The Stephens family was a like a great book...
Every summer that I Richard s house came to Valdez ak . It was like a lesson in life....
What a great family and great people to learn the circle of life...
Thanks Stephens family and mr Stan Stephens for having me in his class .. The lessons and respect by the Stephens family...
Richard. S house
Thanks for make a positive action on my life.....
Stan gave me my first real boat job. His work ethic and kindness have stayed with me all my life. Mary Helen, your smiling face I can still remember to this day, although it has been years since I've seen you. Jenna, Colleen and Carrie, your Dad was such a wonderful person. How lucky we all were to have him in our lives.
stan was a great man, always treated people with respect we lost a great person. so sorry for the familys lost
So many memories it is hard to pick out one or two.
Stan was not only my employer, he was a second father to me for many years. The first summer I worked for him I wrecked the green station wagon in Anchorage with Jenna in it. Yet he never hesitated to let me drive other vehicles and even welcomed me back the next summer to work. In 1988 after I busted my ankle up so I couldn't stand for long periods of time Stan arranged (and I think paid for) me to work part-time at the museum as well as part time for Stan Stephens Cruises so I could have a job that let me sit part of the time. I could go on for a long time about Stan's generosity to me personally.
Stan Stephens was passionate about his family, his business and Prince William Sound. I never saw him put himself first. During those early Summers he worked from the time he got up to the time he went to bed except for maybe a run. I can not remember him taking a day off. After the oil spill in 1989 he poured incredible amounts of time and energy into ensuring that it will never happen again.
Stan Stephens was an amazing man and will always be remembered as a father, a business man, an environmentalist and a good friend.
My thoughts are with all of you at this time. I think of him as a pioneer and icon in Alaska. He truly was the Keeper of the Sound.
My heart is heavy with the news of Stan's passing. The Stephens family has lost their patriarch - a kind and caring husband, father and grandfather. Mary Helen, Colleen, Jenna & Carrie - I am so, so sorry for your loss.
I will always remember Stan as a man of strong principles and great passion - passion for his family & friends, for his community and for the environment. Stan was a true pioneer - one who always worked steadily and without self-interest.
Stan will be greatly missed - but, he leaves behind the kind of legacy that anyone would be proud of - He was a man who did things his way, and was able to enjoy time doing what he loved and loving what he did. Stan knew that life wasn't a "dress-rehearsal" and made each of his days count. May we all honor his memory best by living our own lives to the fullest, and making a difference in whatever way we feel compelled. For me, Stan will always be one of the reasons that the Great Land is so great...he showed us all by his example that one person can make a difference.
My sincere sympathy to Stan's family. I remember Stan in high school playing basketball. I am so proud of Stan and his family and it was so nice to visit in Valdez.
I had the privilege of getting to know Stan while serving on the board of RCAC. He worked really hard to protect Prince William Sound, and was just a great guy to work with and be around. I'm thankful we have smart dedicated people like Stan who strive to make this world a better place.
Working for and with Stan Stephens (and his family) at Growler Island is still, 15 years later, the best job I've ever had. Stan was an inspiration in many ways, through his hard work and kind dedication both to his company- and every person in it, to community and to environmental work.
I agree, Karen, there are so many memories it is hard to to find one! A moment comes to mind, however, that seems to me a good example of Stan as "boss-to-a-bunch-of-rowdy-though-well-meaning-young-crew-members":
My first summer with the company, working on the boats, I decided I wanted to shave my head. I felt, though, that as a courtesy to my employer (who had, after all, hired me with hair) I should check and see if Stan wanted a bald 18-year-old girl serving coffee to the elderly tourists who made up the majority of boat passengers. His opinion was:
"Well, I don't have any hair, I don't see why you should have to."
It was, in so many ways, an amazing environment in which to spend summers for a few years.
I am so happy to have had the privilege of knowing and working for Stan.
