1/17/1924 – 3/18/2014
Born in Winona, Minn. on Jan. 17, 1924, Steve was the youngest of six children born to William and Grace (Atwood) Ctibor. Steve passed away on March 18, 2014. His last day on earth was filled with an afternoon of music and song attending a St. Patrick’s Day program at Santa Barbara Convalescent Hospital where he was recovering from heart surgery. It was a most wonderful way for this lifelong entertainer to pass through his last day, singing Irish songs with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. As Steve would put it, he had a lifelong “love affair” with music that began at an early age surrounded by a family of music makers: an uncle who was a traveling carnival musician, an aunt who lived with Steve’s family and played piano and his mother who loved Polka music and dancing. Later on, Steve was mentored by his high school music teacher and bandleader, Mr. Harold Edstrom, who was the innovator of the “Pointer System” for piano. Steve played trombone in the Winona High School Band. He also learned to play drums and string base. Later, he became a professional vocalist and bandleader at the Stardust Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. While still in high school, Steve had the distinct honor of being hired to play with Louis Armstrong’s Dixieland Band aboard the Mississippi River Excursion Boats. Throughout life, he shared his love of music, performing as an emcee, musician, dancer and singer on stages, in bands, church services, weddings, birthdays, ballrooms, senior clubs, convalescent hospitals—wherever he could ‘lift spirits’ and spread good cheer.
After graduating, Steve entered the Marine Corps in May 1942 and was honorably discharged in Dec., 1945. During his years of service, he was assigned to the First Marine Division, taking him into combat on Guadalcanal Island; he later participated as an amphibious tractor driver in landings on the Marshall Islands, Pelilu, Guam and Okinawa. Even during the tumultuous war years, Steve continued to make music, playing in the Marine Corps Band while stationed in San Diego during the first part of his enlistment. When he was on liberty while in San Diego, he sat in with such famous Big Bands as Les Brown and Tommy Dorsey along with the Dick Jergens orchestra. One of Steve’s fondest memories from those years in San Diego was to sing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as the featured soloist backed by a 50 voice choir on national radio and heard by his parents in Minnesota.
After World War II, Steve moved to California where he resumed his musical career, playing with bands all over the state, finally settling in Whittier in 1949 where he married and started a family which eventually included two sons, Bruce and Gary, and a daughter, Cheryl, who was born on his birthday. During that time, Steve became the choir director for The Whittier Methodist Church with Tennessee Ernie Ford as a member of his choir. For the first 10 years after WWII, Steve earned his living and subsidized his musical endeavors by owning and operating a printing shop, a trade he had learned from his father who was a graphic arts tradesman. The family later moved to Modesto where he operated printing plants until 1970. Steve then made another “quantum leap,” moving from California to Kansas. There, he became co-owner of a large trucking company that included 48 trucks traveling throughout the U.S. While still in Wichita, Kansas, Steve expanded his business by adding two restaurants, and as owner/manager he enjoyed the variety of being back in the “meet and greet” people business working in restaurants afforded him—he also liked dabbling in the kitchen, creating tasty new dishes to add to the menu. When the lure of the west once again called him, he sold his trucking and restaurant businesses and accepted a position as regional director for the National AutoFingers Company. He was once again “on the road,” traveling throughout seven western states and servicing 40 car dealerships.
In 1985, Steve and his wife, Leona, “retired” in Shell Beach, Calif. where Steve became president of the Central Coast Senior Citizens Club in Oceano. His volunteer work there was given recognition from President George Bush. He set up entertaining and educational programs and social activities for the senior members, including trips, weekly bingo, potlucks, holiday parties and speakers. He was awarded “Senior of the Year” in 1990 for his outstanding work with the Oceano Improvement Association.
Finally, in 1995, he moved to Carpinteria where he once again found numerous ways to make contributions, sharing his time and talents, always willing to lend a helping hand wherever needed. He joined the Carpinteria Senior Citizens Club. He went on to serve as their President in 2002 and for the following 10 years served as the club’s Travel Director, organizing monthly trips to a variety of places: Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Hollywood Park, Palm Springs, Magic Castle and Classic Car Museum, to name a few. With his sparkling personality, wonderful wit and dedication to planning fun and interesting travel experiences for seniors, Steve got the word out about all the “fun-raising trips” and the club’s membership increased to over 250 active members. In addition to organizing trips, Steve was “instrumental” in planning and performing in lively entertainment programs over the next 12 years.
Among his many accomplishments, he attained a 32nd degree honor as a Mason and the rank of Commander of the VFW and American Legion Posts.
Steve is survived by his long time, onstage and offstage partner and forever friend, Jeanna Boyd; his three children, Bruce, Gary and Cheryl; his grandchildren, Jacleen (Josh) and Kyle; his great-grandchildren Joran and Josie, nieces and nephews, and many, many lifelong friends.
Steve packed a lot of living and giving into 90 years; leaving a trail of treasured memories, uplifted spirits, and gratitude for the special gift he was in our lives. With his close personal relationship with God, his gift of musical ministry, acts of kindness and compassion, he was truly an emissary of Light and Love. His life’s message will continue to bless us and remain in our hearts forever. He will always be our “Sunshine Man,” inspiring us to appreciate the gift of life God has given each one of us.
A service to celebrate Steve’s amazing life will be held at the First Baptist Church, where he is a member, located at 5026 Foothill Road, Carpinteria, Calif. A reception will follow at the Fellowship Hall next to the chapel. The family would be grateful for remembrances in Steve’s name made to “Cold Noses, Warm Hearts Dog Rescue,” 5758 Hollister Ave., Goleta, CA 93117