John Field Stephens Jr.
January 16, 1928 – May 17, 2020
John Field Stephens, Jr. (age 92)
Deceased 5/17/2020 @ 7:20p.m.
Preceded in death by: His wife of 71 years-Lizzie Bell Stephens His parents: John & Maude Stephens 2-Brothers (Austin & Robert) & 3-Sisters (Hazel, Mabel & Mildred) and Great-Grandson John Austin Stephens
Survived by: Son: Gordon Walter Stephens & wife Judy Lavera Daughter: Deborah Marie Stephens Carter & husband Charles Daughter: Jennifer Stephens Shannon & husband Frank
8-grandchildren: Tonya Dickerson-Gonzales, Bradford Dickerson (wife Carrie), Matthew Stephens (wife Meredith), David Stephens, Christopher Wilson, Nicholas Shannon (wife Abigail), Marcus Shannon (wife Sarah) and Lucas Shannon
14-great-grandchildren: Jami Colon (husband Jovanni), Suzanne Gates, Gabriella Hurtado, P.J. Gonzalez, Madeline Stephens, Bailee Stephens, Natalie Wilson, Savannah Wilson, Matthew Powell, Nathan Powell, Noah Powell, Levi Wooten, Adelyn Shannon and John Marc Shannon II
4-great-great grandchildren: Julian Colon, Lareyah Colon, Jovanni Colon, Jr and Emery Hurtado
John was born in Tampa, FL. He lived in surrounding areas until the year 2000 when he moved to Jacksonville, FL. He was the youngest son with 5 other siblings. He came from a poor family who lived during the depression. His mother was a homemaker. His father worked many jobs mainly in the shipyard and when he was older he farmed. John said his dad had worked for as little as $1 a day some of those years.
John was very athletic and loved running track and playing softball. In 8th or 9th grade he actually won the 100 yard dash and was going to represent his school at a citywide meet. Normally, he did not run in shoes but had to wear some for this race. This really affected his ability as they were hand-me-downs that were too large and worn out. At the age of 16, to help support his family financially, he dropped out of school and went to work with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. Legally, he was too young to work but due to the war and the shortage of workers they hired him. This helped his family out tremendously as they were barely surviving. When he turned 18, he was drafted by the Army but decided to join the Navy. He was stationed in Guam for his two year term as a Clean Up Operation after World War II. He learned to pilot a boat and must have been good at it as he was commissioned to escort the commanding officers everywhere. He was honorably discharged and returned back to the states. He would have re-enlisted but he would have been sent back to Guam. He had had enough of that small island. Returning to work with the railroad, he continued to work for a total of 46 years as a carman. In the fall of his 20th year, he met Lizzie at a Turkey Creek Football game and quickly fell in love. On December 13, 1948, they drove up to Georgia with another couple and got married. When he returned to work the next day, his boss asked him, why he missed a day of work? He told him, “I got married.” The boss said, “What did you do that for?”
John & Lizzie had three children together; Gordon, Deborah & Jennifer. He loved his children and grandchildren and devoted his life to working hard to provide for them financially while he was living and beyond. Taking care of his family after he was gone was always at the forefront of his mind. Growing up during the depression gave him the sense to be conservative with his spending but also made him very generous to those in need and gave him an awareness of helping not only his family but many less fortunate.
Going to work as such an early age and then into the military, he did not finish high school. It was his desire to get his diploma. He ended up going to night school while working and received his high school degree. While going to night school, (he was older that most of the other students), during history class he would actually comment on life experiences in history and the teacher let him teach a couple of classes since he knew the history so well.
As a young adult John loved sports and continued playing softball on neighborhood teams. He also went with friends from the railroad to the local YMCA and learned Judo. He acquired a Black Belt in Judo. He was always a scrawny kid growing up and in those days as he told it he would get picked on. He learned how to defend himself early but he did not usually start a fight. He showed all of his kids moves & techniques of self-defense. If any neighborhood kids were bullied he would call them to the side and show them how to protect themselves. Some took the “lessons” to heart and started chasing down the bullies. (ha, ha, ha)
Not growing up in a Christian home, it was not until he & Lizzie were married that they started attending church and began to study the Bible. Both made a profession of faith in 1956 at Sidney Baptist Church. John was very hungry to learn God’s word and studied the Bible diligently. After thorough examination, he became ordained in 1966. He served in mission churches for many years driving from Tampa to Naples to preach Sunday mornings. Many years he taught Sunday School, was a Deacon and held the office of Treasurer. Until he was up into his 80s and his sight was failing and he could not retain what he read, he would study the Bible every day. All of his family can attest to seeing him reading and discussing with us what he was studying.
The last 15 years of his life were not what any of us expected or wanted for him or Lizzie as their health declined and their independence was rattled with Lizzie’s dementia. But his love and faithfulness stood strong and true to her until her death just two months ago. Without the love of his life here on earth, it did not take him long to want to leave and join her. He will always be remembered as a faithful husband, a good father & grandfather and a man of God.
Arrangements by Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home of Mandarin, 11801 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, FL (904) 288-0025.
Laid to Rest
Friday, May 22, 2020
Saturday, May 23, 2020
John Field Stephens Jr.
May 22, 2020
What a wonderful man Uncle John was! And always at his side was his precious Aunt Liz! Both Louis and I feel for the family, especially Gordon, Debbie and Jennifer. Losing one parent is hard enough...but losing both in a matter of a few months...would be heart-breaking.
Except for the fact that we're a Christian family...and we know that "in the blink of an eye," both Uncle John and Aunt Liz were rejoicing together in Heaven with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
The entire Stephens/Carter/Shannon families are in our hearts and prayers. We love our sweet cousins.
May 19, 2020
My condolences to family on loss of their father and grandfather. Mr. John will be greatly missed, RIP dear one