Steve Stairs' wife Belinda described him as dedicated -- whether it was to his job as Richland's traffic engineer, his duties as an Army reservist, or to the couple's 8-year-old twins.
"He loved what he did -- loved working for the city," she said.
Stairs, 49, died Saturday, most likely from a heart attack while shoveling snow, his wife said.
He worked in Richland since the family moved to the city in 2002, although he also spent a couple of years as a drill sergeant at Fort Huachuca in Arizona training soldiers being deployed to Iraq.
The city held his job for him until he returned -- a job his wife said he described as the best job he ever had.
City Manager Cindy Johnson said Stairs will be irreplaceable.
"He was well-loved and well-respected," she said. "We're just going to miss him terribly."
Belinda Stairs said she found her husband lying in the snow outside their Richland home on Saturday after he had gone out to shovel.
A neighbor and paramedics performed CPR but couldn't revive him, and she said she was told by the coroner that he likely suffered a massive heart attack.
Belinda described her husband as a "very quiet man" and a hard worker who often was kept busy by his job at the city and his duties with the Army Reserve.
But he always made time for their children, she said.
"When he came home from work, he didn't go out with his buddies," she said. "He wanted to be with the kids. He did spend quality time with them doing all the little things he could. They looked forward to that."
He retired from the Reserves on Oct. 31 to be able to spend more time with them, she said.
"He definitely was a family man. That's all he really cared about," she said.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; email@example.com