Wednesday would have been Steven F. Kane’s 58th birthday. But instead of marking the day with gifts and celebration, Kane’s family and friends are gathering with broken hearts for his funeral.
Kane, a Brightwaters resident, lost his life last week when he was struck down while cycling by a man charged with driving high on methadone and without a license with four children in the car on Route 25 in Calverton.
Kane’s family, friends, and colleagues are suffering deeply over his sudden loss -- but together, they have banded together to share memories of the man they loved -- and to pay tribute in celebration of his extraordinary life.
“My father loved his family tremendously,” said Susan Kane Smith, one of Kane’s twin daughters. “My sister and I have always known him as our goofy dad. We would tease my mom, make funny faces, and sometimes have a marathon of movies on a rainy weekend. He worked very hard so that we could have a worry free life."
Kane Smith described her father, who worked as a safety manager at Brookhaven Natural Laboratory, as a man whose guiding mission in life was to care for his family.
When she and her husband bought their first house, Kane Smith said, her father “took one look at our porch door and decided that it wasn't fit to last through the winter. He then proceeded to convince my husband and brother-in-law to rip it out of the side of our house and replace it that same weekend. The week after that, using similar powers of persuasion, we tore down and replaced the damaged outer wall of our laundry room. After that it became a joke that he would create new holes in the house with every visit. And sometimes he did. But that just showed that nothing could stop him from taking care of his girls.”
Kane’s father, Ronald, remembered his son’s intelligence and acoomplishments, including an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy, and athletic prowess in sports including football, lacrosse, wrestling, and cycling.
“Steve was my firstborn and grew up being the older brother to four sisters and two brothers,” he said. “Steven set the mark for his brothers who followed him. Competiveness is a byword in our family and evinced by Steve's involvement in competitive bicycle sports, where he set several records in his age group. It was his dedication to the sport that had him on the road that Thursday afternoon.”
His son, Kane said, was “a beloved son, brother, husband, father and most recently a grandfather.”
Kane was “always willing to lend a helping hand,” whether it be in painting a house, tutoring in math, or coaching wrestling.
An auto buff, Kane said his son built his first hot rod, a 1960 Triumph TR 3A with a Corvette drivetrain, at 14 years old.
His two daughters raised, Kane said his son and his wife Barbara, married 36 years, had two granddaughters and “were enjoying the fruits of their labors and looking forward to retirement when he was struck down.” His father expressed outrage at the driver of the car that hit his son.
"Our family will follow this individual's trial to express our pain caused by this accident -- an accident that would never have happened if he had remained in jail until his addiction problem had been cured. Hopefully, he will be sentenced to serve many years in prison where he can get his treatment and not be allowed freedom unless and until he can contribute something to society," he said.
Kane’s daughter, Carol Pascino, remembers a father who was dedicated and loving, who taught her and her sister to work hard and be responsible for their actions.
“We loved him so much,” she said.
After college, when his daughters married, Pascino said the bond with their father grew even stronger. “We built up our tradition to make Christmas cookies together every year. He grew very close with my husband Michael, who thinks of him as a mentor and fellow trouble-maker,” she said. “This year, my sister and I each had baby girls. Every time he saw them we could see the love and pride he had for them -- and for us. My daughter had a fever at 10 days old and stayed in the hospital for several days.” Her father, Pascino said, held the baby for hours.
“He is the very best of men and we are truly heartbroken to lose him,” she said.
Kane's broken-hearted wife Barbara remembered her husband as a a devoted family man. “He would jump to help any of us in a heartbeat,” she said. “He was a man of few words, but we all knew he would be there for us.”
Barbara Kane said her brother was quiet, and at boisterous family gatherings, he would love to stand back and watch his family. “He was extremely bright," and loved math, she added.
A deeply religous man, Kane said her brother had been attending services at St. Peter’s By the Sea since he was a baby.
Remembering Kane, his sister said, "He was the perfect big brother, intimidating boyfriends that came to the door, always the protector.”
Cycling, Kane said, was her brother’s passion. “When we went on family vacations together he would ship his bike to where ever we were. The family would go out sightseeing and he would go for a three-hour ride. It could have been 110 degrees out and he would ride. We’d pass him and yell things to him and he’d stick out his tongue,” she said.
A close-knit family, the seven siblings lost their mother when she was 57. Kane remembered sailing with her brothers and sisters on the Great South Bay, boogie boarding for hours. “Steven loved to make the family Sunday brunch,” she said. “He was a great cook.”
A man with a very dry sense of humor, Kane said her brother put family first. “He loved his wife, kids and grandbabies so much,” she said. “He was very proud of his family.”
Kane’s sister Suzanne said her brother’s tragic loss will be felt deeply by his wife and daughters, siblings, 13 nieces and nephews and countless friends and co-workers. “I cannot put my loss or grief into words. This man's life mattered to many and the ripple of his loss will be felt for years to come.”
Carole Stevens, Kane’s sister, said she is reminded of William Wordsworth’s poem, “We Are Seven,” which involves a little girl telling an older gentlemen that there are seven children in her family, even though two have died.
“And so it is with the Kane Seven,” Stevens said. “We are seven.”
Her brother, Stevens said, was the first of seven. “He was a protector, teacher and a motivator,” she said. The two share a “healthy competition” for education. “There is not a doubt in my mind that I would not be an engineer today if it wasn't for Steven telling me I couldn’t do it,” she said. “He taught me weak from strong.”
As the older brother, Stevens said Kane helped to shape all of the siblings. “He taught me right from wrong,” she said.
Despite unthinkable tragedy, Stevens said, “We are seven. Ours is a strong family unit that has defied the laws of physics. A link has been removed and we have only become stronger. This tragedy is overwhelming for all parties.”
Michael Kane said his big brother Steven was the “older brother that every younger brother needed. He was smarter, stronger and more experienced in many ways. If I was picked on or threatened in any way he was there, protecting me. As we grew older he was the security blanket that was always there. If I needed to tackle a complicated job on the house or car it was always in the back of my mind that if I couldn't fix it he was there to do it right.”
The brothers shared snowboarding trips across the United States, biked and trained together. “He was still training on the day he was killed getting ready for the cyclocross world being held in Kentucky this coming January,” he said.
Laurie Kane, MD, Steven's sister, said her whole family feels it is critical that people understand what a life-altering impact getting behind the wheel while impaired can have on so many.
“Steven and I particularly had a very special relationship. We just ‘got’ each other. We could sit next to each other and communicate without talking,” she said.
A quiet, caring, and spiritual person, Kane said Steven was “my brother, my substitute father, my protector, my guardian. His death has devastated our family.”
A wake for Steven Kane will take place on Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Chapey’s Funeral Home, 1225 Montauk Highway, in West Islip, NY.
Funeral services will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 500 South Country Road, Bay Shore, NY. Cremation to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Steven Kane’s name to Livestrong.
Editor's Note: As an unprecedented number of tributes and memories came pouring in to celebrate Steven Kane's life, a second story will follow on Thursday, with words from his colleagues and cycling comrades.