Life’s journey began for John Wayne Stephens when he was born on March 28, 1948, in Gum Springs, Arkansas. He was the fourth child born to the union of Isaiah and Queen Stephens. His parents were highly respected among friends and neighbors in Gum Springs. They taught him “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
He was a life member of St. Ruth Baptist Church, where he served as a Deacon. He proudly served and was faithful until his health hindered him from doing so.
“Blue” as he was known by his friends and family grew up to be a talented and smart young man. He excelled not only academically but athletically having played football, basketball and running track. He was a 1966 graduate of Peake High School. On March 27, 1968, after a year in college he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve Class III. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with one star, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with device and the Rifle Expert badge. After an honorable discharge he re-enrolled and later graduated from Henderson State University where he received Bachelor of Science Degree in Education.
“Coach Stephens” taught both science and physical education; as well as coached in Okolona, Little Rock, Mineral Springs and Hooks, Texas. He coached girls and boys basketball, football, and girls track. He spent over 20 years educating and coaching in the Hope Public School system. His passion in life was teaching and coaching young people. His legacy will live forever and he was at his best during those years and he was GREAT at it!
Blue was a natural born craftsman. He loved to build things; he made dominoes, jewelry boxes and other items out of various kinds of wood. He also loved to restore antique pieces of furniture and collected old coins and old currency. He loved old western movies and also enjoyed watching Martin and Hard Core Pawn.
His passing shall be filled with rejoicing for a life well lived. He gave his all to the Lord, and now is added to His great and blessed family in the world beyond our vision, a place not made by human hands, a place we call Heaven. His life was the epitome of courage and love expressed by the many lives he touched.
He leaves a life of legacy and love with his children, Draper Nettles and Yolanda Nettles both of Flint, MI, Sabastian Stephens of Grand Prairie, TX, Cozetta Stephens of Detroit, MI; eight grandchildren, Jasmine, Justin, Jarielle, Amahd, Jalondria, Jalonda, Kiera and Kendyl; siblings, Johnny (Viviana) Stephens of Englewood, CA, Florentine (Edward) Beasley and Nathanial Stephens of Lansing, MI, Edward (Helen) Stephens of Florissant, MO and Benjamin Stephens of Gurdon, AR. He also leaves a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, numerous friends and the students who helped mold his legacy.
Public visitation will be Friday, October 11th from 12 noon until 5:00 p.m. The family will receive friends on Saturday, October 12th from 10:30 a.m. until service time at 11:00 a.m. at St. Ruth Baptist Church. Rev. Charlie Thomas will deliver the eulogy and the interment will be in Holly Grove Cemetery in Okolona, Arkansas.