Cover photo for Steve Ekstrom's Obituary
1945 Steve 2024

Steve Ekstrom

September 2, 1945 — April 8, 2024

North Ogden

Steven Jay Ekstrom, beloved father, grandfather, brother, son, and friend, passed away peacefully in his home on April 8, 2024, surrounded by family and friends. He was 78.

 

Born on September 2, 1945, in Ogden, Utah, Steve was the second of four children born to Elmer Empey and Eva Gean Campbell Ekstrom. Steve’s childhood was happy. Favorite activities included playing with neighborhood friends in the Ogden River, fishing, and basketball. His basketball skill earned him a spot on the Varsity basketball team. He graduated from Ben Lomond High School in 1963.

 

Steve learned hard work at an early age. During summers, he worked in the cherry orchards near his home for spending money. He also worked in his uncle Bob’s Barbecue restaurant, washing dishes, mopping floors, and scrubbing and cutting potatoes for fresh cut fries.  

 

In 1963, Steve married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Griffin. By 1965, they had two sons, Kim and Kip. To support his young family, Steve worked in the kitchens of the Hotel Utah and as a delivery driver for Peerless Beauty and Barber Supply. At Peerless, he became a regional salesman, with accounts in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. He spent hours on the road covering this large geography. As his sons got older, he would often take them with him, interspersing work with swimming in the motel pool, dinners, movies, and sightseeing.

 

To Steve, the people he sold to and worked with were not just customers and coworkers: they were lifelong friends. He traveled extensively with this group, including cruises, trips to Hawaii, and Lake Powell houseboat trips. Steve also worked with one of his Moab customer/friends running Colorado River rafting adventures for several summers.

 

Steve had a lifelong love of water and boating. Nearly every summer weekend, Steve was waterskiing with large groups of 20 or more, including Kim and Kip, his parents, sisters, nieces and nephews, coworkers, customers, and childhood friends. Although he divorced Nancy, they remained good friends, and she and her husband Barry Hudgens would often join the weekend waterskiing group. Steve was also a partner in multiple Lake Powell houseboats and organized numerous weeklong adventures of skiing, cliff diving and eating with his family and friends.

 

In 1980, Steve left Peerless to follow one of his lifelong passions: food. He opened PJ’s Food & Games in Pleasant View, Utah with his Peerless colleague and longtime friend, Patti Jones. PJ’s served burgers, shakes and fresh cut fries, like the ones he made at his uncle’s restaurant as a teenager. PJ’s opened during the first video game craze, and had over 30 of the latest games. This made it a favorite local hang out for food and fun. The restaurant was a family effort. Steve’s children, sisters, nieces, and nephews all worked in the restaurant. His father Elmer was the main cook and his mother Gean served customers.

 

In the late 80’s, PJ’s Food & Games began serving and delivering pizza and they renamed the restaurant PJ’s Pizza. The pizza part of the business grew too large to be housed in the same facility as the burger restaurant. In 1991, he co-founded Pizza Man with his son Kim who had just graduated from BYU and moved to the current Pizza Man location in North Ogden, Utah.

 

In December of 1991 Steve married Jill Ferrin. He legally adopted her two young children, ShayLee and Christopher, raising them and loving them as his own. They welcomed two more daughters, Cashlyn and Katie, who completed the family. His favorite family activities were movies, eating out and travel. He made trips to Disneyland with his children and later his grandchildren. He purchased a time share at Snowbird and began a tradition of annual family Snowbird trips that continues today.

 

As Steve’s family grew, his business also grew. Pizza Man became a local favorite, serving millions of meals to the residents of the community. Its success today is in large part because of Steve’s generosity. He supported a wide variety of local charities, but his favorites centered around schools and law enforcement. He also assisted many of his employees in their personal pursuits. For example, he helped one employee with immigration issues. He helped at least two former employees through dental school. He supported multiple employees’ missionary service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including his two oldest sons. Most of his efforts were known only to those he helped.

 

In 2016, Steve sold Pizza Man to his oldest son and retired. He became the primary companion and caregiver to his aging mother. He also focused on loving his children and grandchildren. He drove his grandchildren to school, lessons and practices every day. As part of his routine, he usually took them for treats after. Favorite memories among the grandchildren are after school trips to McDonalds for ice cream and time in the playland. As he battled diabetes, kidney failure and heart failure in his final years, he spent time dining out with family and friends, traveling and camping with his children and grandchildren and attending family events and dinners.

 

Steve is survived by six children, sons Kim (Charlotte), Kip, and Christopher and his daughters ShayLee Walker, Cashlyn Lewis and Katie Ekstrom (Skyeler Barnes), his nine grandchildren Parker, Calista, Anika, Griffin, Donovan and Felicity (Kim and Charlotte), Diandra and Brandon (Kip), Dean (Christopher) and Harper (Cashlyn) and three great grandchildren, Evelyn (Diandra), Evie and Oliver (Brandon). He is also survived by his sisters Cheryl Smith (Ron) and Becky Rigby (Kirk), his former wives Nancy Crowder and Jill Bailey, and his long-time friend Patti Jones. He was preceded in death by his parents Elmer and Gean and his sister Diane.

 

The family would like thank the caregivers at the Pleasant View Davita Dialysis Center for the care and support they gave to Steve over the past several years and the caregivers at McKay Dee Hospital, especially those in the ICU, for the care they gave to Steve in his final days.  

 

Steve’s children would also like to express deep gratitude to Cashlyn’s former husband, Tyler Lewis and Katie’s partner, Skyeler Barnes for the daily love and care they gave Steve during the years he lived with them. They gave Steve the love of sons, and he returned the love of a father.

 

In accordance with Steve’s final wishes, he was cremated on Friday, April 12, 2024, attended by only his children. He also requested to have no viewing or funeral ceremony. Steve’s children will host a Celebration of Life on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Community Center at Lindquist’s Office Building, 3434 Washington Blvd. Interment will be at the Ben Lomond Cemetery with his father, mother and sister at a date to be determined.

 

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the American Diabetes Association or dine out at a local restaurant in Steve’s honor.

 

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

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