On this day in 2006, one of the most fun-loving, lighthearted individuals was tragically taken from this earth at the young age of 18. His family has since helped the CyberProps team immensely in our growth and offered us so much help that they have become an extended part of our own family. We wanted to honor the McNulty family and their son Stephen Kyle McNulty with tributes from Stephen’s friends and family in memory of an extraordinary human being. Props to Stephen Kyle McNulty for bringing so much life, wisdom and happiness to so many people in his 18 years on this earth. Stephen Kyle, you’re still making people smile.
Tributes to Stephen Kyle McNulty (click to expand)<br />
Whether we were playing Nintendo after school, acting out elaborate cops and robbers scenarios during the late summer nights, or one-upping each other on a soccer juke move, nearly all of the memories from my childhood involve a central character: Stephen McNulty. He was my best friend growing up. We were a little over a year apart in age and two years in school, but on Goldenrod Court we were inseparable. Some of my favorite memories with Stephen were made when we spent the night at his house. We would go to the video rental store and select something awesome like Ernest Scared Stupid, Terminator, or Gremlins, and then stop by the “Kwik-E-Mart” to grab a mountain dew/Pepsi/cherry layered slushy to sip on throughout the night. We would come back home and pop in the movie after we built our fort made of couch cushions, blankets and any type of moveable furniture we could find. Those were the best nights of my childhood. Not because of the cool things we were doing, but because I got to hang out with my best friend all the time, and I loved it.
When I thought about writing this I realized that I don’t have any photos of Stephen and I at my house. I quickly contacted my Mom to have her scan and send me some of the hard copies from our childhood. Some were shots of just he and I, but many of them were with groups of friends at a birthday party or summer trip. I noticed that in every single photo he and I were always next to each other, and that makes me smile. Even today I know he is right by my side, and I feel comfort when I ask him for help in times of need. When I experience true bliss in nature or on a travel experience, I know he is there with me experiencing it, and I think about him. We may never be able to ride our bikes down to Moorehead Elementary or do homework together after school, but to this day he and I are as inseparable as we were in our childhood. His spirit lives on through me.
-Andrew Evans, Stephen’s Friend
Stephen Kyle McNulty. Who was he? What did he accomplish while here on this earth? What gifts did he leave his family and friends?
Perhaps I should begin by telling you about Stephen’s soul. Pure. Stephen cared about everyone, regardless of race, rich or poor, he loved all people and would always go out of his way to make another person feel important. He didn’t want people to hurt. His laughter was contagious. Never met a stranger. Truly a beautiful person both inside and out. Stephen was artistic and it was reflected in his individual style. He was not a follower, but a leader who danced to his own music. He was his own person.
Stephen is alive in spirit, and friends and family often feel his presence. What an impression he left with us. If we adopt his positive attitude, share our laughter, help others, and promise to “make a difference” then we know in our hearts that we are living as Stephen lived. Make everyday count and be the best people we can be.
Stephen Kyle McNulty left a great legacy. His memory will live on forever. And I am forever grateful for his life and all the gifts he left us.
-Linda Snider, Stephen’s Aunt
Nine years since the passing of Stephen K. McNulty, and each anniversary the privilege of my perspective of him dawns on me anew. Where I thought there had been some gap in my memory is filled up by an unexpected reflection of Stephen. We grew up together. We were children together. He was the leader of our neighborhood group. He picked the games, he called the shots. What he did, we did; when he laughed, we laughed. Stephen was always laughing.
When all the boys in the neighborhood grew up and went to high school I didn’t see Stephen or talk to him like I used to do. He was a pretty popular guy – and two years older. I always knew where he was, though: It was impossible to miss him walking the school halls in that jacket of his. We always nodded to each other, slapped hands, shared a grin, something, anything. And he still laughed all the time, the same way he did when we were kids. I remember that vividly.
One day I was walking between classes, I must’ve had a glum expression on my face because suddenly I heard a voice in my ear. “Smile,” it said. I looked up and there was Stephen passing me by. He glanced over his shoulder, with that jacket on, hood up, and a knowing look in his eyes. It was a moment I won’t ever forget.
I never saw Stephen again.
How do any of us quantify such a loss? There is no real earthly grappling with something like this, a young man taken in the Spring of life…The McNultys are an extension of my own family. They always have been. If I don’t think about them during the day then I certainly pray for them at night; and that is where I discovered that Stephen was still alive. In my prayers. My relationship with Stephen on earth seems so brief and far away compared to the new relationship I have with him now. We speak almost every night before I fall asleep, and sometimes when I am driving or on a walk. He is with my grandmother, who passed only a few weeks before he did, and he is with all of my angels.
