Stephen S. Squillace, 1925 - 2017
Courtesy The Squillace Family Stephen S. Squillace, 1925 - 2017

Lighting designer Stephen S. Squillace died April 24, 2017. A noted lighting designer of his generation, he served as a teacher and a mentor for lighting designers and educators such as Jim Benya, Naomi Miller, David Di Laura, and Jan Gruel. His contributions were highlighted in Architectural Lighting’s 2002 Hall of Fame issue.

The obituary below was provided by Mr. Squillace’s family.

Stephen S. Squillace, age 91, died peacefully at St. John Macomb Hospital in Warren on April 24, 2017. Steve was born April 30, 1925, in Jersey City, N.J., the son of Giacomo and Paolene Squillace. After high school in 1943, he moved to Michigan to attend college. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering.

After graduation, Steve worked for the City of Detroit; Hyde & Bobbio, an architectural engineering company in Detroit; and Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, another architectural engineering company, also in Detroit until his retirement in 1985. After retirement he formed the LET Company, Lighting and Electrical Technology, where he did electrical legal consulting. Steve did the lighting design for many commercial projects in metro Detroit, including many churches, schools, and Northland and Eastland malls.

The United States Tennis Association approached him one time asking how indoor tennis courts could be lighted differently so the white tennis ball would be more visible. It was Steve’s recommendation to change the ball’s color to fluorescent yellow, the color widely used in the sport today.

Steve was very active in the Illuminating Engineering Society, serving as president of the organization in 1981. He also received the IES’s Louis B. Marks Award, was the first person named to the IES Michigan Chapter’s Hall of Fame, and was named by Architectural Lighting Magazine to its 2002 Hall of Fame issue. Steve had almost iconic status in the world of illumination engineering, establishing financial endowments that paved the way for many students to become lighting professionals. Steve served as a caring, compassionate mentor to countless professionals in the field today.

In 1950, he married Carolyn Tavernit at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Republic, PA. They had met on a blind date in Detroit. The family eventually settled in St. Clair Shores.

Steve loved to sing, and was a member of the St. Joan of Arc Choir for over 40 years; he spent some time in his retirement chronicling the development of that organization from its inception to the 21st century. He sang at all of his children’s weddings, and he loved to sing to his children and grandchildren, all of whom have fond memories of listening to his beautiful voice. He also enjoyed listening to opera and classical music, playing the violin and reading Westerns, especially Louis L’Amour stories.

Steve is survived by his wife Carol; their seven children: Sue Kawa (Mark), Mark Squillace (Maureen), Kathleen Jordan (John), Jean Schrage (John), Tom Squillace (Kathy), Patty Mallet (Gary), and Christine Hodge; 18 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; siblings: Mary Brown (Bob), Anna Amicone, and Joe Squillace, and his sister-in-law, Rose Squillace. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and Carol’s family. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother Mike Squillace.

The family has suggested, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Macomb County Library for the Blind, 40900 Romeo Plank Road, Clinton Township, MI 48038 or online at