William J. Stephens 1924 - 2008 Lawrence
A memorial service for William J. Stephens, 85, Lawrence, will be at noon Monday at the Trinity Episcopal Church. Burial will be at the Trinity Episcopal Church columbarium.Mr. Stephens died Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008, at his home.He was born June 28, 1924, in Jacksonville, Texas, the son of Dr. William J. and Ruth Elizabeth Stoker Stephens. He graduated from Jacksonville High School, and from the University of North Texas in 1949 with a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance. He later studied at the University of Colorado, where he was assistant instructor in organ.Mr. Stephens served in the Navy during World War II as a gunner’s mate second class in the Pacific Theater. He taught public school music in South Texas, was the organist-choirmaster of the Trinity Episcopal Church and Trinity Lutheran Church in Victoria, Texas, and was the South Texas representative for the Reuter Organ Company. He moved his family to Lawrence in 1968 and installed Reuter pipe organs in 49 of the 50 states. He operated an organ building and maintenance service business in the Midwest. He also served as organist-choirmaster at Grace Episcopal Church in Ottawa for three years.Mr. Stephens was a longtime member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Lawrence. With associate Paul Caviness, he built the pipe organ in the church’s chapel and enlarged the Reuter organ in the church. He also had rebuilt the organ at Trinity Episcopal Church in Aurora, Ill., after it had been water-soaked and inoperable for many years. He was recognized by Christ Church Cathedral in Houston when he retired after 40 years as curator of organs. He married Mary Elizabeth Durett in Denton, Texas, on Nov. 19, 1946. She survives, of the home.Other survivors include two sons; William J. III and wife Marilyn, of Honey Grove, Texas, and Guy Walter and wife Janet, of Aurora, Ill.; three daughters; Cecily Stephens and Bob Overby of Pittsburg, Shirley Stephens-Mock and husband Stuart, Golden, Colo., and Amy Monroy of Kansas City, Kan; a sister, Esther Honeycutt, Albuquerque, N.M.; four grandchildren, Scott, Matthew and Hannah Stephens and Elsa Monroy; two great-grandchildren, Saxon and Jagar Stephens; and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.The family suggests memorials to the Trinity Episcopal Church Music Program, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home.Online condolences may be sent at rumsey-yost.com.