But it really is him: He is growing, he is learning, and he is still laughing. Stephen is not gone or done; he has not stopped being. With that knowledge and with that faith I take the advice he (He) gave me nine years ago. Smile.
-g. Jordan Lyons
What’s up Bro? I know you’re doing well! I have so many questions to ask, so be prepared to talk when I see you.
Dude, I got married, and I’m about to have a baby. I married this girl I met in South Korea; she’s cool people.
Are you still drinking Crown? I had a couple shots before going to a movie the other day. I still get a little laugh about having some at retreat. I wish we could have gotten the light skin retreat leader to take a couple drinks- that could have got wild.
Thinking about wild times… Can you image if we would have made it to Cancun our senior year? Bro, it would have been beyond epic.
And man my bad for not holla at you sooner. I promise, it won’t be this long again. And thanks for always having my back. I know you’re there even if you don’t always show, but I see you.
-Barrington Hodges, Stephen’s friend
If you did not know Stephen at Cathedral High School, you just thought of Stephen as the kid who wore the big hooded coat through the halls (with the hood up, of course). If you were a teacher who did not know Stephen, you might have thought he was a potential troublemaker.
I feel sorry for people who did not have the chance to know him the way I knew him. Stephen was frequent visitor to my office and to the dean’s office. Not because he was in trouble, but because we saw the real Stephen, and he knew that.
Sure, if my walls could talk they would tell you that he would come in beyond frustrated with a situation and there was no filter on what would come out of his mouth. But, he also would come in and tell me about his aspirations and what he saw for his future. I was fortunate to know a kind, loving and loyal young man who had so much more going on underneath the surface.
To this day, I cherish a glass blown pendant that he gave me just before his death. It reminds me every single day to say “I Iove you” to the people I care about the most. He loved his friends and his family deeply, and I hope that he has given us all a legacy to show our loved ones how much we love them.
-Kathy Pivonka, College Counselor at Cathedral High School
Stephen McNulty was my friend. We grew up together and had known each other from a young age. I guess credit for that should go to our mothers. His mom and my mom had grown up together and have continued to be good friends to this day.
Since Stephen and I were the same age, we also attended school together. We attended Holy Spirit Grade School and graduated in the Class of 2002. Growing up I was painfully shy, especially in the beginning of my school years. I would hang out with more of the boys because I had a couple of cousins who were also in my class growing up. Knowing they would be there brought me some comfort going to school everyday. This being so, I think, strengthened my bond with Stephen. I think he would look out for me in a way.
One of my favorite memories from eighth grade year was May Day. The students celebrate their mothers and take them out to lunch. Since my mom was such good friends with most of the boy’s mothers, we went out to lunch with all of them. It was just Stephen, the rest of the boys from my class, and me. Sort of ending my years at Holy Spirit how I started there.
Stephen and I were two of the eight students from Holy Spirit that went on to attend Cathedral High School together. We didn’t really hang out with the same people in high school. When kids begin to grow up and start to form groups and cliques, I felt that never affected Stephen and I. We would never need to have meaningful conversations or anything, him smiling and just saying, “Hi Sam” always meant so much to me.
When March comes around, I tend to think of him more often. I think of what he taught me. What a free spirit he was, how he treated others, how he was able to make people laugh so easily. I looked up to him in so many ways because he did have an impact on my life. When I think of all the memories I have of him, it’s hard to believe how fast time has gone by. I do miss him, but these memories that I have and the time that I got to spend with him, I will cherish forever.
-Samantha Doyle, Stephen’s friend
Stephen Kyle McNulty
It’s so very hard to believe that you were taken from this world 9 years ago. Some days, it seems like just yesterday, and other days, it seems like forever ago that I saw that beautiful smile of yours. I wish I could put into words how much I miss you. I wish I could see you, hold you, hug you, talk to you, laugh with you, but, I know that I can only wish.
In my heart, I know that you are with all of us, watching us, keeping us safe.
I have so many memories, so I’ll share just a few that are close to my heart…
What a sweet baby you were. You were so good, to let Kristin and Brad dress you up all silly and play jokes on you. Wherever they were, you wanted to be. I loved watching you play football, soccer, and wrestle. When they asked me to be the manager of your travel soccer team, I was so honored, and you constantly told me thanks for being there, what a gift that was.
