October 11, 2006 by

Steve Medley


Categories: Law, Writers/Editors

Steven P. Medley, an author and naturalist who devoted his life to promoting Yosemite National Park, died on Oct. 5 in a car accident. He was 57.
The Palo Alto, Calif., native earned a bachelor’s degree in film and broadcasting from Stanford University in 1971. That summer, he started working at Yosemite as a park ranger. During subsequent summers, Medley collected camping fees and helped run the park’s library and museum. He even met his future wife, Jane, at Yosemite; the couple wed in 1976.
Medley received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Oregon in 1975, and a law degree from the Martin Luther King, Jr., School of Law at the University of California, Davis six years later. He was a practicing attorney for four years in Oregon, but working at the park was his true passion. So he stepped off the legal path and became the director of the Yosemite Association in 1985.
From that point on, Medley devoted himself to Yosemite — its visitors and its inhabitants. For 21 years, he served as the president of the Yosemite Association, a non-profit organization of 11,000 members that supports the National Park Service. In this capacity, he guided the public on nature walks, pointed out the local flora and fauna and edited/produced more than 50 publications about the park. His guidebook, “The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite,” sold nearly 100,000 copies.
“This is a huge loss for the Yosemite family. In addition to Steve’s innumerable contributions to the park, he was known for his quick wit, dedication and sense of accomplishment,” Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Tollefson said.
Affectionately known as “Smedley,” he liked to complete crossword puzzles in his spare time and hike through the park with his three sons. He was also the president of the Rotary Club of Yosemite National Park.
Medley was driving his 1998 Honda Accord eastbound on Highway 140 in Mariposa County, en route to a Rotary Club meeting, when his car crashed into a tree. The California Highway Patrol said wet, oily road conditions and excessive speed contributed to the crash. No one else was injured and Medley was pronounced dead at the scene. A memorial service is scheduled for Nov. 4. The Yosemite Association plans to produce a small booklet that celebrates Medley’s life to distribute at the event.

4 Responses to Steve Medley

  1. Phyllis Scheffler

    I was in Library School at the U of Oregon with Steve. His sense of humor was rampent in our classes and out. I’ve only seen him once since then, but, unbelievably, this fall I chose a vacation route that let me see him and Jane again, Sept. 30, in Mariposa. We had a wonderful evening catching up with lots of laughter and good stories. How lucky I was. You’ll be missed, Steven Medley.

  2. T Moon

    It was with great sadness that I read of Steve Medley’s death in the November Yosemite Association newsletter.
    Steve Medley had only been a name on YA literature and letterhead until I had the opportunity to meet him for a make-up Rotary Club meeting in Yosemite this year.
    He immediately welcomed me as a fellow Rotarian. I was impressed by his extensive knowledge and love of Yosemite National Park.
    Although I only had the opportunity to have lunch with Steve once, I am inspired by his commitment to the Yosemite community and to the ideals of Rotary.

  3. Steven S. Medley

    i remember a long time ago i was searching the internet and found out about all his achievments, it all happened because i googled our shared name (steven medley). i do not believe we are related in any way, its obvious he was a great guy so my heart goes out to his family.

  4. Jim Becker

    I first met Steve in Gilroy when I was joining Boy Scouts. We graduated from Gilroy High School together and then went our seperate ways. I reconnected with him when he was at YA and I spend much of my summers camping at Indian Flat RV Park on the Merced. I always enjoyed his friendship and sense of humor. His dedication to Yosemite was inspiring, and I know he will be missed. He had the perfect job and lived his dream. God Bless

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