Stephen Kreps spent decades of his life teaching lessons to generations of children he inspired during his time as a science teacher at Walter Hill School in the Swedesboro-Woolwich school district.
Even after his death, those lessons carry on.
On Friday, Mar. 22, the day of an annual teacher-student basketball game that Kreps took part in every year, he suffered a heart attack.
Students immediately alerted the teachers to his condition, who in turn began to administer CPR. Then, a nurse came in with AED Defibrillator. Paramedics arrived and took Kreps to Inspira-Woodbury.
He died a few days later at the age of 52.
These are the lessons his life and legacy leave behind.
Lesson 1: Make friends, you never know who they might end up being in your life.
Kreps family moved to Pitman in the early 1970s and at the age of 5, he befriended a young girl in the neighborhood named Melissa. The two quickly became friends and stayed that way throughout their childhood, going to the Christmas dance together — Kreps in his polyester leisure suit and plaid bell-bottom pants. However, at the end of Melissa’s eighth-grade year, her family moved to Germany after her father transferred jobs. Kreps would not see his friend for a very long time.
Lesson 2: Make the best of a second chance
It wasn’t long after Melissa’s family returned to Pitman that her friendship with Stephen would rekindle uniquely.
“His little brother happened to walk by at the exact time we were getting out of our car in the driveway,” Melissa explained. “The first time we went back to our house, we talked to him for a few minutes. Five minutes later, there is Steve nonchalantly walking on the other side of the street bouncing a basketball with his boombox trying to be subtle and act as if it was a coincidence.”
The two became close again, and stayed that way as Melissa went to college at Rutgers University and Steve attended Gloucester County College to become a teacher.
“We got married two months after I graduated college and he finished his first year of teaching lessons.”
The two would go on to have two sons, Jared, 21, and Tyler, 20.