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Remembering California Performance Boater Steve Wallace

On Saturday, the West Coast performance boat community lost a beloved friend when Steve Wallace, the San Clemente, Calif., resident best known for his Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats 37 Stiletto Bada-Boom, died after a lengthy battle with tongue cancer that metastasized throughout his body.

The life of the party, Southern California boater Steve Wallace, who owned the incredible Bada-Boom Outerlimits 37 Stiletto, never had a bad day on the water. Photo by Jimmy Biro/Speedonthewater.com

Wallace, an U.S. Air Force veteran who turned 59 in March, is survived by his father, Brian Wallace, sister, Sally, wife, Patty McGee-Wallace, his children—Kyle (and his partner, Maribel, and their daughter, Annabelle), Cassidy and Garrett—and was preceded in death by his mother, Shirley, and his son, Sean.

“Steve was the most enthusiastic boat guy I’ve ever met and one of the most generous, inclusive, nicest human beings on the planet,” said Scott Shank, a Southern California boater who owned a 35-foot Shockwave Custom Boats with a pair of supercharged 700-hp Mercury Racing engines before recently purchasing Wallace’s Fountain Powerboats 48 Express Cruiser with twin Yanmar diesel engines. “We’re sure going to miss him. Steve was super family oriented and one of those more-the-merrier types who always invited as many people as he could whether it was to dinner or to go see one of his favorite heavy metal hair bands in concert.

“That’s what I loved best about Steve—he was so passionate about the things he loved, whether it was music, boats, sportscars, motorcycles and, of course, his business,” he added. “The best part about having him around was that he could fix anything. He always had tools on his boat and he was the first guy to come work on your boat if you needed assistance.”

A longtime active member of Southern California Offshore Powerboat Elite, Wallace, who owned Western Diagnostic Imaging Systems Inc., in Riverside, was a regular participant at the Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., where he owned a second home. In fact, he won several class titles at the Desert Storm Poker Run Shootout in his Outerlimits.

“Steve loved his boats—some of our family’s best memories are from our boating trips,” said McGee-Wallace, who married Wallace on February 14, 2004 during their trip to the Miami International Boat Show. “I remember the day he showed up in Parker (Ariz.), while we were there camping, with a new purple Warlock. He loved running that boat up and down the river. Our favorite thing to do was run up to the dam toward the end of the day and then float all the way downriver. We called it the Triple B hour because it was all about the birds, the bats and the bugs.”

Cassidy, who was listening to her mom’s conversation on the phone, chimed in with, “And he’d always play U2’s ‘Beautiful Day.’ He loved that song. I’ll never forget those days on the water with him.”

“Steve suffered for long time, and we are all sad he’s gone, but at least we know he’s not suffering any longer,” McGee-Wallace said, explaining that the family is planning a private ceremony to spread her husband’s ashes this weekend and then hopes to put together a larger celebration to honor him once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. “I don’t know if you know this, but Steve was an engineer in the medical field, and through his business we’ve probably had 100-plus people asking if we’re going to have a service. Then there’s the boating group, which is another 100-plus people who would like to pay their respects. Add in all of our neighbors, who have known Steve for decades, and you can imagine the love and support we’ve received over the past few days has been overwhelming—we’re so touched by everyone’s memories and how many people have offered to help if we need anything.

“We want to do something to celebrate Steve, but we want to do it right the way,” she continued, adding that Kyle is going to be carrying on the family business that Steve took over from his father 35 years ago. “We’re going to want a full video, a band and a chance for anyone to get up, take the mic and share their stories about Steve. He was always the life of the party so he deserves to have an incredible party in his honor.”

Check out the slideshow above for more images of Wallace courtesy of Jimmy Biro and Scott Shank.

McGee-Wallace pointed out that her husband never gave up in his fight. In fact, she said he always kept planning something because that way he continued to have something to look forward to because he wasn’t going to let his disease get the best of him.

“Steve was a courageous man, a warrior fighting cancer who never complained about any of the painful treatments doctors did trying to save him,” said Bill Steiner, a longtime S.C.O.P.E. board member, who also owns one of Wallace’s former boats, a 28-foot deck boat from Howard Custom Boats. “He was always so happy and positive, and he was probably the most generous man I’ve ever met in my life. He was always ready to help a boater in need and he was very handy. He worked on his own boats and he was available if a friend needed help with their boat.”

Jimmy Biro, another Southern California powerboat enthusiast and an occasional Speedonthewater.com contributor, said that Steve and Patty treated him and his wife, Laura, like friends from the day they met at a S.C.O.P.E. event several years ago.

“I’ve met a lot of successful people in this industry, and to this day, many of them wouldn’t remember my name; but not Steve—he was different,” Biro said. “He was the type of guy who, if he saw you standing by yourself and you didn’t know anybody at a party, he’d bring you over and introduce you to everyone he was with. He was a genuine, humble guy. I can probably count on both hands how many times I’ve hung out with him, but each time we saw him—even if it had been a couple of years—we’d pick up right away with subjects we talked about before such as work, family, boats, you name it. We’re going to miss him greatly.”

Although the family has something private planned because of COVID-19 restrictions currently in place, Shank did say that many of his friends in the boating community plan to celebrate Wallace at the guest dock in Dana Point at some point during the Fourth of July weekend.