I never worked for Stan directly, but I was around his tour operation and with his family and employees for a few summer seasons. His rock solid love and respect for these people and Prince William Sound were strongly felt. He clearly gave a lot of himself to those close to him, to those of us on the periphery and to the many visitors who were fortunate enough to find themselves on one his boats touring the Sound. Hearing of his passing brings a moment of sadness, but also a wealth of gratitude: Thank you Stan, for sharing yourself, your family and your Alaska with us all.
I will never forget Stan, and his generosity.
I met Stan on a visit to Alaska arranged by my son and daughter-in-law. I know he will be missed. Many people loved and admired him.
So there we were! All decked out and no place to go. We had hotels, we had charter boats, and we had the Prince William Sound! What more could you ask for? Well, that would be visitors. Believe it or not, back then, people didn't know so much about the Sound. Stan, Brad Phillips and I had an idea. Lets create a "Tourism Organization" to advertise the Sound. We did just that. Prince William Sound Tourism Coalition was formed. Was it luck, or were we just flat out smart, we hired Ral West to be our marketing marvel? She was great. Can't remember exactly how long we were in existence before "IT" happened. The oil spill. YEP!!!People soon knew about the Sound. Not in a good way. All that media had to be managed, and....frankly...(modestly speaking) I think we did a pretty good job.
Oh my, the stories we can tell. The best part, is we stayed together. The Prince William Sound. Cordova, Valdez and Whittier. Our friendships, as individuals, our collective love for the place we called home. Alaskans we do truly stand on the shoulders of giants. Giants like Stan! Smooth sailing Captain Stan!
That's very good history, Margie. Stan really was a very special guy.
I will always remember the gracious generosity Stan had when he took everyone out into the sound. We seen lots of wildlife; and had a wonderful lunch of home made chowder and a drink and also got a snack. Took lots of photos, but lost them on a computer crash, wished I had those photos! We had one of Stan at the Stern, but, best of all have the wonderful memories. I worked at the Best Western then with Mandy and Willy Hagedorn who were the managers.
We thanked Stan then, but, want to thank his family again, for the Wonderful Memories and the fantastic time we had.
Took a couple dive charters with Stan. Both were very fun, very relaxing and very professional! Always wanted to get back and do it again. Sail on, Stan!
I had the great honor to meet Stan and ride with him several years ago. I will remember him as a man that passionately loved the Sound. His experience and care will be missed.
A great man and a great family. It was a privilege to work alongside Stan and his family during some of the best years of my life. Stan and the entire Stephens family was highly respected by everyone - those who agreed with him, and others. His character was his message.
It was a privilege to know Stan and his family both in North Pole and in Valdez. My prayers are with them as they mourn this great loss.
Tried to take a cruise every year--always made sure that Stan was the one on the controls. When my mother visited, she loved the cruises and enjoyed all the knowledge that Stan shared. It was a privilege to know Stan. I know that Mary Helen, his family, his cruise family and Valdez will always miss him. Valdez won't be the same without Stan. Valdez lost a true friend and believer of the Sound.
It has taken me a while to absorb this news and I have been struggling for the right words to say. Today a friend asked me to read an editorial about Stan planned for publication in the Anchorage Daily News and it gave me the push I needed, I guess.
First of all, to you Mary Helen, Carrie, Jenna and Colleen, one of the things I admired most about your huaband and father was his devotion to his family and the love that held you all together. I hope it is comforting to you now.
Something else I admired him for was the influence he had on generations of young people in Valdez. All of the kids who washed boats, shuffled supplies, served Russian tea to tourists and performed the myriad of chores it takes to run the business came away influenced positively by a role model of a type that's difficult to find anymore. Two generations of my family worked on those boats. We all owe him a debt for that and we should carry that influence forward.
Stan stood large in many people's lives, including my own for the better part of 25 years and he was a strong influence. We didn't always agree but we always respected each other and I held the highest esteem for him. We fought many battles together, saving Prince William Sound's killer whales from capture, dealing with an oil spill in our most beautiful place and later doing what we could to protect it from another such tragedy. Stan saw that the biggest danger was complacency and continued the fight long after it was popular.
Since hearing the news, I have been living with a great sense of loss and a mind full of memories of this and that from our relationship over the years, some of it uncomfortable, but mostly happy. I spent some the happiest years of my life on Stan Stephens' boats and in friendship with the man.
