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Official Obituary of

Stephen Joseph Rotter

July 19, 1930 ~ March 9, 2024 (age 93) 93 Years Old
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Stephen Rotter Obituary

Stephen Joseph Rotter passed away on March 9, 2024, at age 93, surrounded by his daughters and serenaded by his favorite crooner, Frank Sinatra, singing Come Fly With Me. He died at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet, SC while on hospice.

Stephen was formerly from NY state, most recently Albany NY. He is survived by his younger sister Teresa (Tess) Atkinson of Chatham NJ; his wife of 68 years, Mary Ann (Midge) Rotter of South Carolina; his daughters and their families, Marie Drake and husband Richard of Minnesota, Elizabeth Ann Chambers of Massachusetts, Bernadette Hallam and husband Peter of South Carolina, and Theresa Cicero and Roger Cicero of South Carolina; 8 grandchildren; and 10 great grandchildren.

Born in Summit NJ on July 19, 1930, Stephen was a first generation American, born to Hungarian immigrant parents Stephen Joseph Rotter Sr. and Anna Soos Rotter. He grew up near the Rotter family farm in Chatham NJ where he often spent time with his aunts, uncles and cousins. He attended St. Patrick’s Grammar School and graduated from Chatham High School in Chatham NJ. He was the first of his family to attend college earning his bachelor’s in engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark NJ. During college he held his first engineering job with Porter, Urquhart, McCreary and O’Brien.

In 1953 Stephen was drafted into the US Army. He began his service by learning Morse Code at the Japanese Naval Academy before serving as a radio operator in Korea and at Fort Banks in Boston, MA. While stationed in Boston he met a beautiful young nurse, Mary Ann Chambers, at a dance at Catherine Laboure School of Nursing. This changed his life forever! They were engaged within the year and married soon after.

With a new wife and daughters on the way Stephen focused on his career. He worked as a civil engineer at the New York State Department of Transportation. His work included design and maintenance of state roads, highways, and bridges. Next, he worked for the New York State Thruway Authority until he retired. His Thruway work required multiple family moves around New York State—from Altamont, to Candor, to Hamburg, to Philmont and  finally to Valatie where he spent most of his retirement years. After retiring he took a consulting job with the Thruway to conduct bridge inspections required after the tragic Schoharie County bridge collapse in 1987. This was not a typical office job—he worked from a boat directing the underwater structural inspections done by divers. He really enjoyed the work.

When the bridge inspection work ended Stephen finally went into full retirement. He now had time for adventure. He bought a Westfalia van and he and Midge traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada. Highlights included Olympic National Park, Washington; Bryce Canyon, Utah; Denali and Glacier National Park, Alaska. They also took river cruises in Europe; traveled extensively with family and did ancestory travel to Hungary and Ireland to explore their family roots.

Golf, history and the Boston Red Sox were Stephen’s life-long passions. He started his golf interest as a caddie in high school at local golf courses in Chatham, NJ and he continued to play throughout his life. He had a number of hole-in-ones including two at the Catatonk Golf Club in Candor NY. In 1980 he attended the US Open Golf Tournament—a lifelong dream. History, specifically civil war history, was Stephens ongoing interest. If there was an important book on the civil war he had read it. Now, about those Red Sox—they were his team his whole life. He proudly sported his official Red Sox hat no matter where traveled which always led to many a good conversation.

Giving back to community and taking care of the earth were always part of Stephen’s life. He was a member of the Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, worked with Habitat for Humanities, delivered meals on wheels, and was active in the Catholic Church at various phases in his life. As early as the 1970s Stephen insisted his family sort and recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastics—which earned him the name “pioneer of recycling” from his first grandson, Matthew. This became a lifelong influence for many of his family. 

Before moving to South Carolina, Stephen and Midge spent five enjoyable years at Avila retirement community in Albany NY. Here they shared dinners, movies, stories, birthday parties and laughs with many new octogenarian friends. They were sorry to leave yet they did move south to be closer to family. Stephen enjoyed his short time in South Carolina. In the summer of 2023, he attended a big family reunion in Pawleys Island. Many lasting memories were made at the reunion where Stephen met his youngest 1 year old great grandson, Wells.

We miss Stephen—and he will continue to be part of our lives always—rest in peace Dad!

Memorial service is being held for immediate family.

Memorial donations may be made online to Capital City Rescue Mission of Albany at https://give.capitalcityrescuemission.org/give. Stephen donated annually to this organization as it was making a difference where he lived. You may add in the “note” area that this is a gift in memory of Stephen J Rotter.

To send condolences, share a memory, write a tribute or view photos go to www.burroughsfh.com.

Burroughs Funeral Home (843-651-1440) of Murrells Inlet is assisting the family.

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