Dale “Stem” Stemwedel was born on November 14, 1946 in Sonoma and passed away on March 9, 2020 in Eureka. Stem joined the Navy in 1964 and spent 1 year in Vietnam. While he was stationed at NAVFAC Centerville Beach, he met and married Polly Chance and decided to make Ferndale his home. After getting out of the military, he went back to work at NAVFAC Centerville Beach as a civil employee as the water/sewage treatment operator. He retired from the federal government in 1996, when they closed the naval facility.

Stem & Polly had bought Lentz Department Store, in Ferndale, in November 1988. After he retired, he joined his wife at the store until they closed it down in 2015.

Stem was known for his amazing collection of antique radios that he had on display at their store. He loved to show them off and talk to the customers about them. One of his favorite pastimes were going to the auctions at Carl Johnson’s. He was the sweetest man that loved to help others in need. Stem was known by many friends and family as the “handy little man.”

Stem was survived by his wife of 50 years, Polly Chance Stemwedel; daughter Tammy & Ken Dayacamos; son Danny & Danielle Stemwedel; and three very loved grandchildren – Chloe, Ryan & Charlee Lynn. He was preceded in death by his parents, in-laws, four brothers and a sister.

There will be a graveside service on March 23, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. at the Ferndale Cemetery, with a reception following at the Veteran’s Hall in Ferndale. All friends and family are welcome. In lieu of flowers, we are asking for people to either donate to the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department or a charity of their choice.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Dale Stemwedel’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.