I am very sad to hear of Stephanie's passing. She was a mentor to me as a young professional at WJK Press. In fact, she interviewed and hired me for the position of Production Manager. I was inspired by her energy, wit, knowledge, and drive. She was always willing to take time to discuss anything that was on my mind - whether it was personal, or advice about how to do my job better. Her broad smile and sense of humor always made a positive impression. May her family find peace during this very difficult time and know that she made a positive, lasting impression on all of us who were lucky enough to call her friend.

I was saddened to learn my dear high school friend is no longer with us. We had a lot of fun when we were teenagers sitting on the front steps at her house and see what boys passed by. I remember her wedding at Annapolis. She was a beautiful bride. I remember she tossed her bouquet from a balcony. She and her husband walked under crossed swords. I am sorry we lost touch, but I am so glad we both attended our 40th reunion. Goodbye dear friend.

The day I met Stephanie,
as she and my wife and I walked on a beach,
I shamelessly pitched my first book.

It's a wonder
she did not flee into the ocean.
But instead she turned from me
and asked my wife,
"Is it a book?"

To which my bride replied,
"Not yet. But it could be with your help."

Stephanie let me send her the manuscript.
And when she responded,
she told me how much liked it.
She said she'd send a few suggestions,
but she was,
she assured me,
quite confident about the book's prospects
and quite excited.

I was not merely excited.
I was ecstatic,
sure now that my first,
and long-awaited,
book was about to be.

When her suggestions came,
she "suggested" throwing out seven (7)
of the twelve (12) chapters.
Seven of twelve,
most of the manuscript,
She also "suggested"
writing five new chapters
on five new topics.
As to the few surviving chapters,
they seemed to be on life-support,
since she "suggested"
each be drastically rewritten.

I thought to myself, "Goodness!"
(Or something like that.)
"I'm sure glad she liked the manuscript.
What would she have 'suggested'
if she had not?
Would burning the whole manuscript
have been enough
or would a nuclear explosion
have been required?

Then she patiently worked with me,
a would-be but not-yet author,
with plenty of bad ideas
and even more bad pages to be discarded
before we could bring forth the book
she saw long before I did.

She was the best of editors,
the best of listeners,
the best of friends.

I am now,
and I always shall be,
enormously indebted
to one of the most wonderful people
I ever met
or ever hope to know.

Without Stephanie,
that little book,
and two others that have followed,
never would have been.

Without Stephanie,
my life would have been quite different--
and far, far poorer.

God bless our Stephanie.
She sure blessed me.

Stephanie somehow managed to walk the line between friendship and professional editing with grace and skill. For me, she embodied the highest of professional competence while demonstrating true human compassion. I will always be indebted to her for her wisdom and attention to detail in the editing of Preachers and Misfits, Prophets and Thieves: The Minister in Southern Fiction. When I think of Stephanie, I think of the line from Barry Hannah's novel, Yonder Stands Your Orphan,"She lived a life that deserves a cathedral."
G. Lee Ramsey, Jr.
Memphis Theological Seminary

Jim Nelson recommended I work with Stephanie on my book, and she was a gifted editor. My favorite memory of developing the book was sitting next to a pool at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators in San Diego, drinking wine, and her careful and caring comments on a working manuscript. Her laughter mixed with honesty was wonderful.
Barbara Anne Keely
United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Dear Mike and Jon,
Jerry and I were deeply saddened to hear that your Mom had passed away. We hope all of your wonderful memories of her can help you through this difficult time.
Fondly, Pat Coghlan

Stephanie was a friend, an encourager, and a kindred spirit. She will be greatly missed.

I recognize in the comments posted here the person and the editor I liked so well -- with sadness about her death and with delight in her life. May Stephanie rest in peace, and may eternal light shine on her.

