Leon Arthur Stephenson, 78, of Green Bay, died Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.
Leon was born June 17, 1940 in Sturgeon Bay, the son of the late Arthur Levi and Stella Gertrude (Felhofer) Stephenson. Leon attended Sevastopol Consolidated School and furthered his education at Stout State college (UW Stout) where he was granted B.S. and M.S. degrees. He received the Medallion Award for wrestling and was inducted into the UW Stout Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. On June 13, 1964 he was united in marriage with Berdella Ann Kiehnau at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in West Jacksonport.
He spent his entire teaching career – more than 50 years – at Preble High School. Leon coached wrestling for 15 years and taught an NWTC adjunct adult woodworking class for more than 34 years. Leon also served on the curriculum committee and judged woodworking projects for NWTC. He retired from Preble in 1995 and from NWTC in 2012.
He was a member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Jacksonport. Leon’s faith was important to him and he bore the illness of his later life patiently, without complaining. He was a kind, mild mannered, soft spoken gentleman of his word. He was a skilled woodworker, always striving for perfection in all that he did. Leon’s last major project was an advent wreath stand for Zion church.
Leon enjoyed snowmobiling, especially a trip to Canada with Sno-Decker Tours. He was at peace sailing the bay of Green Bay on his sailboat, Uncle’s Toy. He enjoyed taking friends out to the middle of the bay for Sunday brunch on the boat. Antique cars were another passion. He enjoyed having friends ride in the parades in Door County in his 1927 Chevy Sedan. He LOVED a parade and would often invite children to hop on the running board and toot the horn. His pride and joy was his 1937 Chevrolet Coupe, “Black Beauty”. He was the 3rd owner and he owned it for over 30 years.
He liked to get out in the woods and joined in making firewood each Thanksgiving weekend with family. Leon loved to get up early and watch the birds at the feeders and the water fowl on the bay. He always took time to reflect on the day as he watched the sun set over the bay.
Leon and Berdella traveled extensively together, including two trips to Alaska. Along the way, he always looked forward to hiking the trails in the U.S. National Parks. They camped out of the back of the pickup truck for 36 years in a cap that he outfitted for them, until they bought an RV. They traveled to Europe for a cruise on the great rivers of Europe and toured Costa Rica and Guatemala.
He loved children and cherished his role as uncle. The neighborhood children sought him out, ringing the doorbell to ask if Mr. Stephenson could come out to play. They were all treated to snowmobile rides and inner tubing on the bay ice. He made the ride more exciting by shoveling up snow speed bumps. The children loved to spend time in his shop in the summer. There were always plenty of nails to pound into soft pine boards to make designs to paint. They also learned how to use a hand saw. He worked to inspire creativity and to share his love of woodworking.
Leon will be missed by his brother, Elton (Dee) Stephenson; sister, Jane (Ron) Splingaire; sister-in-law Joyce Stephenson; nieces and nephews, Larry (Cheryl) Stephenson, Beth (John) Barnott, Sherri (Scott) Tomb, Jeff (Heather) Stephenson, Andrew Splingaire, Julie (Cory) Behnke, and Timothy Splingaire; great-nieces and nephews, Ashley Stephenson, Jake Bernott, Alex and Austin Tomb, Brooke and Emily Splingaire, and Josie and Lainie Marie Behnke; the Kiehnau family, sister-in-law Marilyn DeNamur, nephews Michael (Karla) DeNamur, David (Terri) DeNamur; niece Sarah DeNamur and great-nephews, Christopher Ray and Charlie Basch.
Leon was welcomed Home by his parents, Arthur (2007) and Stella (Felhofer) Stephenson (2009); brother, Eugene (2009); sister-in-law, Betty (Haen) Stephenson (2014); and brother-in-law, Gary DeNamur (2018).
Leon’s beloved wife Berdella passed away on Dec. 30, 2018 and they are surely now reunited in heaven.
A service in celebration of Leon and Berdella’s lives will be held at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in West Jacksonport at 11 am Friday, Jan. 4, 2018 with Pastor Peter Lindemann officiating. Burial will follow in Zion Ev. Lutheran Cemetery, alongside his wife, Berdella.
Friends may call from 4-7 pm Thursday, at Huehns Funeral Home in Sturgeon Bay with a devotion immediately following at 7 pm.
Special thanks to his caregivers who treated him with love, compassion, dignity and respect during his arduous journey.
Memorials may be directed to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church or School, 6704 County Trunk T, Egg Harbor, WI 54209, also to Curative Connections, Insider II Program, 2900 Curry Lane, Green Bay, WI 54311, and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Huehns Funeral Home is assisting the Stephenson family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Leon may be shared with his family through his tribute page at www.huehnsfuneralhome.com.