ARVADA, Colo. — Carla Colette (Steffen) Tressell, 61, died Dec. 31, 2021, after a hardfought battle with ocular melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Carla was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, S.D., March 22, 1960, to Victor and Hilaria (Van Heek) Steffen and was raised on a farm near Constance. She graduated from Cedar Catholic High School, Hartington, and completed a two-year secretarial course at Wayne State College, Wayne, before boarding a Greyhound bus in 1980 to work a summer at the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colo. Falling in love with Colorado, she moved to Fort Collins and started working at Neodata Services, Inc. She worked several jobs during many company transitions for 18 years, before changing employers. While working at Neodata, the softball teams she played on became her family away from home. She went on to work in purchasing and administrative positions for companies in the travel and home healthcare industries until leaving the workforce in 2014, 18 months after her diagnosis of metastatic ocular melanoma.
She married her husband, James T. Tressell, March 4, 2000, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Northglenn, Colo. They shared the love of spectator sports and enjoying the Colorado outdoors. She was a college football fan and cheered on the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the good years and the not so good years. Carla and Jim were season ticket holders to the Colorado Mammoth lacrosse games for several years. They also shared their love for dogs. Jim encouraged Carla to go through training with their current dog Axle to be a pet therapy team. Carla and Axle then volunteered visiting patients and staff at Lutheran Medical Center, Collier Hospice and West Pines Rehabilitation Centers in Wheat Ridge, Colo.
When Carla was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2004, she approached it like everything else in her life, with energy, determination, and endless optimism. She began to research this rare type of cancer and continued to find treatments that allowed her to lead an active and joyful life. She was determined to find solutions and advocate not only for herself but for others with this condition and did so in numerous ways during the years she lived with the diagnosis.
She loved to travel and experience new places with Jim, including road trips to Colorado’s beautiful western slope, various National Parks in the western states, and to where her siblings and in-laws live in Nebraska, California, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Illinois. Family and friends from near and far were always welcome in their home and they happily shared their love of the mountains and related sports and activities. They also often traveled to Florida where Jim had lived for nine years after college. They traveled to Jamaica, the Caribbean, St. Lucia, Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, and Rome, Italy. After they found out her cancer had metastasized, they held a reunion in Colorado with all her siblings and their families and booked trips to both Alaska and Hawaii. In 2016, they took Carla’s dream trip, a river boat cruise through Germany and got to take in the sights of Prague and Paris. Her siblings and families held a reunion at Ponca State Park, Ponca, in May 2019.
Carla will be remembered for her kind and generous heart, an adventurous spirit, courage, a zest for life and occasional bouts of infectious giggles.
Carla is survived by her husband Jim and their dog, Axle, Arvada, Colo; four siblings and their spouses, Mary and Edward Sanders, Miami, Okla.; Rita and Robert Waibel, Minneapolis, Minn.; Kenneth and Joanne Steffen, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Michael and LuAnn Steffen, Laurel; father-in-law and mother-in-law, David and Lee Tressell, Galesburg, Ill.; brother-in-law, Mark and wife, Brianna, Galesburg, Ill.; and brother-in-law, Brad and wife, Beth, W. St. Paul, Minn. Never being blessed with children of her own, Carla loved her nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and two great-great-nephews to pieces.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Victor Steffen, Feb. 5, 2014, at the age of 96, and her mother, Hilaria Steffen, Oct. 31, 2015, at the age of 93.
Memorials may be made online or by check to: CURE OM at P.O. Box 719329, Philadelphia, PA 19171-9329. Please note Carla’s name in memo; Dr. Sato, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, 925 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. Please note Dr. Sato’s Uveal Melanoma Research in memo line; or St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Constance.