Stieben ordeal ends in grief

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Hays businessman LaVerne Stieben died Sunday after a month-long ordeal following a heart attack he suffered Oct. 23.

The 61-year-old Stieben, part owner of Bieker Insurance Agency in Hays, was vacationing with his wife, Dorothy, in Cancun, Mexico, when he became ill.

Stieben underwent heart surgery in Cancun and was transferred Oct. 30 to Methodist DeBakey Heart Center in Houston, where he remained hospitalized until his death.

During that time, Stieben's family underwent a roller coaster ride in getting him back to the United States. He died from complications Sunday, 33 days after his heart attack.

Karen Casey, LaVerne Stieben's sister-in-law from Plainville, said her sister planned to be back in Hays today to make funeral arrangements.

Two more of Dorothy's six sisters -- Barbara Bieker and Mary Stoecklein -- live on the same block in north Hays as the Stiebens.

"It's going to leave a pretty big hole in this neighborhood," Ruth Moriarity, the Steibens' next-door neighbor, said of LaVerne's death. "It's like a big family on our block. He was the kind of guy who would help anybody."

LaVerne Stieben is survived by his wife and four grown children and their families. Three daughters live in the area, and a son lives in Colorado.