And as you will read in the Daily News shortly, he set a standard and a stage for the rest of us to continue on with the legacy he leaves us to also be keepers, of Prince William Sound, on a larger scale the world's oceans and, too, the love that holds families together.
I share your loss.
I met Stan in 1990 through PWSRCAC. I've learned that he is a man that works from his heart. He was generous with visitors from around the world who wanted to learn about citizen oversight, and working alongside industry. And if he was wrong (seldom) he would admit it and apologize. I have utmost respect for Stan, and for his family. When I visited him in the hospital a few weeks ago he said (as he ate chocolate Hagan Daz) he hoped to make his next anniversary to celebrate with Mary Helen. Sorry he didn't make it. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and everyone who knew him.
Although I did not know Stan very well personally, I know I would not be living in Valdez if it wasn't for his efforts to clean and preserve the PWS after the spill. I came to town as a kayak guide and grew to have a deep love and appreciation for the PWS. Thank you for all you did Stan, and thank you to his entire family for sharing such a great person with Valdez, the PWS, and Alaska.
Often time’s people impact others’ lives without knowing that they had. Stan was one of those men. As the school years came to an end there was one thing we all looked forward to – our Stan Stephens Tour. He made it a special point to teach us about the Sound, and instill a love for its beauty and grandness. As an adult I spent a couple weekend at Growler Island, and the love grew. I can account my love for the ocean, and my love for the Prince William Sound to this wonderful man. Thank you to the Stephens family for having such a positive impact on our community. Stan will be greatly missed and thought of often.
I will cherish the memories you gave me for letting me work with you and your family for the years I did. I will miss you.And to the Stevens family:Mary Helen,Colleen,Jenna,Carrie I love you all. You will be missed.
My condolences to Mary Helen and family. I went on my first cruise on PWS on the Mary Helene back in the early 1980's. I continued to cruise with Stan and the clan for many years, many times at no cost, so I could visit my friends the Jenka's and LaChance's. My most vivid memory was going to Ice worm and the seas were extremely rough and I was up on the bridge with Stan. As I looked across the bridge I could imagine a sea captain from years ago, so confident and capable. Stan was on the board of the Museum where I worked for many years and his passion for PWS and the community of Valdez was immeasurable. Stan's legacy through his daughters and the mark he will leave on the sound will be everlasting.
I will try to reach you today.
I am so sorry for your loss of Stan in the physical world. But, knowing what a dynamic and caring person that he was, I don't see that there will be any diminishment of memories of him among those who knew him with the passage of time. He was and will remain the standard by which public service can be measured....and he wasn't even in the legislature or governor, etc....he did it the old fashioned way...by working hard and trying to make sure he and others did the right thing.
When the Gulf of Mexico oil spill happened a few years ago, what flashed through my mind was "where were the Stan Stephenses and Al Burches of the Gulf who could have most likely helped to prevent this disaster?" I believe that the Gulf and its natural resources, its industries, including the oil and gas industry, and its residents would benefit as Alaska has from more citizen involvement for which Stan and others so strongly and wisely advocated.
And, I am sure that as strong as he was on such matters, he could not have done these remarkable things had he not had you to support him and back him up. He probably knew as I do that I know who the weaker sex is and it sure isn’t you all !!! J
This is and will be a very heartbreaking time for you and your family I know....but, mankind has figured out over the millennia that bringing people together and talking about those who have moved from this life helps ease the heartache some and helps all focus on the great things a person such as Stan has done in his life and accomplished for which he will be remembered for eternity.
I didn't intend to get into saying things right now about Stan...they just sort of tumbled out...He was always so kindly deferential to my views as a political guy from back East....we had some very enlightening for me discussions and I had the pleasure of visiting a number of Hill offices with Stan when he came to DC several years ago.
I will tell you too that at lunch on the Hill I was trying to see if Stan would buy into having dessert after the main course, etc..talking about possibly sharing a dessert, etc...and found out then and there that he had a weakness....he had a sweet tooth...:)...so, I didn't have to even share a dessert to get him to buy into it...we both had desserts !!!
