Robert Steven “Steve” VeHaun

07/02/1952 — 05/16/2022

From Kennewick, WA | Born in Spartanburg, SC

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Robert Steven “Steve” VeHaun


In the early hours of May 16, 2022 our good friend, Robert Steven (Steve) VeHaun, passed away. He was born July 2, 1952 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Steve was the third child of Mary and Walter VeHaun, joining his sister, Sharon Letitia (Tish) and brother, Walter Bernard, Jr. (Bernie). In 1955 the family moved north to pursue more opportunities, first to Portsmouth, OH, then to Pittsburgh, PA. Steve’s younger sister, Mary Katherine (Kathy) was born in 1956. After short stays in the South Park area of Pittsburgh and then a move to Maryland, the family returned to Monroeville, PA and planted roots. The neighborhood where the VeHauns lived was full of families, and Steve made lifelong friends there. He graduated from Gateway High School in 1970. Due to the COVID pandemic, his class’s 50th reunion was postponed until 2021 and Steve traveled to the event and received the prize for “coming the farthest”. He loved the time spent with his “old” classmates.

Following his high school graduation, Steve attended Penn State University. When his family relocated to Kennewick, WA in 1971, Steve chose to stay in Happy Valley to continue his college career, couch surfing for a few years. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in Marketing. Following graduation, Steve stayed in Pennsylvania for a time and hung out with his buddies who happened to be musicians. “Ve” as they called him, worked as a “roadie” for their band, Sweet Pain. The group toured PA, OH, NY and Canada and in the time together they all formed lasting friendships.

Eventually, Steve moved to Washington to reconnect with family and to pursue a career at Hanford. He was hired by Westinghouse Hanford in 1977 to be a Reactor Technician at the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) that was under construction. Steve was an integral part of the FFTF Operations department during construction, sodium fill, initial criticality, operation, shutdown defueling and decommissioning. He rose in the Operations ranks from Technician to Chief Operator/Engineer and Refueling Engineer. Steve made many friends at FFTF and he considered them his family. It was mutual. After his retirement, Steve was instrumental in organizing FFTF get-togethers.

Steve was an avid reader which started with comic books when he was a child. While his taste in book genres was varied, he particularly enjoyed mysteries.  Historical, technical and classic selections rated high with him, too. It was a good day when Steve discovered that the print on a Kindle could be enlarged for easier reading.

Growing up, Steve had a special fondness for his Mom’s southern desserts, especially the banana pudding, chocolate pound cake, and Irish potato cake. As an adult, spending time with his many friends was most important to Steve. Whether it was fishing, hunting, waterskiing, camping, enjoying many a pig roast, or sharing holiday meals with friends, Steve loved it all and always felt like the “more the merrier”.

Steve was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his brother, Bernie, sisters, Tish and Kathy, his FFTF family and his numerous collection of lifelong friends. He will forever be missed by so many. A celebration of life is planned at a later date.

You are invited to share a memory and sign the guestbook below.

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Robert Steven “Steve” VeHaun

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  • Good friend and co-worker at FFTF. Awesome to talk to and work with.

    Bernie Patterson
    August 3, 2022
  • Such a good sense of humor. He didn’t kill me after I filled out a Seismic III/I audit on him! Then there was the time I claimed his salmon fishing derby winner check at Long Beach……Steve was a good man.

    Mike Lawrence
    June 26, 2022
    Hastings, MN
  • I bowhunted with Steve back in the late 80’s. He helped me field-dress an elk into which I had placed an arrow just forward of it’s hips. Upon finding the cow before I could locate it, Steve hollered out a cry I shall never forget, “God! What Luck!”. Steve was a great hunting buddy…

    John Gibson
    June 14, 2022
    Dubois, WY
  • When the VeHaun family moved to Kennewick they became family. We spent most of my teen years camping, fishing, playing cards and enjoying Mary’s cooking. Steve came by his kindness and generosity naturally. While my Dad fought a debilitating disease Steve was always there to lend a hand and share a laugh. His respect for my father and love for my parents is something I will never forget.

    Nancy Sargent Hilmes
    June 12, 2022
    Kennewick, WA
  • I will miss you so much, big brother. You had a heart of gold, and so happy you were part of my life. Love you always, from your little sister.

    Kathy (VeHaun) Malmsten
    June 11, 2022
    Kirkland, WA
  • An easy friend to have and hold. Steve never ask for more than an occasional call to update him on what’s happening but would have given you anything in a time of need. He is already dearly missed. Loved that guy.

    Roger and Kathy Harris
    May 29, 2022
    The Woodlands, Tx
  • I met Steve in 1982 after moving to Kennewick. We enjoyed 7 years of boating, water skiing, playing cards and board games, and spending time with other FFTF friends. After returning to Montana, Steve made annual trips to visit us here. We logged many miles sharing our home state with him. He always marveled at how it could snow regardless of what month he visited!

    Steve was a wonderful friend and will be greatly missed. So fortunate to have had him in my life for 40 years.

    Jill Templeton

    Jill Templeton
    May 29, 2022
    Clancy, MT
  • Ve was a loving and caring friend we met when I was just 7 years old and he and my brother and myself became lifelong friends. We met many times through the years and we even traveled across country together with my daughters and friend. I also attended his50th school get together he spent the month here and everyone got to be together thank god. I will love and miss my friend forever and always will appreciate our friendship

    Donna Harshman
    May 29, 2022
    Bethel Park Pennsylvania

    Gary Buckley
    May 28, 2022
  • Steve will always be remembered as having a kind heart, always helpful, and a valued FFTF professional. Steve will be missed. May he rest in peace.

    Mike Rodriguez & Jan Pennock
    May 28, 2022
    Richland WA
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