John Stephenson

Obituary of John Stephenson

John “Toppy” Stephenson, a White Salmon area resident for over 65 years, passed away on September 8, 2020 in Portland, Oregon at the age of 82. Toppy was born in Sayre, Oklahoma on August 25, 1938 during a tumultuous period of American history. The 14th child of James and Bessie (Courtney) Stephenson entered the world as dust storms and hunger were pushing millions of families east in the hope of work. After a short stop in Arizona, the Stephensons settled in White Salmon. Three more brothers would follow Toppy into the world. He fondly remembered the hub of activity in their crowded home and developed quick reflexes for biscuit grabbing at dinner time. He never lost his love of a simple meal of red beans. Love of family would remain the constant throughout his life. After high school, he served in the army and spent time stationed in Germany during the Berlin Crisis. In 1964, he married Gloria Barnes and had two children, John and Robin. He worked at the local grocery, then called the T&C, and finished his career in the lumber mill, retiring from SD&S in 2000. When reminiscing about his youth, he could recall in detail every basketball or baseball play he ever made. He passed his love of sport on to his son and in the 1970s, coached his son’s baseball team, taking Underwood Fruit and Warehouse on to win two local Little League championships. Learning and experiencing something new was a hallmark of Toppy’s retirement years. He was an avid reader and travelled frequently. His favorite trips included his family—a trip to China and Russia to visit his son, visiting his grandchildren in Taiwan, a cruise to Alaska with his grandson, and a trip to the U.K. with his daughter are just a few of his many adventures. He was very proud of his children and grandchildren and would tell anyone, whether they listened or not. Toppy is survived by his son, John Stephenson and daughter-in-law, Mei Lien, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; daughter, Robin Stephenson, Portland, Ore.; grandchildren, Samuel and Halona Stephenson, Taiwan; former spouse, Gloria Stephenson, Carson; sister, Louise Mulford of Sunnyside, WA; and numerous nieces and nephews. He will be interred at the White Salmon Cemetery with many of his siblings and parents who preceded him in death. In his memory, donations may be made to Stevenson Community Library or the Oregon Food Bank.
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