November 4, 1947 ~ November 3, 2021
Stewart John Saugstad, “Stu”, born in Red Lodge, Montana on November 4, 1947, passed away on November 3, 2021 in Hughson, California. He had a wonderful childhood in Montana where he grew up in the mountains near Yellowstone National Park. Stewart and his brothers, Kim and Robert, spent their younger years sledding and biking down the hill from their house to school and exploring the outdoors. His parents, Alfred and Ruth, moved the family to Turlock, California in 1958 where he lived for 63 years. Stewart graduated from Turlock High School, class of 1965, and went on to college at Cal Lutheran; then transferred to UC Santa Barbara where he graduated with degrees in History and Russian Studies hoping to become a news reporter.
He met Diana Bowman in November 1976 playing volleyball at Modesto Junior College. They married in June 1977 in the backyard of their Turlock home. In May 1978, their daughter Amanda Saugstad was born. They spent family vacations camping at Lumsden Bridge and the Northern Redwoods, attending the Laguna Seca motorcycle races, the Strawberry Music Festival and traveling with his softball team. Stewart loved teaching Amanda about music, motorcycles, fishing, sports and in fact, by age 8, made sure Amanda knew how to keep score at every SF Giants game they ever went to.
Stewart met Jo Sokolo at a 4th of July party in 1989 and they married June 4, 1996 in a friend’s backyard. They shared many memories together including skiing, dancing, going on motorcycle trips, and notably, their anniversary trip to Tonapah, NV. Jo loved to watch Stewart work his magic with stone at Turlock Marble and Granite. One of Stewart’s fondest memories was going into the foothills with Jo and his mother Ruth to decorate a tree for Christmas for all to enjoy.
Stewart loved being outdoors and his love for music was infectious to those around him. He’d spend his Sunday’s listening to John Prine, Guy Clark, and Gram Parsons. According to him, they were the best songwriters that ever lived. He loved riding motorcycles through the backroads of CA, stopping at saloons, fishing holes, and talking to the locals. He was an amazing short story writer, a reader, a poet and a hit on any dance floor. He played softball for over 30 years and made lifelong friends on his team the Dead Cows. He owned Turlock Marble and Granite for over 20 years and was an incredible stonecutter and artist. Stewart was a member of the City of Turlock Planning Commission and spent over 20 years in Friday AM Kiwanis. You could find him in downtown Turlock winning Trivia Nights and making friends from all walks of life. He loved talking about the San Francisco Giants, politics, fishing, immigration policy, and motorcycles. He didn’t know how to have a surface conversation and if you spent more than 5 minutes with Stewart, he’d always have a good story for you.
Stewart was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Ruth Saugstad and his brother Kim Saugstad. Stewart is survived by his wife Jo Sokolo, two daughters, Amanda Saugstad and Jody Schmitz, his daughter in law, Lindsey Saugstad, Amanda’s mother Diana Bowman, his brother Robert Saugstad, his sisters-in-law Julie Saugstad and Jane Taylor and nephews Andy Saugstad and Taylor Saugstad.
In lieu of flowers, the family would be honored if you would like to donate in Stu’s memory to the Yosemite Conservancy or the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock.
There will be a Celebration of Life at 4pm on December 4, 2021 at Alegria Performing Arts Academy (the old Dean’s Floral) in Turlock, California. Dinner and music to follow.