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Celebrating the life of

Stephen L. Ummel

November 20, 1941 - March 22, 2024

Stephen L. Ummel

Stephen L. Ummel, age 82, passed away peacefully on Friday, March 22, at his home on Skidaway Island, Georgia.

Stephen was born to Dr. Clinton Louis and Mary Ann (Howick) Ummel on Nov 20, 1941, in Des Moines, Iowa. There, he graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1959 and then from Drake University in 1963. He went on to earn his MA in hospital and health administration from The University of Iowa in 1965. It was during his administrative residency in Greeley, Colorado, that he met his wife-to-be, Sandra Kay Bunda, from Fort Dodge, Iowa. They married on August 21, 1965.

Stephen is survived by his wife, Sandra, and four children, beginning with twins Scott Douglas Ummel, Evanston, IL, and Christine Beth Achterkirch, Houston, TX; Andrea Lynn Grage, St. Louis Park, MN; and, Sarah Ann Berg, Savannah, GA. Their spouses, also surviving, are Jeanne Hughes, Ian Achterkirch, Michael Grage, and Blake Berg. He leaves grandchildren (13) Meredith Johnson (Andy), Peter Achterkirch, Charlotte Achterkirch, Claire Achterkirch, David Achterkirch, William Ummel, Louisa Ummel, Nathaniel Ummel, Neale Grage, Gwyneth Grage, Henry Berg, Katherine Berg and Charles Berg. He leaves a great-grandchild, Freya Johnson. He is also survived by his sister Diane Strandberg (Gene), Lakewood Ranch, FL.

Regarded as a successful and transformative leader, Stephen had a distinguished 46-year career in the healthcare industry. He began with Ohio Valley Hospital (Steubenville), followed by Rockford Memorial Hospital (Illinois) and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and then subsequent positions as president and CEO at Memorial Hospital (South Bend, Indiana) and Memorial Health Services (Long Beach, California). As president and CEO of Lutheran General Health System in Chicagoland, he was pivotal in the creation of Advocate Health Care, one of America’s finest integrated healthcare systems. He went on to hold leadership positions at the consulting practices of Ernst & Young and PriceWaterhouseCoopers until his retirement in 2016. 

Despite the demands of his career, Stephen maintained a strong commitment to higher education. He served on the boards of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and Warren Wilson College and was a founding member of the University of Iowa College of Public Health’s board of advisors. One of his most cherished awards was being named a Distinguished Alumni of the University of Iowa for “embodying” the best of Iowa: a strong commitment to excellence, deeply held values, and a sincere interest in others.”

Following retirement, Stephen relocated from Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive to The Landings Club on Skidaway Island. He loved spending time with Sandy; serving his church; supporting and encouraging his grandchildren at sporting events, at graduations, and over social media; golfing with his friend Barry; catalyzing the next tailgate, fishing trip, campus visit, or family reunion; advising on new cars and colleges (his favorite); grilling on the porch; having a drink; relaxing with a book; and tuning in the Hawkeyes. 

Thank you for everything, Tata, your hard work, your integrity, and your profound love for our family. We will miss and love you forever.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in memory of Stephen Ummel to:

  • Cleveland Clinic’s General Surgery Department. Gifts can be sent to Cleveland Clinic Foundation, P.O. Box 931517, Cleveland, OH 44193-1655 or made online at give.ccf.orgPlease include Stephen’s name and General Surgery Department in the memo section on the check.
  • Global Methodist Church in care of Skidaway Island Methodist Church, 54 Diamond Causeway, Savannah, Georgia 31411. Please include Stephen’s name and South Georgia Conference in the memo section of the check. 




We are so sorry to hear of Steve’s passing. We got to know and respect Steve during our shared journey through disaffiliation and reaffiliation. He was dedicated and bright. We enjoined sharing our discoveries. May God give your family peace and comfort as you go through this most difficult time.

- Bonnie and Larry Nesbitt, Tybee Island, Georgia

Sandy and family. It was shocking and saddening when Steve passed, and losing him certainly leaves a void. Over the years we developed a camaraderie centered on “the court” as he would say, home maintenance and repair, politics, and cars and I will certainly miss his presence. My heartfelt sympathy to you all on his passing.

- Les Carter, Savannah, GA

I was so sorry to lose Steve as a friend and neighbor. Whether encountering him outside or via email or phone, Steve was always so upbeat and ready to help. His long, successful career in healthcare made him an invaluable source of advice. No matter the subject, Steve showed his good humor, good nature and deeply held values. I will miss him.

- Beth Mowry, Savannah, GA

Sandy, It was a real shock to hear of Steve's passing. He was so wonderful and caring, and quickly became a very supportive friend and mentor to me. Our engagement was too short but very impactful, as he was a man with great depth and kindness. I know he will be dearly missed and wish you and your family my deepest condolences and sincere wishes for ongoing peace.

- Bob Kolbe, TAMPA, FL

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel