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1937 David 2023

David Stephen

October 29, 1937 — May 28, 2023

David Stephen died at his home in Moore, South Carolina, on May 28, 2023. He was 85. He leaves Marian, his wife of more than 61 years, of the home; daughter Lisa (Kc Stanton) of Lawrence, Kansas; son Chris of St. Augustine, Florida; and grandson Theo of Salt Lake City, Utah. Dave loved model railroading, gardening and landscaping, painting, and preparing and hosting gourmet meals, but, most of all, he loved his family. A memorial service will take place this summer at Nazareth Presbyterian Church in Moore.

Dave was born on October 29, 1937—Friday’s child is loving and giving—in Rahway, New Jersey, to David and Clara Stephen, the second of three children. Typical of a middle child of that time, he had free rein through most of his childhood. He hung out with pilots as a youngster, which inspired his lifelong love of airplanes, particularly WWII aircraft and biplanes. He even learned to fly a plane before he learned to drive a car. Dave graduated from Scotch Plains High School in 1956 and studied business at Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. He served in the US Army from 1960 to 1963. He and Marian met while he was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, and they were married January 6, 1962.

After leaving the Army, Dave and Marian joined his parents and brother in Minneapolis, where Lisa and then Chris were born. Dave worked briefly in banking before finding that sales and advertising suited him better. He was a charming salesman and a creative marketer. The family moved across the Midwest as Dave’s career took them to Ohio, Indiana, Ohio again, and finally Kansas, where Dave and Marian lived for more than 26 years. Everywhere he lived, Dave was a loyal fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, regardless of their win/loss record.

Dave was very proud of both of his children (and, later, of his grandson Theo) and encouraged them in whatever they did. While the kids were growing up, he loved to take the family to the Jersey Shore for summer vacations. Chris and Lisa would stay behind at the little rental house on Long Beach Island while he and Marian went around the corner for a beer or three. Although we could never get him to take sunscreen seriously (SPF 4 is good, right?), everyone has wonderful memories of our time on Long Beach Island, including when Dave amazed all the kids at the beach with his enormous and intricate sandcastle creations.

In the early 1980s, Dave enthusiastically supported Marian’s decision to return to college and then begin her career as a social worker. He and Marian loved to travel. They repeatedly visited California’s wine regions and traveled to Italy, where they enjoyed taking a cooking class together and, of course, sampling Italy’s best wines. They also loved to host gourmet dinners that Dave had prepared—Dave’s dinners were a choice fundraising event at church, as were his landscape paintings.
Dave attended all of Chris’s baseball and soccer games, and after Chris became a chef, he loved to cook at home with Chris. He and Marian encouraged Lisa’s love of travel and even met her for a trip through Scotland in the early 1990s.

Theo’s birth in 1992 was one of the highlights of Dave’s life. He and Theo adored each other from the beginning. Dave would pick Theo up from school and take him out for English tea or to McDonald’s. He loved bringing Theo to the symphony with him and Marian—in both Kansas City and Salt Lake City—and he was thrilled to finally have someone who shared his love of model railroading. He and Theo spent countless hours in the basement working on their enormous and elaborate train layouts. They stayed close as Theo grew up. When Theo took a break from college, he lived with his grandparents for a year, becoming Dave and Marian’s tech support and general handyman and mechanic—they just had to tolerate Theo’s occasional reminders to throw out long-expired food.

A finally empty nest led Dave to adopt and fall in love with his first corgi, Ariel, whom Theo dubbed Cereal. Several other corgi friends joined the family after Cereal’s premature passing, including Duffy, Matilda, and, most recently, Ryder, a loyal corgi–German shepherd mix who will miss Dave terribly.
When Lisa and Theo moved to Salt Lake City in 2005, Dave and Marian joined them there. They enjoyed exploring their new state, made friends at a new church, and got used to the snow. They’d said they would stay in Salt Lake City until Theo graduated from high school. Sure enough, five days after Theo’s graduation, they moved to their biggest-ever house in Moore, where they made many new friends—in their neighborhood, through Nazareth Presbyterian Church, and at the local YMCA.

Dave lived his Christian faith in many and varied ways, likening himself to the apostle Barnabas the Encourager. He taught vacation Bible school and Sunday school to all ages. He and Marian were active in Prison Fellowship in two states for more than 20 years. He did construction work on mission trips in Ecuador and Puerto Rico. Later, he was able to actively model his faith to Theo on a joint mission trip to Pine Ridge, South Dakota. And, as everyone knows, Dave had both the look and personality to be an enthusiastic and charismatic Santa Claus, a role he relished for many Christmases.

Even after Dave’s health declined, he and Marian tried to stay as active as possible, traveling to Virginia to see Marian’s family and to Florida to visit his beloved sister Jane (who equally adored her little brother Davey). His brother John and his family visited Dave and Marian as often as possible. In addition to Marian, Lisa, Chris, and Theo, his survivors include nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, outlaws, other extended family, and many friends. We all will miss him.

Although Dave loved flowers, please consider honoring his memory by contributing to Habitat for Humanity, a cause he and Marian valued and contributed to for many years: www.habitat.org ; 1-800-HABITAT; Habitat for Humanity International, 322 W. Lamar St., Americus, GA 31709-3543.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Stephen, please visit our flower store.

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