Obituary of Stephen Todd Raphael
Stephen Todd Raphael passed away on 28 January 2022 in Houston, TX, of COVID-19 complications. He was 72 years old. Our Heavenly Father has called Stephen to his eternal home. Our world has lost a wonderful man. Steve was a very loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, brother in law and friend. He will be greatly missed. Our earthly loss is Heaven’s gain. Steve was born in Denver, CO, on 1 February 1949 to loving parents Jerome and Alys Raphael. He graduated from Alcolanes High School in Lafayette, CA, where he competed on the springboard diving team. For several years, he and his family raced their sailboat on San Francisco Bay before Steve was recruited to the Naval Academy for sailing. At Annapolis, he was in the 14th Company and was a four-year member of the sailing team and captain of the Shields team. Steve developed a love for flying at USNA, obtained his private pilot’s license and selected Navy Air at service selection.Following graduation with the Class of 1971, Steve first served as navigator on USS SHELTON (DD-790) on Yankee Station, then reported to flight school. While in Pensacola, he took up racing dirt bikes and enjoyed surfing. Steve excelled as a naval aviator and during his first P-3 tour, was selected early as a patrol plane commander and instructor pilot. Following a tour in the P-3 fleet replacement squadron, he resigned his commission. In October 1977, he was hired by Delta Air Lines. He became a senior captain, flying almost every Boeing aircraft Delta had, including the B-767 400ER on international routes, and the L-1011. Steve lived mostly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area during that time and took up windsurfing on the lakes in Texas, and out in Hawaii, whenever he could get away. Steve retired from Delta in 2004 and flew Gulfstreams for a charter company, then international luxury 757s for EOS Airlines, across the Atlantic. Steve was later hired by Southwest Air Lines. Until his passing, Steve worked for Southwest as a simulator instructor pilot in the training department. Steve and his wife, Melinda, lived on a lake where he took up waterskiing, which became his recreational passion. In the mid-eighties, Steve became involved with competition slalom waterskiing. With a lot of hard work and coaching, Steve won 10 national championships and three world slalom championships skiing for team USA. Steve and Melinda attended our 50th USNA Class Reunion in October 2021, where classmates were able to congratulate him for his impressive waterskiing accomplishments. Steve is survived by his wife, Melinda of Southlake, TX; son, Scott Raphael (Heather); granddaughter, Sarah Trinity; sister, Lesley Raphael; brother, Martin Raphael (Susan); niece, Samantha Quilici (Armin and their children, Vincent and Adriana).
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