Our beloved father, Joseph Evan Stephens, returned to the waiting arms of our Heavenly Father on Monday, June 4, 2018. Dad passed peacefully away in the early morning hours surrounded by family. He was born in the family home in Tooele to goodly parents, Joseph Matthew Stephens and Martha Wilcox Stephens, on May 26, 1923, and had just celebrated his 95th birthday.
He attended Tooele schools and is remembered as excelling in athletic and academics. Dad was the last of the “Stephens Boys,” a recognition of great honor. He entered the U.S. Navy in December 1941 during his senior year and served with great pride during World War II aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Dad, like several of the senior boys, was recognized at graduation with a flag on his empty chair. He met LaRae Anderson, a beautiful, blue-eyed girl from Grantsville, and married her on Aug. 1, 1944. Mother was the great love of his life and they were married for 68 happy years. Their marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple in February 1964. Dad is father to two children, Teresa (Harry) Shinton and James (Shauna) Stephens; grandfather to seven, and great grandfather to 23, all whom loved him fiercely.
Following his honorable release from the Navy, he enrolled at the University of Utah, graduating with a degree in biology. He began a three-decades long career in education in the Tooele County School District, starting as a sixth-grade teacher at Deseret Chemical and Central elementary schools. While at Deseret, he also filled the position of part-time kitchen help, custodian, maintenance man and principal. He later served as principal of both Harris and East elementary schools and retired in 1986 as the school district Assistant Superintendent. He loved the youth and always had an innate ability to relate to them. He was devoted to their education. Several elementary schools, the Tooele High School auditorium and Grantsville High School were constructed under his leadership.
After retirement, he enjoyed his beautiful yard and garden, which was the envy of all who passed by. Mother and Dad spent their winters in Yuma, Arizona, and made many lasting friendships.
Dad is preceded in death by his beloved wife, LaRae; his parents; brothers, John and Jim; his two sisters, Josephine McNichols and Lucy Ellington Williams; and his grandson Todd Stephens. The heavens were rocking with their joyous reunion!
Funeral services will be held at the LDS chapel, 1025 W. Utah Ave., on June 8, 2018, at 12 p.m. following a viewing at the church from 10:30-11:45 a.m. Graveside services and burial will follow at the Tooele City Cemetery. Earthly mission accomplished Dad. Well done.