I've known Stephanie's sons since college, and was a fraternity brother of her youngest Jon. Living in N.Va. Jon, Kelly, Alex and Anna have become like family to my wife, Arada, and I. When Steph moved here a few years ago, Arada sold her the condo that she loved so much. She really felt at home in Arlington. We spent a lot of time together at kids birthday parties, holidays and our annual Labor Day trip to the Outer Banks. Steph loved the ocean so much. You could often find her at the end of the access watching the sun rise and set and for many hours after dark soaking in the night air. I don't know if she knows how much she meant to Arada and I and how much we enjoyed just being around her. She had a great sense of humor, a great outlook on life and was always willing to listen and give good advice. They say you can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends. Given the chance, we would have picked her to be both. You will be missed dearly Steph.

The news of Stephanie's death was very sad and painful. We had gotten into the habit of having a coffee or meal at the various professional meetings where we would discuss the state of publishing, of academic books, of universities, of theological education, of Christian ethics......and in between the Big Topics, there was plenty of humor and critical commentary!

She would always end these conversations by saying "when I am going to get a chance to edit your book?" I am so sad that this will never happen. However, I am sure that if there is a heaven close enough to life here on earth, ALL of its members will now be writing much, much better prose!

Stephanie, we will miss you.

I echo my colleague Michael West's comments. On my very first day in publishing, as an associate editor with Augsburg Books, I met Stephanie, Michael, Hal Rast, John Hollar, as they arrived in Minneapolis to discuss how the merger of the two Lutheran publishing houses would be reflected in the Augsburg and Fortress book programs. I knew from that very moment that Stephanie was, in many ways, the most formidable presence of the four--which is saying a lot, considering those personalities!

Since Stephanie chose not to join us in Minneapolis, many of the projects she was then shepherding made her way to my desk, and we wound up working together on numerous books during her tenure with Publisher's WorkGroup. During that time, she was not only a great mentor in publishing, to which I was still relatively new, but also a wonderful person to gossip with! I still recall her vivid descriptions of a trip to Italy she took during that time, of meals eaten along rural roads that made my mouth water.

Our contacts after that were less frequent, and more competitive, but I always recognized the formidable woman I met that first day. My last extended conversation with her, at the Academy of Homiletics, was the warmest we had in years--grateful for the second, though all too brief, chance at life, and warmly admiring of our shared histories and interests. That is the woman I will always admire and respect--and deeply miss. Her absence will be as deeply felt and her memory as profoundly cherished as those of John and Hal. Great people, all.

David B. Lott

My favorite memory of Stephanie is meeting over a glass of wine at an AAR gathering in New Orleans. We were talking about various book projects when I mentioned that my dog, Calvin, was writing his own book. Being a dog person, she immediately took interest, much to my surprise, and asked me to send what he had written. Calvin published the first hardbound book in the family! Stephanie and the WJK Press family were so gracious with him (and with me), bringing him to the Book Expo in Chicago to promote the book with his distinctive pawtograph.

What I loved about Stephanie was that she could be warm and friendly and fun as well as direct, candid, and honest. She always wanted the best for her authors and for the publishing company that employed her, whether Fortress or WJK Press. And by wanting the best from us, she gave the best to our readers.

As I earlier wrote to David Dobson, this is a great loss not only for those who worked with her, but to all of publishing. I offer my condolences to her family as well as her publishing family. And my hope is that in God's eternal embrace,Calvin is licking her face in welcome!

Chris Glaser
Atlanta, Georgia

On behalf of my colleagues at Fortress Press and myself, I want to extend our condolences to Stephanie's family, friends, and colleagues.

I myself have known Stephanie for more than twenty years--since she and Hal Rast and John Hollar hired me at Fortress Press (they were a great crew!)--and I have enjoyed her friendship so very much, especially since we share a somewhat wry outlook on life. She has always been affirmative and supportive of me and of Fortress Press, even while a strong competitor in publishing. I have admired her big projects most of all and her wonderful ability to put authors at ease, even as she demanded more effort from them.

I think that in these last several years, Stephanie had very much come to terms with her lifework, the great gifts and hard limits of theological publishing, and even her own mortality. She had seemed to me lately to be at peace with herself.

