Midlands native dies while trying to improve Iraqi schools

By Logan Smith - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - He didn't wear a uniform or carry a gun, but a Midlands native is being remembered after he was killed in Iraq last month.

If you want to know what a man's like, the saying goes, "look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." By that measure, Dr. Stephen Everhart was truly - as one colleague put it - a prince of a man. "He would never ask anyone to do anything that he wouldn't be willing to do himself," said wife Stephanie Everhart. "And I know on many a Saturday he would be at the university in his jeans and tennis shoes moving boxes and sweeping the floor."

It was that kind of spirit that led Stephen Everhart all the way from South Carolina to the Middle East. He was working to improve Iraqi business schools. "I remember when he called on Monday night," said Stephanie. "He said it had been an excellent day with meetings and he was excited about what the rest of the week would bring."

But then Stephanie got the call you may associate with a soldier's wife, not a professor's. "I had taken the children to the pool for the afternoon, and when I got home, the president of the university called me," said Stephanie. "And she was the one to share the news with me."

A bomb went off as Stephen's convoy was leaving the university, killing him and wounding three others. "Just being able to process the news is essentially all you can do," said Stephanie.

As a Columbia native, Stephen never forgot his USC roots. "We'd always try to come down and go to at least one ballgame each fall."

Before he died, he was working to set up an exchange program between USC and the American University in Cairo. "You would alternate where you went to school each year and ultimately end up with a masters degree at USC," said Stephanie.

The idea to rebuild a shattered region is a dream that may not have died with Stephen. "We're sorry for the outcome, but I don't think he'd have it any other way," said Stephanie.

There is some good news to the tragedy. At Dr. Everhart's memorial service Friday, USC Business School Dean Hilde Teegan said the university would continue to work with AUC to make Stephen's exchange program a reality.

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