortunately, it was never possible. I still remember meeting with him at Yale and how much I enjoyed talking to him about policy matters.

Well, he is no more with us physically. What is left is all the good feelings about a truly exceptional, dedicated and wonderful person. I will truly miss him. A voice for good has been taken from our world at a time when we dearly need such voices.


Stephen was an original. He was enormously helpful to me when he had no motive other than to advance the truth. Would that there were more people like him. This would be a different country.

Jack Cashill
Kansas City author and radio host

Stephen was a favorite of mine for the last part of my reporting career when I was fortunate enough to meet with him at The Courant. I am sorry that we have all lost a rare soldier in the face of corruption near and far!

Dennie Williams
Freelance Writer
Formerly with the Hartford Courant

Waiting in line at the Mackinac Bridge tollbooth last summer, my wife and I noticed that the license plate on the car in front read, "Holy Hug." At the booth the attendant told us, "You're paid for – the car in front paid your toll."

"Wow," we thought, "What a nice gesture." Later we saw "Holy Hug" in the McDonald's parking lot. I walked over and asked the driver, "Why me?"

She smiled and said, "I asked the attendant not to tell!" I tried to repay her but of course she wouldn't accept it. A fellow nearby laughed and told me, "That's my sister in law – she does something like that every day, and usually the person never finds out who his benefactor was."

What does all this have to do with our friend and loved one Stephen Dresch? As I sat listening to the beautiful eulogy at his memorial service, I was reminded of the "Holy Hug" lady: Stephen was a giver, not a taker. Acts of kindness and generosity free of any pretense. The sign of a true humanitarian and a believer in the Golden Rule. Stephen was indeed a Christian, a patriot, and an absolute genius in his actions and regard for his fellow man, which showed a person of the highest caliber and a true statesman. His charity to those seeking advice and help showed compassion, understanding, fairness and a love for the truth, given to all without prejudice or regard for the person's status.

Although he is no longer here for us to confide and converse with, we can "carry on" by trying to treat others as Stephen would. What a legacy!

Oh, for a thousand "Holy Hugs" and a million more of Stephen Dresch!

In All Sincerity,

Don Weiser
Grayling, Michigan