On July 5, 2015, Stephanie lost her fierce, courageous battle with cancer and passed away peacefully, surrounded by family.
Stephanie was born on Nov. 29, 1978, in Billings, to Kristine Buehler and Mark Miller. She was instantly her mom’s best friend, and that friendship lives on eternally. Form early on, Steph was a strong-willed, happy-spirited girl, with blue eyes that would melt anyone’s heart. In 1982, Steph gained another best friend when Dave entered their life. A father figure that she continued to look up to until the end, Dave was the rock that grounded Steph. Kris and Dave’s unconditional love molded Steph into a fun-loving, independent, strong little girl, and that strong-willed girl became a caring, compassionate woman who, to the end, never gave up.
From the time she could walk, Steph had an enthusiasm for sports that was unsurpassed. Her unique competitive edge made her a standout jock and, by the time she was in high school, she was a phenom on the basketball court. With her mom forever in her corner as her biggest cheerleader, Step continued to shine. In 1994, her sophomore year, Steph was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her right, shooting arm. She underwent experimental surgery and over a year of chemotherapy and, to no one’s surprise, she beat the odds and was cancer free by 1996. After graduating from West High in 1997, she went on to attend Montana State University, where her love for sports was even more evident as she became an avid MSU Bobcat fan. She was the life of the party at MSU and, with her outgoing, party-girl personality, she made many forever friends. In 1999, Steph moved home to Billings and started work for Dave, at Ideal Manufacturing.
One year later, she met the love of her life, Nick Gold. Nick and Steph were a match made in heaven with their unequivocal love of sports and fierce competitiveness. Nick and Steph went to work for Chief Construction in 2001 and, in August of 2003, they were married in Billings. Nick and Steph were blessed with three beautiful children. In August of 2005, Connor Robert changed their world forever when he was taken away from them far too early. In December of 2006, they were blessed with their second angel, Kyleigh Kristine. Ky was the light of their life, a tender-hearted little girl who loves her mommy and daddy so much. Steph’s love for children was indescribable, and she went to work at Discovery Daycare in 2007, touching the lives of many children and families with her bright smile and loving personality. In October of 2011, Kyleigh became a big sister when Nick and Steph welcome Abbigail James into their world. It was soon realized that Abbi had her mom’s feisty attitude and an energy that lifted her mommy’s spirit every day.
In April of 2012, Steph received devastating news. After 18 years of being cancer free, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In a matter of three years, Steph underwent three rounds of chemotherapy, three major surgeries, numerous hospitalizations and specialized radiation therapy. Steph was found to have a rare genetic mutation called Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which results in a defect in her body’s natural tumor suppressor gene, therefore predisposing her to various cancers. Despite her underlying diagnosis, Steph continued to fight and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was ultimately her love for her children that pushed her to fight relentlessly. Steph endured more in her short 36 years than most people endure in a lifetime.
Family was everything to Steph, and her girls were her world. Steph was an amazing daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend and role model; she was inspiring, tough, funny, sweet and loving. The list truly is never-ending. Steph’s dedication to family was evident in the love she showed her four siblings. As the eldest of five, Steph was their mentor and protector, and they all looked up to their caring, witty big sis.
For anyone who knew Steph, you knew how infectious her smile and laugh were. She was always the center of the party, and every event with her became a memorable adventure. Her love of life and family will never be forgotten. She has left her mark here on earth and touched too many people to count. Steph’s legacy will live on forever through the hearts of those she touched, the ongoing battle that she fought and, most importantly, through the extraordinary spirit of her children. The concerts, games and parties will never be the same without you, Steph, but we promise to try our best to match up to our karaoke skills, continue to root on your Broncos, Bobcats, Buckeyes and UK Wildcats, and we will keep the Miller Lite ice cold.
Steph was preceded in death by her great-grandparents, Emory and Mary Aikin; grandparents Harold and Velma Miller; grandfather Robert “Bob” Lee Buehler; and her infant son, Connor Robert Gold. She is survived by her husband, Nick Gold; daughters Kyleigh and Abbigail Gold of Billings; mother Kristine Buehler of Billings; father Mark (Lori) Miller of Clackamas, Ore.; stepfather Dave Hoiness of Billings; grandmother Beverly Buehler (Don Stoppel) of Loveland, Colo.; siblings David Hoiness of Billings, Taylor Stoltz of Billings, AJ (Andy) Majors of Kansas City, Kan., Katey (Charles) Roehmer of Gresham, Ore.; uncle Jim (Debbie) Buehler of Loveland; in-laws Larry and Gary Gold of Sheridan, Wyo., Eric and Andi Gold of Fort Collins, Colo., Mark and Amy Loeding of Billings; numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
We would like to thank the Billings Clinic Cancer Center, the nurses in the Billings Clinic ICC, ICU, infusion center and RiverStone Hospice for their wonderful care of Stephanie over the last three years. A special thank you to Dr. Carol Arndt, Mayo Clinic Pediatric Oncology, for 21 years of care, friendship and support. Each and every one of you hold a place in our hearts, as we know she holds a special place in all of yours.
“Do not mourn my death, but celebrate my life,
for my life has been grand despite all my strife.
Do not be sad or shed another tear,
instead be happy and raise your glass in cheer.
Do not wear black, but for me wear Pink,
and I’ll look down on you and give you a wink.
Do not say Goodbye, rather until we meet again,
live each day to the fullest until then.
Remember me forever after I’m gone,
and keep on fighting, Always, Steph Strong”
In lieu of flowers, Steph has requested donations be made to the Kyleigh and Abbi College Fund, checks payable to College America FBO Kyleigh Gold or Abbi Gold, sent to NW Mutual Bob Rhyme, c/o Daniel Newman, 1873 S. Bell Air St., Suite 1600, Denver, CO 80222; or the Li-Fraumeni Foundation at www.lfsassociation.org/donate/.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 11, at King of Glory Lutheran Church, 4125 Grand Ave., in Billings. Immediately following the service, there will be a celebration of Steph’s life at 6875 Niehenke Ave, Billings, 59101.