William Daniel Stevens III

The final whistle blew August 11, 2023, in Cayuse, Oregon for wéeptes sikalálayn, Soaring Eagle, surrounded by his wife and loved ones.

Through the span of at least four decades and hundreds of Lapwai youth, Coach taught his kids to play hard and never give up until the whistle was blown.

In life, William D. Stevens III, ‘Dan’ lived, loved and worked with the same sentiments. The final whistle sounded for Coach Buck, Uncle Buck, Buckcheetah and Buckskin on Friday night at 8:45 p.m. he was 65 years old.

William was born on July 16, 1958, in Lewiston, Idaho to William Nicodemus Stevens Jr. and Geneva Madsen Stevens of Arrow Junction. The youngest child and only son, he joined sisters Sharen, Lucinda, Brenda and Wilhemina at the family ranch. Dan, his sister Brenda, and Father farmed and raised cattle on the land as heirs to LowTsarWat and her daughter, He-yume-te-tah-lilp.

From his father’s side William comes from the Nicodemus, Andrews, Raboin and Ramsey Nez Perce families and from his mother’s side, William comes from the Mary Threedresses, Ashley, Finley, Kususti and Eneas families of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Dan attended Lapwai schools and graduated from Lapwai High School in 1977. He traveled all over Indian Country, attending celebrations and pow wows with his parents. Dan was a fast and fancy dancer. He was active in Indian Club, performing at different schools to showcase his moves with his dance troupe. He remained committed to helping his father farm and ranch at Arrow until his dad retired in 1994. Dan loved to travel to Montana and spend time with his family and play baseball, basketball and softball. As a child he loved going to the mountains to camp, hunt, gather and fish with other families including the Holts and Smiths. As a Lapwai Wildcat, Dan learned early on how to get the animals fed and to practice on time while living out in the country.

Dan was involved in all athletics, culture and community activities throughout his high school years. He excelled in football, basketball and baseball. Following graduation from Lapwai High School he played football at Yakima Valley Community College on a scholarship and continued living the dream on the tourney trail playing baseball with the Strokin’Ts.

Dan’s dedication and work ethic was generously shared with the Nez Perce Tribe and his community. This included coaching Lapwai High School Football and Basketball. Since the late 1970s hundreds of boys and girls played for Coach Buckskin in Baby Wildcats. Dan was never one to turn kids away and suited up munchkins through junior high players fielding three football teams. For two generations countless memories, nicknames, motivational and renowned expressions are only a few takeaways from Coach Buckskin. Dan also took baseball and basketball teams all over the northwest on his own time and resources.

Despite not having children of his own, he had hundreds of kids and was a father figure to many. Coach could share a story about every single player he ever had.

Dan began his employment with the Nez Perce Tribe at the PiNeeWaus Community Center in 1978. He also drove bus for the Senior Citizens program and Lapwai School District. For seventeen years Dan was a youth counselor for the Drug and Alcohol Program. Dan created an environment, after school and summer breaks, for kids of all ages to play games, hang out and eat.
From there, he helped build the water tower and locker rooms at the HS football field.

Since its inception in 1996 Dan began working at the Clearwater River Casino and retired in 2019, reluctantly. Dan started in drop crew, moved to soft count and retired as a security guard.

Dan was a faithful supporter and biggest fan of his nieces and nephews in all aspects of life. His sisters, their children and grandchildren meant the world to him. He was a devoted and unconditional loving son, brother and uncle.

Dan was reunited with and married Vivian Sohappy of Cayuse, Oregon. Their vows were exchanged on December 11, 2022, at Tutuilla Presbyterian Church in Pendleton, Oregon. He moved to Pendleton in the early fall of 2022 to be with his love, Vivian. Dan was welcomed to the family home by his brother-in-law and five grandchildren whom he loved as his own.

Dan and Vivian shared their days with rides in the country, family dinners, the grandchildren’s games, events and in prayer. Dan was a loving and devoted husband and grandfather. He loved his people and community with all his heart but his unwavering love for Vivian lead him to live in Cayuse until his last breath.

Dan was preceded in death by his paternal great-grandparents, Kuiz Kelemet and Lucy Is-Eyeye Kuskus, Philip and Mildred Raboin Andrews, maternal great grandparents, Frank and Cecelia Kususti Ashley, maternal grandparents, Charles and Agnes Ashley-Madsen, paternal grandparents William Nicodemus Stevens Sr. and Mildred Andrews; mother and father, Geneva and Bill; sisters, Sharen and Brenda Stevens and nephew Chip. Dan will also reunite with former players and friends whom he loved dearly.

Dan is survived by his wife Vivian, sisters Lucinda Perez and Wilhemina Stevens, beloved grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, great-great nieces, and great-great nephews.

A true blue Lapwai legend such as William D. Stevens III is the least, a tough act to follow but the warriors he assisted in creating both on and off the field will carry on his legacy.

A memorial service will be held Monday, August 14, 2023, at 6:00 p.m., at the Pineewaus Community Center in Lapwai, Idaho.
A funeral service will commence on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at the Pineewaus Community Center in Lapwai, ID. Burial and his final resting place will be at Stevens Family Cemetery at Arrow Junction. A dinner will follow at the PiNeeWaus.
Vassar Rawls Funeral Home of Lewiston, Idaho has been entrusted to care for the family.

Obituaries from November 2022 – July 2023 can be found HERE.

Obituaries prior to November 2022 can be found in the Nimiipuu Tribal Tribune Archives HERE.

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