John Theodore Stevens, Sr., age 86, made his heavenly transition on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 in Pembroke Pines, Florida after a prolonged illness which he fought valiantly. Born February 2, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan to John and Helen Stevens, he was affectionately known as “J.T.” to friends and colleagues throughout the nation and “Poppa” to his grand children. J.T. lived a life that captured the spirit of giving and concern for others. Although he travelled many difficult paths of segregation and discrimination, his gift of humor kept those around him jubilant and greatly helped him during his sunset years to enjoy with others the many fruits of his sacrifices and labor.
J.T.’s lifelong devotion to the Episcopal Church taught him to serve and honor his fellow man. At age ten, he was confirmed at Saint Cyprians in Detroit and served as acolyte and in other roles. His family joined Christ the Good Shepherd in Los Angeles where he worked in many capacities over 30 years including: Senior Warden, Board Member for the Good Shepherd Manor, Finance Committee, Men’s Group and Verger. He attended Holy Sacrament Church in Pembroke Pines, Florida the past six years.
J.T.’s received his early education in Detroit and graduated from Northwestern High School after which he attended the Ford Motor Apprentice School, Wayne State University and the University of Detroit. He was drafted into the United States Navy as a second-class machinist mate and after honorable discharge, returned home and in 1951 was joined in holy wed lock with his sweetheart, Jimmie Rose Phillips. John and Rose were blessed with two children, John, Jr., and Sandra Jeanne. As parents, they worked together for 48 years, until Rose’s untimely death, teaching them the principles of faith, diligence and commitment to serving others. Today, John, Jr. and Sandra are ordained ministers.
J.T. embarked on a business career that would ultimately result in helping countless numbers of people and organizations. In 1954, he joined Anheuser-Busch, Inc., the world’s largest brewery, as a branch salesman. He progressed from special representative to regional representative and was assigned to Los Angeles in 1971 as a district manager. In 1980, he was appointed to manager of special field markets for the Western region, the position he held at retirement in 1994.
Over his 40 year career as a salesman, business executive, and community activist, J.T. was a catalyst for progress and development of social and economic conditions, educational opportunities and political thought. J.T.’s work was not just about improving the community and selling product, but about making friends. He received many awards and honors and was particularly proud of receiving an honorary doctorate in humane letters bestowed by Shorter College in Arkansas in 1987. His significant affiliations include: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; Board Member of the Young Men’s Christian Association in Culver City, CA; Board Member of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Commissioner of Environmental Standards in Culver City, CA; Board Member of the Golden State Minority Foundation; Los Angeles County Fire Commissioner; Los Angeles County Fire Department Advisory Board; Board Member of the Pacific Rim Housing/Crippled Children’s Society; Trustee of St Augustine’s College and Thirty-Third Degree Prince Hall Mason. J.T. diligently worked in support of the Los Angeles Urban League and the Los Angeles Chapter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). He was a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In 2004, J.T. married Deborah and they shared six wonderful years of matrimony in Miramar, Florida. They travelled the world during his retirement years. They also enjoy entertaining family, friends and special neighbors who delighted in his company, especially Harold and Cherie Patrick.
In addition to Rose, J.T. was predeceased by his parents, and his only brother, Kenneth White Stevens. He leaves behind to cherish his memory and preserve his legacy: his devoted and loving wife Deborah; son John, Jr.; daughter Sandra Jeanne Pate; son-in-law Bishop Dwight Pate of Baton Rouge, LA; grandchildren Marcus and Lauren Stevens; great grandsons, Garrick Gaines and Marcus Jayden Stevens; sister-in-law, Carolyn Stevens; nieces, Cheryl Stevens; Karen Stevens Pierce, wife of Attorney Anthony Pierce and parents of great nieces Lindsay, Allison and Nichole; goddaughter Judi Smith; godson Malcolm Carter; loyal friends, principally Ed and Genevieve Lara, Robert and Rosemarie Bell, Henry Brown, and Dr. Alfred and Gwendolyn Bowles, along with a host of lifelong and treasured relationships.
Special Family Request:
In lieu of flowers, J.T.’s family respectfully asks that contributions be made in the name of John T. Stevens, Sr. to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for future generations and in recognition of his service.
UNCF Contact Information
Attn: Francene T. Walker, CFRE
Director – Individual and Planned Giving
8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031
Tel: (703) 205-3569 | Fax: (703) 205-3597