I miss Stephanie already, but I give thanks for her friendship and intelligence and her passionate honesty. She has been a great gift to all of us.

--Michael West

My fondest memory of Stepanie was of an dinnerwe shared in my home town of New York City sortly after we had wrapped up work on my third book for WJK. We met for burgers and beer, celebrated our collaboration, and told joke after endless joke. Her deep and unvarnished humanity came through so very clearly in this particular evening -- big smile, bright eyes, irreverent humor, indominable optimism -- and made me so very grateful that I could count on her both as an editor and as a friend. And if her children and grandchildren should read this page and they aren't already aware of it, let me tell you this: You all were the lights of her life.

My comments are tardy, since both my wife and I have been hospitalized. And with Stephanie's unexpected death, the tenderness and fragility of life are all the more real. As so many others have said, she was much more than an editor (though a superior one of those). She was a friend who graced, encouraged, nudged, laughed with, and made life become more of the gift that it is. She edited five of my books with gentle skill, and was waiting (overly-patiently) for more signs of a manuscript still in process. We have lost a terribly special person. We thank God for her days with us.
Jim Nelson, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (retired)

O Stephanie, how I will miss you. When I think back on all your assistance with the Book of Common Worship, electronic edition, and all your assistance, I still rejoice. You were such steady and pleasant help on that project.
I grieve with your family, and pray for them, and for you, in God's hands.

I was so saddened to learn of the passing of Stephanie. She was a high school friend who had a smile that could brighten any room and dimples that we were all envious of. We only saw each other at our high school reunions but the years melted away and we were 18 years old again. My heart goes out to her family, especially her children and grandchildren. With sincere sadness, Elaine Deramo

My contacts with Stephanie were too few and far between. As children we lived in the same part of town and I am so very fortunate to have reunited at our high school reunion several years ago. My daughter and I became awed by her genuine presence. Stephanie visited with me on her trips to Atlanta and we would share lovely meals together. She introduced me to Grey Goose....we found much laughter in that. We even talked about possible travel together. We shared intimate details of our lives, finding so much in common and so much that was not. I came to love her very much. Her move to be closer to her children and grandchildren was something she cherished. It saddens me deeply that they did not have more time. Yet, she is likely grateful for the time she had. What a wonderful heart. I am holding dear Stephanie and her entire family in the Light.

I join many others in voicing a grief that is deeply felt. Her passing is a reminder of the fragility of all life--but so soon, so unexpected. Stephanie edited five of my books, and we were getting set to work together on the revision of my Christian Ethics: A Historical Introduction. I last spoke with her in person at the SCE meeting in Chicago last January, and by telephone just three or four weeks ago. And now this. As others have said, she was a cracking good editor (I can imagine how she would edit even this statement!). Sometimes we'd argue, of course. But her judgment was typically sensitive and sensible. She helped me remember that a good editor is a writer's best friend. But she was such a good friend quite apart from being such a good editor. We'll all miss her very much.

Stephanie edited three of my books and my admiration for her skill, wisdom and affectionate support I will always remember. Her death, of course, was a shock. But her legacy lives on in work that many of us know was mightily improved upon by her touch. She cared for her authors, though not without being tough when necessary. I am truly thankful for her.

Some editors have the capacity, through their fine skills, to make an author's book better. Stephanie had an even deeper gift. She not only made the book better, she made the author a better person. She was my editor; she was my friend; I will miss her greatly.

Stephanie was my editor on several projects over the last 15 years. She was also a valued personal friend. We shared many meals together during which she got to know me well without ever seeming to pry or probe. She then helped me put my ideas into words that would express what I wanted to say. She would gently let me know when she felt an idea wouldn’t work and would greatly encourage me when she saw real potential.

Stephanie was the last person I talked to before I decided to stand for Moderator of the General Assembly. She shepherded my last two books through the process with wholehearted advocacy, knowing that some would consider them too controversial. My last book had just come off the press before she died.

My wife had long planned a party celebrating the publication of my most recent book. It took place Saturday, April 18. When our friends had gathered we spent a minute in silence, remembering Stephanie and praying for her beloved family.

