OBITUARY: Ed Stephens

Ed Stephens

December 5, 1928 ~ June 21, 2021

Ed Stephens passed peacefully from this life, surrounded by his family, just before sunrise on June 21. Edward (Eddie) was born Dec. 5, 1928, to Amos and Anna Stephens, the youngest of seven children. He was born in Nampa, Idaho, and when he was a child they moved by horse and wagon to a homestead in Vale, Oregon. His family cleared the sage brush and made their living at farming. 

This was during the Depression, but Dad always said he felt fortunate that they always had good food from the farm, when many people were going hungry. They had milk and eggs, a vegetable garden, and fried chicken for Sunday dinner when the family would gather. He loved his mom’s homemade bread with butter, potatoes and gravy, and watermelon from the garden. He carried on his mom’s tradition and made the best gravy around. He talked with great fondness for his parents and family. His older brothers and sisters would visit with their families, his nieces and nephews, almost every Sunday. 

The family stayed close throughout their lives, and a special thank you to those nieces and nephews for being so loyal-visiting, calling, sending cards and letters up to Uncle Eddie’s last days. He was very proud to be from Vale, and kept in touch with a lot of his high school buddies throughout his life. He was on the Vale football team, was a three-year letterman, and his team went to state his senior year. He also boxed with the Vikings (and later in the Army he won the middle weight boxing championship). He talked about how the whole town of Vale would close shop to attend the sports games, there was so much team/town spirit! 

He also said whole families would go to the Grange dances every Saturday night, in Vale, Hope, Harper, Ontario and other surrounding communities. They would dance the fox trot, waltz, and jitterbug. He often said that even though times were hard, they enjoyed life! 

One of my Dad’s favorite songs was “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” This tells what kind of man he was, always seeing life with a positive outlook. He was tough, and could have a fiery temper, and also fun-loving especially always making things fun for the kids. Ed worked hard on the farm, helping his dad farm with horse and plow. Cows were milked every morning and night. He also worked for local ranchers, bucking hay, and earned enough to buy his own Model B Ford at 14 years old. Growing up during World War II, his family would listen to the radio every evening, and he and his Dad would listen to FDR’s fireside chats. He said they were one of a few families who had a radio, so oftentimes neighbors would come over to listen. He said they all stared at the radio as if it were television. He graduated early to join the Army, after WWII just ended, and became a sergeant. He was stationed in Austria, and Germany, and saw the aftermath of the war. After coming home and enrolling at Boise Junior College, he was called back for the Korean conflict. 

After finishing his service, he decided to travel. He moved to Mexico City and earned a degree from Universidad de Las Americas. He studied Education, Mexican history, art and culture and became fluent in Spanish. He married Luisa Ferbal, whose family owned the boarding house where he stayed. He and Luisa moved to Idaho, where he began his teaching career, teaching high school English and Spanish. He and Luisa had two sons, Dan and Brent. They divorced, and Ed and his boys lived in Idaho until 1963, when he married Joyce Eggers. Ed and Joyce were married in the Vale Church of Christ, and were members of the Church in Ontario. Joyce was working as the president’s secretary at Treasure Valley Community College, and they met when Ed applied for a job as Spanish instructor. He was one of the first instructors hired, and began his career of 24 years at TVCC. He first taught part-time, and after summers of finishing his master’s degree at the University of Oregon, he was hired full time. He enjoyed teaching Spanish, and his love of the language and culture inspired his work.Students would see him in town, sometimes years after taking his class, and come up and tell him how much they enjoyed his class, or that he encouraged them to travel or to teach, or to better connect with their community. 

Many of Ed’s colleagues from TVCC were lifelong friends too. Even after he retired, he would look forward to his gold-panning camping trips and poker nights with his TVCC buddies. Ed and Joyce, with their boys Dan and Brent, made their home on a small farm in the Lincoln Heights area and later to an acre near the Butte. For many years Ed farmed 40 acres with cattle while also teaching full time. Their children Jimmy and I (Janna) came along during these years. We were Cairo kids and we have such good memories of being part of that community. Joyce taught school, as a special education teacher for Cairo and Aiken. 

These were happy years for our family. We always kept close connections with extended family from both sides…so many memorable Sunday dinners and potlucks, picnics, game nights, family reunions, birthdays, and friend get-togethers. Ed and Joyce loved to travel and we got to take many family trips. We traveled to visit family in other parts of the U.S. such as the Oregon coast, California, Montana, Colorado (where Joyce was from), the Southwest, and one whole summer we spent traveling in Mexico. They encouraged us to learn about other peoples and cultures, and also from our friends and neighbors in our own diverse community. 

Ed and Joyce enjoyed many years in retirement, traveling with snowbird friends to Arizona every winter. They also enjoyed being in their home in Ontario, working in the yard, their fruit trees, rose garden, rock garden. Many summer evenings were spent on their back deck, viewing the sunsets behind the Butte, and watching the hummingbirds. Grandkids loved to visit every summer. They loved having big Christmas celebrations with all their kids and grandkids. Even when traveling in Arizona for the winter, they always came home to host Christmas. Family and friends were what their lives were all about. They moved to Portland area for their last years, to live with their kids. A special thank you to Jim and his wife Castle, who lovingly cared for “Pop” in their home. Pop always maintained his sense of humor and wit, and was joking around until his last day! 

Joyce passed away in 2017. Their son, Brent passed away in 2019. 

Ed is survived by his sons Dan (Susan), and Jim (Castle); his daughter Janna (Andrew); grandchildren Zac, Willie, Blake, Meghan, Jordan, and Logan; as well as many beloved extended family and friends. Ed will be laid to rest with a private family graveside at the Valley View Cemetery in Vale, next to his wife Joyce. Memorials can be made to the Four Rivers Cultural Center at 541-889-8191. En Paz descanse, Senor Stephens! 

Arrangements by Lienkaemper Chapel, Ontario. Condolences to the family at wwwlienkaemper-thomason.com