A class act, Becky Stedman enjoys the quiet side of Park City
Becky Stedman stepped off the airplane on Christmas Day, 1974 into "the most beautiful winter wonderland picture I’ve ever witnessed." Alas, she wasn’t describing Park City. It was Sun Valley, Idaho, but her time there planted the seed for an adventure that would bring her to Park City five years later. Stedman and her husband moved to Park City in 1979, opened "Sneakers," a quaint little bar at the Park City Racquet Club, and wrote a chapter in this city’s history that aging locals recall with great nostalgia.
Stedman grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with her three sisters, Betty, Jan and Debbie, and brother, Bob. Her mother and stepfather still live there. She shares vivid childhood memories of playing with friends at a neighbor’s camp along the Amite River near town. "We’d swing out on a rope and jump into that muddy old river. One time we went crawfishing and the net came up full of snakes, and we looked down at our bodies and realized we were covered in leeches," she shivered. "But what I really hated were the big old cockroaches and that’s why I’ll never live there again."
After high school, Stedman attended Louisiana State University, graduating in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in business education. "I never did use that degree," she muses. "During my early college years I spent the summers in Panama City, Florida. My girlfriend and I worked at Captain Anderson’s Restaurant at night and walked the beaches during the day."
Stedman’s first venture out west was to Sun Valley in the summer of 1973. "My girlfriend and I wanted to go someplace different and her uncle lived in Sun Valley, so off we went. We were traveling fools from Baton Rouge. We lived in the dorms. It was so fun and we were so brave," chuckles Stedman.
She found work at a local restaurant, where she met Mark, her future husband. "He ran the catering business and I was his helper," she grins. The two shared many good times that summer. "It was so much fun and the town was so small and intimate then. Once Paul Newman came in the kitchen, it was not too long after he’d starred in ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ and entertained everyone by eating hard-boiled eggs."
She returned to college in the fall but was back the following winter. "I’d never seen snow before," says Stedman. "I thought this little girl from Baton Rouge had really hit the big time. I learned to ski and spent over 100 days on the slopes that winter," says Stedman. Her relationship with Mark blossomed over the next two years. They were married in 1976, shortly after her graduation from college, and set up housekeeping in Sun Valley.
"We were happy in Sun Valley, but Mark wanted to spread his wings and have his own business," says Stedman. "Some friends had moved to Park City, this sleepy little Utah ski town, and called to tell us it was starting to take off. We took everything we owned and moved here to start this private club because that’s what he wanted to do."
"Sneakers" was the original restaurant and bar at the Park City Racquet Club in Park Meadows. "We asked a few of the locals to help us out with a name for the place," says Stedman. "Vic Ayers came up with ‘Sneakers’ and it stuck." Far from the madding crowd on Main Street, it was the favored watering hole for many Park City locals for almost 15 years.
"What a wild ride we had with that club," she recalls with a gleam in her eye. "The endless dice games, the New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl parties, the ‘Cactus Whack’ golf tournament, the annual Martini Bash and the tipsy choir on Christmas Eves — those are all great memories."
Stedman, who has lived in Park Meadows since moving here, enjoys a quieter lifestyle now. She describes herself modestly. "I’m someone who likes to have fun and laugh when I’m out and about. When I’m home I’m more quiet and relaxed. Both situations make me happy."
For the last 10 years, Stedman has worked at the Egyptian Theatre Company on Main Street. She’s currently the business manager, but has been there through many changes. "I love the job," she says. "It’s allowed me to feed one of my passions, which is this old Egyptian Theatre."
Her other passion, she says, is her husband Mark. "I think that’s why we’ve been together for 30 years."
Stedman also talks with great enthusiasm about her sons, Michael and Robby. "One has graduated from the University of Utah and the other will soon," she notes proudly. She also coos about her new granddaughter, Ayden. In the same breath, she lists her parents, her siblings, and her friends. "Those are the people I love and want to spend time with," she concludes.
Her favorite thing to do in Park City these days is to listen to Randy Barton’s afternoon show on the local radio station. "I love to listen to his show," says Stedman. "He cracks me up. People will come up to my office and think I’m talking to myself and I’m really talking back to Randy on the radio."
The long-time Park City resident remains bullish on the town. "I still think Park City is a genuinely friendly and kind place to everybody that comes here," says Stedman. However, she shares a pet peeve that has reached epidemic proportions among Parkites. "I don’t like the traffic, especially at 5 o’clock," she grumbles. "It’s still not bad for me because I know how to get around it. We’re still not anywhere near Los Angeles or even Baton Rouge. We got so spoiled and now it’s not as simple as it used to be. But it was inevitable that people would find this place because it’s perfect for raising kids and it’s beautiful."
Born: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, one of five children
Family: Husband Mark. Two sons, Michael and Robby
Hobbies: Golf, walking, travel
Favorite food: Seafood, especially peel-and-eat shrimp and raw oysters
Favorite color: Red. "Yes, I’m a Utes fan."
Pets: One Beta fish. "The boys had dogs and cats growing up. We’re still cleaning up the mess."
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.