Thank you Stephanie.

Jack Rogers
Professor of Theology Emeritus, San Francisco Theological Seminary
Moderator of the 123th General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

I grieve with Stephanie's family, and with the WJK/Geneva Press family. As I sit before one more manuscript that Stephanie and I were eager to work on together, I can only hope to imagine what she might have said about this paragraph, that example. I grieve with those who, like me, saw work that began as a flicker of inspiration emerge as a finished work, nourished by her keen insight, her unfailing honesty and warmth, and her uncanny intuition both for the author's voice and those who would read the words on the page. Over more lunches and afternoon coffee breaks than I can count, whether in Princeton or at far-flung academic conferences, Stephanie talked not only about books and publishing, but about our lives. What a joy to have been touched by such friendship and professional skill. What sadness to miss both.

I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Stephanie Egnotovich, one of the visionary editors who helped give birth to my book “Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations.”

I appreciated her knowledge, enthusiasm, intelligence, editorial sense, and commitment to building faith through books. “Equal Rites,” and by extension its editor, brought liberation to many lives and churches

In recent years Stephanie continued to give me editorial guidance with kindness and professionalism. I will miss her. With her passing, the world loses a great editor. She lives on in the hearts of those who knew her, and in the good books she brought into being.

I close with an excerpt from a funeral service in “Equal Rites,” words that Stephanie herself edited:

“Let the best that was her be renewed in strength in us.
May we now give to others the love that we no longer can give to her.
For the lives we lead are now her honor and her memorial.
She would bless our courage.
May we dwell in peace.
She would wish it so.”

The report of Stephanie's sudden death is altogether shocking. Little did we know last October when we had breakfast together at the AAR that it would be our last time of meeting face to face. Life has its own secrets. So we ought to cherish every moment we have with others since it may be our last meeting.
At the breakfast we sealed the time table for my edited volume "African American Theological Ethics" and the contract was signed soon thereafter. This was a much delayed project but Stephanie believed in its value from the beginning and never ceased prodding me to complete it. Thus, I will always be grateful for her encouragement, enthusiasm, and wise advice. But, most of all, I am grateful for the genuine love she demonstrated for her work and the respect she had for all with whom she worked. Few have embodied those virtues better than she. I join with her family and friends in mourning the passing of a wonderful soul and will always be grateful to God for the privilege of having known her.

I am stunned by this news. Stephanie was a dear, bright person who gave me her full attention and guidance on a project, although I knew she had numerous other things on her plate. When I experienced a personal tragedy during the writing of a book, Stephanie became not only wise editor, but a pastor to me. My work with her was one the finest professional associations I ever had.

Although our work in publishing overlapped only briefly, Stephanie was a joy to work with. The publishing world will miss her friendly smile and her skillful ways.

my heart is breaking/my mind stunned. yet another light has dimmed and left all of us better having been warmed by her light.

I will miss the extraordinary combination of quiet wisdom and sparkle that Stephanie brought to every conversation. I remember a lunch in San Diego that turned into a wonderful brainstorming session. We ranged across topics from African-American biblical hermeneutics to mujerista theology to homiletics. Her eagerness for dialogue about new authors and emergent fields was electrifying. A breakfast in New Haven last summer: it was early and her tea wasn’t ready, so perhaps she was edgy . . . and she allowed herself some hilarious dry asides about well-fed egos she had known and the seediness of the hotel in which she was staying. Stephanie was someone you could trust to provide nurture and candor in whatever doses were needed. We will be much the poorer without her.

This is indeed a loss for all of us who knew Stephanie. I appreciated her friendship and her careful attention to detail. We last shared a good bit of laughter over dinner in March at the Southwest AAR regional meeting a year or so ago. I will miss her and the many contributions she made to the academy and to the quality of Westminster John Knox press.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Untitled Document


  • Stephanie Egnotovich and Bill Coffin at Yale in 2005
  • Stephanie Egnotovich with Cornell West at AAR/SBL