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I can't believe it has taken me so long to get this news and my shock and sadness is now so delayed... I first met Stephen in Belgium at Banana conference -- at the time I thought how can there be whole conference about bananas, but Steve was a patient teacher who knew how to bring in allies, explain details to new organizers and never let go of his deep commitment to worker's rights and dignity. He was a fierce and loyal friend who could disagree with you but stay engaged all the time. I'm so sorry for Kim and the boys and LEAP and all of us who have lost a dear friend and comrade. Kirsten (Global Exchange)

I first met Stephen as a young intern working for Kim Bobo at Bread for the World in NYC, in 1980. I was glad to see him many years later, when he visited me a couple of times at the Open Society Foundations. I did not know him well, but his life-long commitment to social justice was both admirable and courageous. I remember watching the 1980 presidential election returns at his and Kim's apartment, and most vividly recall him storming out of the room with the announcement, if my memory serves, that John Culver had lost his Senate seat.

My best wishes go to Kim and his family, and to all his friends and colleagues whose lives will be less without him.

About Stephen:
There is a small group of gringos who listen well, who can get into other cultures deeply, who understand what equal partnership across borders mean, and hence who earn deep respect of allies in other countries. Steve Coats was at the top of that small group. I met him in the 1980s, when GLEP (now USLEAP) was taking off and when a number of us were founding what has become the International Labor Rights Forum. As we created new instruments in U.S. law to challenge worker rights abuses overseas, Steve was there with his Guatemalan allies to test it. As that fight evolved into the free trade fights with Mexico and then Central America, Steve was a key go-between for the groups in different nations. Every step of the way, he modeled what true partnership looked like. When he needed to be in the background, he was in the background. When he needed to step up, he stepped up. He has been a key force in the advance of worker rights in this hemisphere, and in the understanding among our movements. He lives on in this work.
- John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies

It's been a couple days and I'm still trying to absorb this loss. Stephen was a friend and mentor, as well as colleague for so many years, there's just this huge hole in the universe now, a space that should be filled with his chuckles and friendly presence, but is now empty. I'm also realizing now, as I read these lists and tributes, how many other people are in my life due to Stephen - he really brought people toether. there are not many people in the world like him. he will be missed beyond words....

I met Steve in 2009 while working for the World Banana Forum, a challenging project aiming at a more sustainable global production and trade of bananas. I saw him for the last time six months ago in Chicago... Steve was a reference for many, the man with the warm sight and always open to understand each other needs. Someone as sensitive as sensible. I am glad that we crossed our paths and shared some time together and I am sure that his efforts have helped many workers and will still do so. Te echaremos de menos, Steve. Descansa en paz.

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