20 Sep Local Hockey Community Mourns Death of League Photographer
By Elaine Veltri
Photographing his family and athletes was his passion. And now, Steven “Bigg Poppa” Lyda’s family and friends are grieving the loss of this kind and gentle giant.
“He absolutely loved taking pictures of hockey and he loved to be involved with GURHA,” said his wife, Lisa. “I have heard so many stories about his involvement at the rink.”
Steven served as the league photographer for Greer Upstate Recreational Hockey Association (GURHA). Steven could often be spotted snapping photos outside the boards at The Ice Station rink. Steven died Sept. 7 after a short illness.
“I have known Bigg Poppa a year, but that’s all it took for him to make it feel like a lifetime,” said League Manager Robert Magnus. “As our league photographer, Steven did an amazing job for us and captured some really great moments that we will be able to treasure forever. We will miss him being a fixture at the rink during our playoff and championship games. He was a pleasure to work with.”
Friend James “Jamie” Bertolini Sr. said Steven was excited to be a part of GURHA and looked forward to shooting at the rink.
“I knew Steven loved to shoot sports and I am so happy that he was able to do this,” said his friend, James “Jamie” Bertolini Sr. “I knew he loved hockey as we were able to share a couple of games together with him and his wife.”
Steven nicknamed himself after one of his favorite rappers, the Notorious B.I.G. “Big Poppa.” Friends and family described Steven as having a huge heart that matched his big Teddy Bear stature.
“He was always respectful and kind to me and my family,” Bertolini said. “No matter how many times I would tell him to call me Jamie, he insisted on ‘sir,’ ‘Pastor Jamie’ or ‘preacher.’”
Bertolini officiated over a vow renewal ceremony for Steven and Lisa in 2019 at Howard’s Rock in Clemson’s Death Valley.
“He put the surprise together for Lisa and he knocked her socks off,” Bertolini said.
Steven and Lisa were married for 33 years. Steven, the son of a Navy veteran, was born in Charleston and grew up in Gray Court, attending Laurens High School. He met his bride in her hometown of Woodruff. Lisa said she fell instantly in love with him.
“I know this sounds crazy, but it was his smile and personality that I fell in love with,” Lisa said. “I want people to remember my husband for how loving and caring a person he was. He would want people to be happy in this life until we meet him again. He would want them to be a good person and always believe in our savior, Jesus Christ.”
Lisa said her husband also worked at a local body shop, reviewing the vehicles before they left the building to ensure they were repaired and operating properly. He often stepped up to cover for fellow co-workers who took vacations, so they didn’t come back to an overload of work.
The couple enjoyed watching movies and Clemson football, riding motorcycles, and just being together.
“I just want him to be remembered as one of the best men I have ever known,” Lisa said. “I love him so much. We hardly did anything separately.”
Elaine Veltri is a freelance writer, blogger and retired journalist. She writes for a number of publications, covering everything from health and home to sports and life experiences. Before becoming a freelance writer/blogger, she covered crime, courts, health and senior issues for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, SC. Learn more at www.elaineveltri.com.