MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The man who ran some very popular places to get gas lost his battle with cancer this month.
Steve Williams was one of the business partners who own Bobby and Steve’s Auto World.
Steve joined his father Bobby in the family business of operating service stations in the 1990s.
Over the years, they developed a reputation for exceeding the expectations of their customers.
At their Washington Avenue location in Minneapolis, workers take pride in offering “gas with class,” which is the company’s motto.
Steve was one of the guys who made sure it happened.
“An environment that is classy, and they offered a lot more than just gas,” said Dani Bame, one of Steve’s daughters. “The towing business, the service business, overall a really friendly environment.”
Steve started working for his father when he was 12 years old, helping to pump gas and wash windows.
As an adult, their business partnership led to several more locations.
And at home, Steve became a proud father himself, vacationing with his three kids as often as he could.
“Number one, how great of a dad he was, and not only to me but to my friends,” said Ryan Williams, Steve’s son. “He was a phenomenal second father figure to some of my close friends.”
Mariah Williams is one of Steve’s daughters.
“Our saying was ‘Love you, like you, see you tomorrow and good night.’ Definitely love and like,” Mariah said.
Steve was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in his mid-40s. Doctors said he would likely live four more years.
He fought the disease for 11-and-half years.
“This year alone he had spent 71 days in the hospital, and it just never phased him,” Dani said. “He was just constantly optimistic and hopeful.”
Steve’s illness turned into a lesson for his daughters and son.
“‘Don’t collect things anymore, collect memories,'” Ryan said. “That was a big lesson that he taught us.”
On the day of his funeral, the family witnessed something amazing: a procession of nearly 100 tow trucks, driven by people who had worked for Steve or for competing companies.
“I think of him as the opposite of ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,'” said Renee Williams, Steve’s wife. “The Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small. Steve’s heart was two sizes too large.”
Steve Williams was 58 years old when he died on July 6.
Research shows workers in the petroleum industry are at a higher risk for the type of cancer he had.
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