I loved coming to visit you at Uncle Bill’s Pet Shop. They loved you there and how knowledgeable you were on all the fish. One day, after you got home from work, we were all sitting at the kitchen table, and I saw something coming out of your uniform shirt pocket… I said, “Stephen, what is that coming out of your shirt pocket?” You replied, “Oh my God! It’s a snake that I forgot to put back in the tank after I cleaned it!” You were always bringing some animal home. Sugar gliders, fish, a tiny little Dachshund, that you wanted me to have. I can’t tell you the times I wish I had kept him…
I always admired your close relationship with Patrick. You two always had each other’s backs. I remember many times seeing the two of you just chillin’ in the basement, playing the play station and hearing all kinds of inappropriate language when things weren’t going so well with whatever game you were playing… What I would give to see the two of you together again…
One of my most favorite memories besides every holiday that we were all together, all six of us, was the day we went to your senior retreat closing. I was so worried about you, because you did not want to go. When I saw you come into the room after retreat was over, you were sobbing tears. I was worried if you were all right. Then you got up to the podium and said that you wanted to thank everyone for pushing so hard to get you to retreat…. You embraced it, forgave yourself, reconnected with God, and felt loved. Little did we know, that 3 weeks later, you would be taken away from us. I have peace with knowing you were in a good place.
With every retreat I lead, I share that experience with the retreatants, and because of you and your journey, I am able to share my experience with them. I will forever be grateful for you in my life. It so hurts with losing you, but the time I had with you will always, always be ingrained in my heart.
18 years was just not long enough
As it says on your gravestone… “Stephen Kyle, You always make me smile.” And as you stated so perfectly in the letter you last wrote to me… I love you… To Infinity and Beyond.
-Jacque McNulty – Stephen’s Mother
As a 6 foot 215 pound, football-playing freshmen at Cathedral High School. There was practically no one that could intimidate me. That was, of course, until Patrick and I became friends, and I met Stephen.
Stephen had a presence in the halls of that school like no one else. In my freshmen mindset I couldn’t decide whether to say, “What’s up?!” or run for my life, as he was my best friend’s older brother.
I remember sitting in their basement and playing Halo for hours on end. Stephen took no prisoners on Patrick and I. I can still hear him laughing through the entire match whilst beating us 20-0.
Stephen was the cool kid everyone wanted to be around. He had a larger than life persona. I speak for many others when I say he taught us an unmeasurable amount about life in such a painfully short time here on earth. It was a blessing to have had the experiences we did, but it is a greater blessing to know that he is looking down on us cheesin’ everyday as we look up.
-Mac Banks, Stephen’s friend
Stephen Kyle continues to make me smile. Stephen’s approach to life, in the perspective of my own in which I knew him, was unique and inspirational. This young man was a lover as you will often hear his mother say, “Stephen was a lover.” I met Stephen when I was in the 6th grade at a grade school dance, and I crushed on him through high school and beyond. When I was junior, I started taking Stephen home from school some days; Stephen would open up about his family, his life, his hopes and dreams. Stephen was a lover and though he was mysterious at times in his ways, his heart was so big that he didn’t have time to be negative for too long because he had a life to live. Stephen always walked around like he had this huge plan and a very vital purpose for doing what he was doing. I loved seeing Stephen in the hallways: my goodness #highschoolcrush. He let me share his locker. He had lockers all over the school at one point. I shared a locked of his in the basement and over in Loretto Hall. He was so giving and generous. A memory I replay often is when I was walking down the hall one afternoon, and it was just after we all returned from spring break in 2004; Stephen saw me and he said, “there’s my girl…” and he picked me up and swung me around. He was wearing his glasses that day.
As time rolled on, I graduated from Cathedral, and Stephen was entering his senior year. I became involved in his life in a different way. I was off to school in South Bend, IN, and he was still in Indy. This was way before texting times so we would e-mail each other and talk on the phone only periodically. During that time, I told him that I could be his “free bird,” and that he could be free to tell me and share with me anything and everything that he had going on in his life. At that time, Stephen was battling a few things on his own, and I wanted to be there for him as much as I could. He would write me e-mails while he was in Mr. Fogel’s class; sometimes they’d be one liners and others paragraphs long. He told me that he couldn’t wait to be free too or towards me, and he wanted to sit down face to face to share what was going on in his life with me. We planned on spending time together when I was home for Easter break in April of 2006. One of the last e-mails I received from was a one liner informing me that he was going on senior retreat. Of course, I wrote him a letter, but I also surprised at the closing.
