University of Nebraska Medical Center

Good-bye, Steven Bridges, Master of the Study Dragons

Contributed by Dawn Wilson

ReadFor almost thirty years, Steven Bridges was the outgoing welcoming face at the McGoogan Library. He always came to work excited to see his friends, the students, the staff, and he knew most people by name, if not also their pets and parents. Steven was our in-house storyteller. He went on weekly “adventures”. He was accident prone, so his adventures always had a punch line, a sudden stop at the bottom of Long’s Peak (twice), or a very angry turkey. He supported all our students because he knew that, someday, that med student might end up caring for a loved one, or that researcher might cure cancer. Steve made sure everyone knew it was okay to get frustrated and exhausted, but that he was always here to listen and support them; he had the ultimate faith that everyone here will succeed. During test weeks, his favorite thing to say was, “Are you stressed? Because you can’t stay if you’re not stressed!”

When the young daughter of Steve’s childhood friend had cancer, Steve flew to England to help the family through the treatments, and while he was there, he and Kara made creatures out of pipe cleaners. These creatures started as guardian dragons, and then became study dragons, to help keep all the students focused. The thing about a study dragon is that it is supportive, so long as you try your hardest, but the second you lose focus or goof off, it’ll light you on fire and eat you. (That’s motivational!) He tirelessly “hatched” them—because they are magical creatures, they are not “made”—and occasionally created special creatures for our regular studiers, such as a dangerous giraffe or a study Pegasus. Every student has a power color, and the dragons would find their rightful humans. Steve always said, “They love riding in cars because it makes them feel like they’re going fast. They like to sit in holiday trees. And if you ever get four, you might wake up in the morning to music because they like to sing four-part harmony to greet the day.”

Steve's Dragons FlowersSteve passed away on Sunday May 25 after a heart attack, but he touched so many lives and supported so many people that we are all reaching out to each other right now, continuing to tell his stories and laugh while we cry. If you have a fun memory or a story about Steve, please stop by the library to sign our memory book, which we plan to give to his parents to show them just how many people cared about him. We are also including photos of students with their study dragons, if you want to send pictures of your dragons to askus@unmc.edu, we will make sure they are included.

These are some of Steve’s beliefs that he shared over the years:

  • Never do laundry on your day off because you don’t get enough time to do fun stuff anyway.
  • Drive safe, but if you can’t, honk the horn a lot.
  • It’s your workplace or study place, so go out of your way to make the place a great environment; you deserve to be happy at work.
  • These aren’t just students. One day they’re going to be taking care of the health of our loved ones or maybe cure cancer.
  • If someone is mean or grumpy or self-absorbed, keep digging. Eventually they will be excited to visit the library and talk about hockey or polar bears or whatever. Interpersonal relations are the most important.
  • Express your appreciation, tell the people you love that you love them, and show it, too.
  • The wooly bear always knows what winter is going to be like.
  • Animals do have souls because they have a great sense of play.
  • Dragons do not understand the significance of cats.
  • There is a God because nature has laws and if there are laws, there is a law maker.


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