So many have obviously known Stan so much better than I did and will have more stories than you can shake a stick at over his long and storied career....but for me, I sure am glad I knew him and have taken some of his passion for issues and tried to make them my own. I know that many others have done the same thing...so I am in good company.
With profound respect for you and Stan.
I'm Stan's granddaughter. I loved my grandpa and I miss him a lot. I'm glad he's in heaven and not in pain. I have good memories of being with him. He liked chocolate just like me.
Stan, May fair winds and a following sea be with you on your homeward voyage! Thank you for your patient teachings, the wonderful opportunity, and everlasting memories. Sincere condolences to Mary Helen, Colleen, Jenna, and the entire Stephens family. Captain Bob Venable
I have so many fond memories of Stan from working on the boats, at Growler Island and at the RCAC. Stan was my mentor and very good friend. I joked that he and Mary Helen were my surrogate parents. I will miss him greatly. Some of you will remember his scary skiff. When he ordered the boat, the company called to say that the engines that were ordered were overpowered for the size of the skiff. When they heard who the boat was for they powered it as Stan had asked. One evening Stan was headed back to Valdez from Growler Island in the scary skiff and he hit a sheet of ice. The skiff went up onto the ice and Stan was stranded like a turtle turned over on its shell. After not returning to Valdez that evening, some crew members went out looking for him. They said they found Stan curled up in the skiff next to his faithful dog, as if he was perfectly content to wait it out until the ice cracked and set him free again. Perhaps he was also just a little bit embarrassed that he had to be rescued. Another fond memory I have of Stan was while sitting in a room full of oil industry representatives, regulators and RCAC staff for a workshop to determine how many tugs were needed to mount a worst case scenario oil spill. At the beginning of the workshop we all went around the room introducing ourselves and when it got to Stan’s turn he pointed out that he was the only person in the room that was not getting paid to be there. That made a huge impact on all us at the meeting. Over the last several days I have been thinking a lot about what it was about Stan that made people respect him and look up to him so much. Stan made people want to do a good job – you didn’t want to disappoint him. I still have not completely figured out that special recipe that made Stan so great, but part of it was that he trusted people and that made people trust him. You always knew where Stan stood on an issue and what he wanted. He wore his heart on his sleeve and was not afraid to stand up for what he believed was the right thing. He was a good listener. He was a man of few words, but when he did speak people listened. There are not many people out there like Stan. In looking back at the spill Stan described it as though he had lost multiple members of his family at one time. For me losing Stan is like losing a special place in Prince William Sound, yet every time I am out in it his presence will be felt. I hope that when faced with decisions about protecting the Sound that I always ask the question “What would Stan do?”
Stan, I only knew you for a short time many years ago, but the memory of that time is still strong and with great warmth. Sail on my friend. You will take with you an era that cannot be replaced.
I only met Stan face to face a handful of times in the 15 years I've been in the Sound. But we orbited the same issues of water quality, habitat preservation and resource use decision making. I heard him speak and watched him act on these issues on behalf of the Sound over the years. I am sorry that I won't have a chance to get to know him better personally. We've lost a great advocate, and a good person, but the work he has done is a legacy that will remain forever.
What a huge loss for us all! Stan was so active and conscientious, his passing leaves a huge hole in the fabric of Valdez and Alaska. I can picture (and hear!) him in so many situations; at the helm narrating the sights, strolling the dock, walking through town, hauling lines, chatting with guests, seeing boats off and greeting them on their return--a staunch presence as welcoming as any harbor light in stormy seas.
Generations of Valdez kids have begun their lifetime work experience through the guidance and generosity of the Stephens family. I hope they will continue his legacy. My sympathy to you all.
Several years ago I attended a Frank Murkowski public hearing at the Valdez civic center. Well over an hour into the proceedings Stan got up to testify and chastised the governor for one, making a 45 minute presentation and then limiting public comment to three minutes, and two, for leaving the building before public testimony even began.
