Never met the man, so such personal qualities as Steve Appleton had could only be extrapolated, from this vantage, from what public actions he made. Without getting into the kind of hagiography normal for the recently deceased, especially for the successful recently deceased, there are a few things that might be said, even from a distance.
Appleton was CEO of Micron Technology at Boise from 1994 until he died earlier today piloting an experimental aircraft. The first notable point is simply that time line: 17 years leading a large corporation in a highly challenging and fast-changing field. That's remarkable by itself. So is the stick-to-it nature. He evidently dug in and devoted himself, to considerable part, to making this one corporation work.
It did that, and without the kind of ceaseless grabbing so many large CEOs seem to embrace. There was no ripping and running here, no obsession with financial twists. Micron started and spun off a few subsidiaries, but it stuck to knitting. It made something (well, several related things), something useful, and still does.
Micron shipped a lot of jobs overseas in recent years, but much of its core remains where it began, in Boise. You have to think that Appleton, who was not simply a title holder but - in the latter years at least - the dominant figure, was responsible for that. At least in considerable part.
Our assessment of these matters may come into clearer focus as his successor sets a direction. For now, Boise can only watch, and see. And offer condolences.