Baker City, 1930-2019
Phil Stevenson, 88, died peacefully Feb. 12, 2019, with his wife, Bev, by his side.
A private graveside service took place Saturday, Feb. 16 with Pastor Lennie Spooner officiating. A celebration of life will be held for all friends and family in the spring to be announced at a later date.
Born on Sept. 15, 1930, at Solo, Arkansas, to Mary Lula and Bill Stevenson, Phil was the third of four sons.
The family moved to Oklahoma for a short while when Phil was an infant. This was during the Great Depression and the family was experiencing some very rough times. In an effort to improve their situation, when Phil was 4 years old, they moved to Emmett, Idaho, joining other family members. This was a new beginning for the family, but it was a life filled with a lot of hard work. Emmett became home, and Phil grew up and received his education there. He always had sense of humor, even as a kid growing up.
During his teens, he was an accomplished rodeo rider. He rode the famous horse, Five Minutes to Midnight with the picture of his ride featured on a postcard. He had a moment of fame, never to be forgotten!
At the age of 16, he tried to enlist in the Navy, but his father put a halt to that plan. Not one to give up, at the age of 17 he accomplished this goal. He worked as an aircraft mechanic while he served his time in the service.
Being around airplanes spurred an interest to become a pilot himself. This goal was achieved several years later when he took flying lessons from J.O Maxwell and also in Portland. His flying skills were impeccable. He earned a commercial license and flew for different agencies as well as private entities. During the 60s, he was also a co-owner of Baker Aviation, and owned his own Cessna.
Phil married Susan Weaver and from that union were born three children, Philip, JD and Debby Sue.
His vocational interests during his life time took him in many directions. He went from being a farm kid during his younger years to working construction in many states including locally, being a Baker City Police officer, and running hi s own business as a secondhand store known as the Baker Bargain Center. He expanded this business and became an RV and mobile home dealer.
On Nov. 19, 1977, he married Bev, and they worked side by side in the mobile home business. In the early 1980s, he and Bev expanded and started their storage business. This has continued to the present time, with him staying actively involved despite some health issues.
During all of these ventures, it was certainly true of him, “you can take the kid off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the kid.” His many years in Haines and prior while living in Baker, he had animals. Farming was in his blood as well as his love of animals. This was illustrated time and time again, as he would try to help or rescue the smallest to the largest, in distress. Many times during his later years, he expressed regret that he had hunted and killed game animals, especially deer, reflecting on the personal side of “who Phil was.” He enjoyed so much being able to see the deer after he moved to town, when they invaded the neighborhood or grazed on the golf course. They continued to be a wonderful diversion to occupational stresses.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and also affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene.
A loving fat her, grandfather and husband to Bev for over 41 years, he will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife, the love of his life, Bev; his children, Deb Sue Hamby (Glenn), Philip Rick (Ellen), J.D. “Joe”; step-children Jeannie McGill (John), Jeff Heaton; six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three step-great-grandchildren; his sister-in-law, Eva Stevenson; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers and a good friend, Jim Hanley.
Memorial contributions in memory of Phil can be made to the charity of one’s choice through Coles Tribute Center, 1950 Place St., Baker City, OR 97814.
To light a candle in memory of Phil, go to www.colestributecenter.com