As we all remember, Stephen was wearing his favorite coat, and he talked at the microphone offering his praises. Towards the end of his “speech” he said, “Free Bird, I see you out there, and I love you.” My heart melted and chills ran down my spine. Oh, how I loved him so. That night was the last night that I saw him; the hug we shared was the last hug I received from him. I can remember the hug as if our necks were attached, and he was a bit sweaty from wearing his coat. I remember turning back to look at him as I left and he was smiling and talking with his Dad.
I went back to school at the end of the weekend, and he was upset we didn’t see each other. A few nights later, I was studying for finals and I didn’t have my cell phone with me, luckily. Stephen left me a voicemail that I recorded and listen to over and over and over again. I can recite the voicemail verbatim as it’s engrained on my heart. Not long after did the heart breaking news that our Stephen was taken from us made it’s way to me in South Bend, IN that morning, and it destroyed my current state of mind. Days or months later, God graced me with a beautiful relationship with Stephen’s mother Jacque who took me in as her own. Years went by with deep sorrow in missing his smile, his laugh, his voice and his presence. I was leading a senior retreat and Stephen’s littler brother Patrick was also leading, and somewhere in my speech I played Stephen’s voicemail and Patrick’s response was bittersweet. His cousin Pat Trainor was also on this retreat, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Stephen by Pat. Pat went over to Patrick and put his arm around him, and they cried together.
Stephen’s voice can do that to someone; his voice is somehow tangible and provides such a comfort at the same time. My love for Stephen is still within. I still talk to Stephen and I feel his presence at times, and I will never let that go. I know that Stephen continues to be present in my life as he is in all the lives of those who love him. Stephen is our angel.
“Free Bird, I see you out there, and I love you.”
-Anne Therese Stroude, Stephen’s friend
To My Brother,
Stephen, as your older brother, I will always love you, and everyday I constantly think of you. The circumstances of your death have always been an issue for me. Two months before you passed, I tragically was caught in a house fire and almost died. Some days, I feel like you traded your life for mine. I wish I didn’t think that way but feel that you made a deal with God to save me and, in turn, sacrificed your life. I love your soul, energy, and spirit.
If there was anyway I could trade places with you, I would; over the years I realize that’s something I cannot do. With knowing that, I now live life working to be the best that I can be. The memories I have with you help me reach that level, to be the best that I can be. Your memory keeps me going day in and out. You may be gone brother, but you will never be forgotten. Love…… Brad
-Brad McNulty, Stephen’s Brother
Walking into Uncle Bills to pick up some fish for our new 15 or 20 gallon tank, I didn’t expect this kid was going to make such an enormous impact on my life. And the fish’s life… All the other fish died in a few months, but the fish Stephen picked out for me lived another 2, 3 years until I’d see him again in high school. I mean, I knew he was going to be a part of my life forever since we were cousins, but I didn’t think I’d be saying his name every day for the rest of my life, always being reminded of him.
I remember just buying my lunch and holding my tray nervous as fuck. Who am I going to sit with, I don’t have any friends? Coming from a public school, headed to the back of the cafeteria, I spotted a HUGE smile at me and thought, “O thank God!” For the rest of the year, I sat with Stephen and the seniors. He had taken me under his wing and showed me the ropes of Cathedral High School. I know so many seniors from the class of ’06 because of one person. He didn’t care that I was a freshman. I was his family and that’s all that mattered. I remember him telling me one day, “It’s all about the FAM.” He said one day I’d be out of high school, lose touch with my high school friends, and all I’d have is my family that matters. Today I keep in touch with my Cathedral friends once every couple months…
As my freshman year went on, I had about 3 people I would call my friends who were my two cousins, Kevin McGinley and Stephen, and Dave Seuss. So you can image a whole school year dividing my friend time between only 3 people. Not only did Stephen become my best friend (at Cathedral), but he became a mentor and a look out. He was always looking out for me. I can’t think of the amount of times I wanted to hang out with Stephen sometimes after school or on the weekend, and he straight up said no. When he told me I couldn’t chill, I knew he was doing senior stuff my freshman ass didn’t need to be doing. The last month Stephen was alive, I got pissed at Stephen the last month of his life for telling time I couldn’t hang out with him and some of his friends. Being a little older now and wiser, I now know all those times Stephen was really looking out for me and trying to keep me out of “senior stuff”. At the time it made me mad, but today its nice knowing Stephen genuinely cared about me and was looking out for my well being. After Stephen’s senior retreat, I saw him at Kristin Thillman’s 16th birthday bash. It was as if God was giving me peace in saying goodbye to mentor and best buddy. He hugged me and told me with a big smile on his face, “Hey you know you’re my cousin and I love you right?” The next morning I received the phone call changing my life.
