One of the DPW crew and a founder of Black Rock Solar and Burners Without Borders, Scott Stephenson aka “Spoono” passed away on the Playa last night. He had been up in Gerlach and on the Playa since April. Pershing County officials said he appeared to have died of natural causes.
It sounds like he was a hard worker and generous to his mates. Our condolences to his family and friends.
Re-blogged from Voices of Burning Man:
Burning Man announced today the loss of beloved Department of Public Works staff member Scott “Spoono” Stephenson. Spoono passed away overnight on the playa, in the city he loved most.
Stephenson was in his late 50s and died of apparent natural causes, according to Pershing County officials. Stephenson had been in Gerlach and on the playa since April supporting construction of Black Rock City. His passing will have an enormous impact on the Burning Man community.
“Spoono has been a fixture of our DPW since 2005,” said Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell. “In 2005 he was one of the first to depart for Mississippi to help residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, working, among other things, as a cook for the team that grew to become Burners Without Borders. He will be missed by many of us including myself.”
Spoono was a founding crew member of Black Rock Solar, working tirelessly to install solar arrays across Nevada for those who would benefit most — schools, hospitals, tribes, and other non-profit organizations — for six years. He’d been a runner for DPW’s purchasing department for 10 years and cooked for work weekends for equally as long, as well as handling cooking for early arrival crews on the ranch for several years. He was on point to cook for the Man crew when we had to rebuild the man in 2007.
“Spoon was a deeply generous man, with a huge heart, who gave so much love and care though his food,” said Tom Price, one of the founders of Burners Without Borders and founding Executive Director of Black Rock Solar. “He was a miracle worker with food — I once watched him feed 15 volunteers for a week with only $50. He always worked himself to exhaustion, but didn’t have a lick of quit in him — there was never a morning you woke up he didn’t have coffee on, strong enough to strip paint. And if you were really good, or really lucky, it came with a side of piping hot beignets.”
Spoono embodied the best of Burning Man values and culture. He was generous to a fault, giving all that he had to the community he loved. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Burning Man is providing support and grief counseling to staff and volunteers on the playa during this difficult time.
Plans for a celebration of life and memorial service will be announced shortly.
More coverage at the Reno Gazette-Journal.
[Update 8/22/15 11:26am]
NBC reports that the cause of death is under investigation.
Pershing County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Stephens told NBC News that a man died on the site, but declined to identify him and said the cause of death was under investigation.
Anytime someone under 60 dies outside a medical setting their is an investigation. It means nothing.
I am sure he’ll be well represented in the Temple this year. When I have to go, I hope it’s in a place I love, like the playa.
RIP. I might imagine the sadness of his mates on the playa constructing Black Rock City in due of the death of this awesome person and Burner. Might a kickstarter be done, purposed to assist his family to be on the playa for his memorial, and for the burn of the Temple of Promise, I am certain Burners would donate in an awesome manner.
It’s not natural for a healthy-looking 50 something man to just die. I don’t know how Pershing County officials can say it was from apparently natural causes. Why even speculate?
Fuck off Grub, you know nothing. Spoono had health issues all year. His loss is a shock, but that he went of natural causes is not.
He was such such an awesome guy that I refuse to let his death be fuel for your impotent little conspiracy theory.
Someone’s cause of death is unknown until it’s known, and people shouldn’t speculate on what appears to be the cause.
What if it was BUG BITES???
That’s what I was thinking, he could have been allergic to bug bites. You can never underestimate BMorg’s compulsive need to spin everything. By stating ‘natural causes’ what they’re really saying is, ‘it had nothing to do with the event.’
If often times sounds incredibly cynical to point out things that are incredibly cynical.
True that.. spoono has had health issues for the last couple years and his death is really bumming us out..
Please keep speculation inside yourself.