|Stepping to the beat of a different drummer throughout his entire life, Bill E. Stephens' unique soundtrack was silenced at 8:05 p.m. Friday, October 8, 2010. Surrounded by friends and family Bill's fight with cancer ended at the Galesburg home he shared with his wife, Lisa.
Bill, who was also a resident of Nekoma, Ill., recently celebrated his 63rd birthday.
He was born September 23, 1947 in East Moline, Ill., the son of John and Doris Bray Stephens. After the death of his mother, when he was five, his father remarried and Bill was raised by his father and second mother, Audrey. Bill married Alice Kellet in 1969. He later married Lisa Larson in 1998.
Bill is survived by his wife, Lisa, two sons, Zachary (and Amy) Larson of Geneseo, Ill. and Jacob Larson of Chicago, a grandson, Ben Larson, a brother, Scott (and Jennifer Jackson) Stephens of Rock Island, Ill., a sister, Ruth (and Tim) DeJonghe of Garrison, Minn., his mother-in-law, Delores Rodenhouser of Knoxville, Ill., and many beloved nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and devoted friends. He was preceded in death by his dad and two moms.
Bill graduated from United Township High School in East Moline in 1965. He earned his bachelors degree in mathematics from Augustana College in 1969.
For many years, Bill worked as an orderly for Galesburg Cottage Hospital while owning and operating Stephens Lawn Care. After graduating from Carl Sandburg College in 1996, Bill worked as a Registered Professional Nurse at Cottage Hospital, Genesis Health Care, and, most recently, for OSF Home Health Care.
Bill was a supporter of the arts and was a member of the Galesburg Civic Art Center. Many will remember him for his annual stilt walking at Art in the Park. Each year he found someone to whom to teach the skill. He was a member and volunteer for the Audubon Society and participated in the annual Spring Bird Count, most recently "birding" in Whiteside County. He was also a member of the Nature Conservancy. Bill enjoyed bee keeping, kite flying, bicycling, traveling, and camping.
A living celebration was held at the Galesburg house on September 25, 2010. Bill enjoyed music, friends and relatives who attended. A remembrance gathering has been planned, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at McGillacuddy's, in Galesburg. Memorials may be made to the Nature Conservancy, 4245 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203. Online condolences may be made at www.h-p-w.com and sympathy cards may be sent care of Hinchliff-Pearson-West, Inc.
If wealth was measured by the quantity and quality of friends, then Bill Stephens was one of Galesburg's most prosperous residents. His unique soundtrack has touched the hearts of many and will resonate with every "Beull" memory. "SMOKAMOTO"!