Stephen Gregory Nunnink, age 74, of Baxter, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at home after an 18 year journey that began when he suffered a brain aneurysm in 2003.
Visitation will be Thursday, December 9, 2021 from 5-7 pm at Nelson-Doran Funeral Home in Brainerd. The memorial service will be held on Friday, December 10, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. at First Lutheran Church, Brainerd. Friends and family are invited to gather one hour prior to the service. The memorial service will also be live streamed on youtube at FLC Brainerd or on their Facebook page - First Lutheran Church of Brainerd, MN.
Stephen was born July 3, 1947 in Minneapolis, MN to Clement and Naoma (Rognstad) Nunnink. He graduated from Hopkins High School in 1965, where he lettered as a Hopkins Warrior in football, hockey, and baseball. He continued his education at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks on a football scholarship. In true Steve fashion, he moved on to plan B. While coaching the UND freshman football team he got the coaching bug and changed his major from pre-med to education. Steve graduated in 1971 with a BS in Education with an emphasis on Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. He made many lifelong friends during this time at UND.
Stephen started his teaching/coaching career at Park Center High School in Brooklyn Park, MN in 1971. This is when Steve and Ron Stolski started their coaching and lifelong friendship. Steve taught Biology, coached football and wrestling, and started their strength and conditioning program. In 1975, Stephen and Randi made the best decision of their lives and moved with the Stolskis to Brainerd. In the 27+ years as a Brainerd Warrior, he had various teaching positions. He helped establish the Warrior Strength program, which is used around the country, coached football, and hockey, and was the equipment manager for the 27 Warrior sports. He later received his Master’s Degree in Education. His leadership was widely recognized, earning him many awards; including, Brainerd Teacher of the Year and Minnesota state finalist, UND Tom Clifford Award for coaching excellence, Butch Nash Outstanding Assistant Football Coach, UND Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the 1966 Pecan Bowl championship team, National High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year, one of the two first Assistant Coaches to receive the MN State Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year Award, and Brainerd High School Sports Hall of Fame.
On a blind date in 1971, Stephen met the love of his life, Randi Asleson, and they married on June 17, 1972, in Moorhead, MN. While establishing their lives in Brainerd they had two beautiful daughters, Stephanie and Erika. Family was the most important thing to Steve, along with his faith, friends and football. He was an inspiration to many. He loved life and took pride in being called “Coach.” He always had time for anyone, no matter how busy he was, and made you feel important. It didn’t matter who you were, or your lot in life, he treated everyone with kindness and respect. He always had a smile on his face, was fun, quick witted, and always came “dressed” for the party. If, and when, he had any spare time he enjoyed listening to music, fishing, sailing, and photography. He exemplified the Warrior Spirit, for “Once a Warrior always a Warrior.”
He is preceded in death by his parents, Clement and Naoma; mother and father in-law, Ingeborg and Roland Asleson; brother, Peter; sister-in-law, Ruth Asleson; and brothers-in-law, A.D. Jones and David Paulson.
Left to cherish his memories are his wife of 49 years, Randi; daughters, Stephanie (Dustin) Dorn, Erika (Thomas) Nolan; 4 grandchildren, Kayli and Drew Dorn, Kamden and Kyler Nolan; sisters, Tricia (Dan) Smith and Nancy Nunnink-Jones; sisters-in-law, Suzan Nunnink, Mary Asleson-Nelson, Lois Paulson and Jane (Keith) Johnson; as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank CRMC Home Health Care and Hospice; especially Nikki, Megan, Camry, Tammi, and Jean for their love and care.
The family kindly requests that anyone attending either Thursday or Friday wear a mask.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to your favorite charity are preferred. A memorial fund is being set up in Steve's name and will be used to benefit children in the community.
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