Steve Coron: The Strength to Be Sensitive


Steve Coron sits in Sweetwaters Cafe across from CHS. Teaching is Steve’s passion, and it makes him happy to help his students learn and grow.

A 10-year-old boy sits in his aunt’s bedroom. She moves around the room, pulling a vinyl record out of a sleeve and putting it on a record player. As she sets the stylus into a groove, the soul of Motown music bounces around the walls and lights up the boy’s eyes. The music, forbidden at the time, helped to open Steve Coron’s mind to Black culture, and to the world.

Steve spent his childhood in a small town in northern Michigan. “I went to a high school [where] all the kids looked like me,” said Steve. But he was different from his classmates. “I always had this worldview. I wanted to see more and learn more about people and things and art.”

This open-mindedness didn’t earn him many friends in school. He was often made fun of for being a sensitive boy and for his interest in art and culture. However, his elders instilled in him qualities that allowed him to stand strong against the bullies.

“There’s one thing my grandfather told me,” Steve said. “He said never start fights. Don’t go around looking for fights. But if someone brings it to you, finish the fight.” This mentality gained him a reputation in school as a fighter.

But Steve was never a bully; his kindness and intelligence prevented that, and his reputation turned into one of a kind of anti-bully. “I used to finish the fights for all the other kids who I felt sorry for because they were being bullied,” Steve remembered. “I would beat up the bullies.” This was one of the first moments in his life where Steve’s strength, both mentally and physically, would allow him to do the right thing.

Although Steve fought often at school, he still says he had a great childhood. Much of this is probably due to his parents. Susie Coron ran a bank, and Paul Coron was a manager and safety coordinator in an iron mine. They taught Steve many lessons about strength and loving family, but one lesson he remembers especially well is about finding a career. “They always wanted me to love what I do,” Steve said. “They lived long enough to see that happen, so they must have felt really good about that.”

Running a bank in a small town as a woman was a huge accomplishment for Susie, and she always enjoyed her work. However, it wasn’t the same with Paul. “He was always caught in the middle of people fighting,” Steve said. “He retired early because he didn’t like his job in the iron mines. It’s hard work.”

This wasn’t the only hardship Steve had to watch his father fight. “My dad was also an alcoholic, and he struggled with that his whole life,” Steve said. “There was a lot of stress in our household. You can’t live in an alcoholic household and not feel stress.” Some part of Paul’s addiction might have been caused by his struggle to find something he loved to do. But Paul wasn’t the only one in his family who was affected by alcoholism.

“I’ve been sober 14 years, almost 15 years,” Steve said. But for many years before, he also was dependent on drinking. It took amazing willpower for him to stop, but his values and his strength allowed him to do it for his family. “They had to live with an alcoholic just like I did,” Steve said. “It’s not fun.”

He is glad for his decision to stop. “It’s probably one of the best things I ever did.”

Education has also played a large part in Steve’s life. Although only a few of his family members before him had gone on to college, he saw the benefits of college and knew he had to try it. “It opens your mind, your heart, soul, awareness,” Steve said. “It helps you gain employment, makes you a better citizen.”

It isn’t only advanced degrees that he values; Steve believes that any higher education is important to a good life. He has degrees from Northern, Eastern, and Washtenaw, and is working to get a master’s degree from Marygrove College.

Steve’s life has changed a lot through the years, but he feels that this is the most busy he’s ever been. “I feel like I have more things that I have to deal with now than ever because life gets complicated as you get older,” Steve said. What with running his framing business, teaching, working for his degree, and trying to hold on to friendships, he is juggling a lot of responsibilities. And with the loss of both his parents in the past three years, he is struggling with not being able to talk to them. “We are now the elders, which is kind of a weird place to be in, to think that we’re the ones that all the young people look to for help and support and guidance,” Steve said. “I like that, and I take delight in helping people like my students. [But] the people that you were always ready to call… those people are gone.”

It will take passion, love, and bravery to make it through these next years, but Steve can do it. Just like the boy who sat in his aunt’s room listening to forbidden records, he is strong and capable of continuing his goodness and strength.