Friends remember Steve Forsyth, a victim of the ClackamasTown Center shootings, as a dedicated father and devoted youth sports coach who had a special talent for mentoring young athletes.
"He had a really unique way of connecting with them," said Bill Olsen, a father of an athlete Forsyth coached. "Sometimes as a father, son, you're trying to connect with your teenager and it doesn't always work. And Steve always had a way to break down that barrier and connect with them in a really meaningful way."
On Friday, a group of young athletes coached by Forsyth gathered with their parents to share stories and memories of their time with him.
Forsyth applied the mental and physical skills he learned in martial arts to coaching youth football, basketball and lacrosse in West Linn.
"He never really had anything negative to say," said Hunter Johnson, one of the young athletes. "He was always encouraging you, coaching you up."
"He taught me that being the littlest lineman on the team didn't matter," Parker Warren said.
The young athletes also recalled good times spent with Forsyth and his son, their teammate, Alex.
"He always sang, danced, tried to make jokes," said Braden Olsen, a young athlete. "I remember one time we burned a pancake because we were messing around."
"He was just being like a big kid. Boogie boarding with us. Attempting to long board with us," Mitchell Johnson said.
Forsyth also developed a close friendship with the fathers of the young athletes he coached.
"Steve was one of those guys you not only cherished as a friend, but as a parent that you could drop your kids with," said Dave Johnson, who coached with Forsyth. "You felt very comfortable. It was kind of like an extension of your family."
Forsyth, his friends said, was energetic and focused on the bright side of life.
He taught their children to focus not on winning and losing, but on improving and working together.
He was an active father, they said, always engaging his children through sports and activities. He was so enthusiastic, he once joined his kids at a trampoline park and broke his leg.
"There was no agenda. And it wasn't so much that he was looking to make a positive impact," said Ariel Nadel. "That's just who he was, how he lived."
Forsyth took the most recent season off from coaching in order to watch his son play. He volunteered to film many of the games and delivered spirited commentary from behind the camera.
On Friday, the group gathered around to watch some of the highlights, smiling and laughing as they heard Forsyth's cheers at the end of the championship game, which West Linn won.
"Sixty years, you're going to remember this," he told the kids from behind the camera. "Stay classy everyone, stay classy."
Forsyth, a married father of two, was launching a new business at Clackamas Town Center, selling customized wood coasters at a kiosk. Tuesday was his first day.
A memorial service is planned Monday, Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m. at Rolling Hills Church in Tualatin.
A fund for his family is set up at Pacific West Bank under the name "Forsyth Family Assistance Fund."
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