There are simply not enough words to describe the legacy of Stephen Kyle McNulty. I could go on and on and tell tons of stories of how great Stephen was and what he meant to me. I was honored when Pat asked me to do a segment about Stephen for CyberProps. I give props to everyone who was touched by Stephen and knew him. For various reasons, if you asked anyone who knew Stephen, they’d agree he was “The King” of Cathedral High School. He was a guy who filled the room with energy with his presence. He truly fulfilled his famous line, “I’m Stephen Kyle, and I’m here to make you smile.” Stephen is missed everyday by many, and will never be forgotten. Today I am married with two beautiful identical twins. One of their names is Stephen Kyle McGinley. Although no one can ever replace the true SKM, every time I call his name I am filled with joy knowing who he’s named after. And every day for the rest of my life, Stephen Kyle will remain with myself, my family, and my soul. I love you Stephen.
-Tony McGinley – Stephen’s cousin and friend
It’s been nine long years since I’ve seen you last. Not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of you. Often times when I’m having a bad day, I take a walk and just remember all the life lessons I learned from you.
The life lessons you taught me are what drive me to be the best man I can possibly be. I will never forget our late night conversations, especially one in particular. On that night you woke me up and asked me to catch up because you hadn’t seen me that day. We talked and you kept telling me how important it was to make sure that I live everyday to the fullest and to always wear a smile on my face. When times are bad, I remember that conversation and immediately put a smile on my face.
I just want you to know that no one could ever impact me more than you have. March 26, 2006 was the hardest day of my life. It was a day I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. From the struggles of that day I have become a stronger man, a man that I know you would be proud of. I owe all of that to you and for that I am forever grateful.
On this day, I will not be sad because I know you wouldn’t want that. Rather, I will wear a smile on my face and be thankful for the times we had together. Many others and myself will remember you today as our friend, role model, coach, son, and brother. All of us cheers to you because in eighteen short years you impacted so many in such a positive way.
The impact you made on people in eighteen years most will not do in a full lifetime. For that, I want to say thank you. I love you to the moon and back times a million. Looking forward to our next late night conversation. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Your baby brother,
-Patrick McNulty, Stephen’s brother
Props to all of the volunteers who give their time to work with our young people to help them “Find their way” in this world.
Especially, to those who give up days at a time to lead the Christian Awaking Retreats for high school seniors everywhere. While these volunteers are on this 4 day retreat very little sleep occurs. It is very demanding both physically and mentally.
Special thanks to Jacque my wife who this last week was on probably close to her 40th retreat experience since our son Stephen died in 2006. Also, to my son Patrick who attended his first retreat as a senior in 2008 and has returned several times since as a college leader and for the first time this year as an adult leader.
These retreats not only have helped countless of young people discover their purpose and faith, but have helped our family in our own healing process.
The people we have met along the way are no less than angels on earth. We have gained many new friends in our life as a direct result of being involved in these retreats. The “Kids” now mostly adults often keep in touch.
There are so many people who give up their time to ensure that the next generation does better than the one before it. There has been a new movement that has developed in the last 10 years or so to “Pay it forward”. It is catching on slowly, but I believe it will shape the millennium generation as they get in a position to make a difference. Your involvement can be through your time, treasure or talents of which, time is the most important. There is much talk of the “Greatest Generation” those your age in the 1930’s and 40’s, I believe today’s youth can be the “Best” generation to date!
Back to my story: While my wife Jacque was on retreat a year or so ago I just thought one night about why she does it and the following came to mind. She always takes a picture from a collection of our four children in the hallway of our son Stephen who died in 2006 along with her to the retreat.
PICTURE ON THE WALL
When the picture is missing I know you are on a mission.
Your efforts are filled with a love and a passion.
To mentor the girls and boys to learn how to live righteous with God defining their purpose as it’s delivered.
Never doubting their reason to be there and why they want to be remembered.
Learning to live without the toys and to value what is most precious on Earth.
Which goes all the way back to their birth.
Playing by the rules and getting the most out of life is your message to deliver.
The results of the retreat turns most of them into believers.
You can be assured that when they leave, you have created a new group of individuals who will go on to make a difference.
They will approach their “New World” with a totally new emergence.
The value you and the “Team” deliver to these kids, soon to be adults, makes a difference.
When I see the picture back on the wall it makes me want to bawl but then I remember your call and the reason why you followed your calling.
Your generation has the most to offer and the best people ever have your back. Take advantage of the foundation that has been set for you and remember to always pay it forward.