Stan then proceeded to read a lengthy statement while being repeatedly interrupted and ignoring the poor woman who had been charged with maintaining order. Undeterred, Stan finished his statement and the room erupted into applause.
The brand of integrity and passion that Stan walked through life with are traits I am honored to have witnessed and will always remember.
My relationship with Stan began shortly after the TAPS Terminal opened in 1977 and continued on for many years. During that period it was often possible for us to meet for breakfast and discuss our common interests which included pretty much everything having to do with Prince William Sound. From my perspective Stan was one of those rare individuals who could act as a catalyst to allow people with differing points of view to combine their abilities for the benefit of all. In this way Stan’s influence will be felt for years to come even by those who did not have the opportunity to know him.
To this day, I tell the story of a tourist asking Stan when he was going to retire. I remember him looking around at the extraordinary views of PWS, and saying gruffly, "I'm not ever going to retire."
I was sad to learn of Mr Stephen's passing. Having enjoyed 2 visits to the Sound with his Company to celebrate my Birthday, my last being recently on August 6th 2013, my only disappointment is that I never met this marvelous man and I do hope his family continue his exquisite service on and to Prince William Sound.
Stan was a true friend, one of a kind. Del and Stan were friends from boyhood thru adulthood and even though many miles apart - they never missed a beat.
It was an honor to have him in his first and probably only Catholic wedding. He cared and we cared and he knew this.
I was and am the very proud Big Sister Of Stan. I loved and respected him more than ay man I have known in my lifetime. He was a great little brother and always my friend. I always knew -if I needed him he was there for me. The best of memories are those times spent in Prince William Sound . I have always treasured those times and always will. Mary helen has been a true sister to me and My heart is with the girls and her. I so wish I was there. My heart is breaking. I had a chance to talk to Stan almost daily to the end and I treasure those. conversations. Richard House I worked with you and so many whose names I remember. We were truly blessed to work with my brother and have him introduce us to the wonders of Prince William Sound . I loved him so much I can hardly bear it to have him gone but I am glad he is no longer in such pain, Mary Helen has been a an angel as he told me a very short time ago. I could write a book about a very Special guy-My little brother.
Lil, thank you. I have had a hard time wrapping my head around this, so it was delightful speaking with you this morning talking of happy moments and your times with him growing up
Godspeed, Captain. You touched the lives of many who will never forget you.
I met Stan the first year I went to Alaska... Stan being a good friend and former employee of Harold Johnson of Alaska Diesel Electric. Immediately, I learned to respect Stan;s honesty, his family values, and his deep respect for nature... R.I.P Stan, and my condolences to the family...
I first met Stan 28 years ago while I was still in the Coast Guard. He immediately impressed me as a man of honesty, humility and great character. In all the years that I have known him, he never wavered in those traits. He was a gentleman in every sense.
The people of Prince William Sound benefited from his longstanding dedication to the protection of those beautiful waters.
I am saddened by his loss and privileged to have known him.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Stephens family.
i would just like to give the family my condolences Stan was a great man. i am so sorry for your loss.
Our community has lost a respected elder.
I did not know Stan Stephens well. However, I knew him well enough to recognize he was a person of the highest integrity. His passion for this beautiful place we call home was undeniable. I recall him speaking at an oil spill drill several years ago. Although it was a simulated incident, his emotion and passion for the protection of Prince William Sound were very real. It was so real it gave me goose bumps and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It was in that moment I fully understood his commitment to this place.
I am reminded of the following poem by Henry Van Dyke:
"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying."
All three of our children had summer jobs working for Stan. What a wonderful opportunity for them to meet people from all over the world, while seeing the incredible beauty of the Sound. Thanks to Stan and Mary Helen for entrusting so many young people of Valdez with the responsibilities of work and sharing the treasure that is Prince William Sound.
We met Stan and Mary Helen, Carrie, Jenna, Colleen in 1974. Right away we knew we had met a wounderful family and great friends. It did not take long that they talked us into a visit to Valdez. With three children and a small budget Stan let us stay on the Vince Peede that first night. The next day we took the trip to Columbia Glacier and we were hooked on Prince William Sound. Over the years we made many return trips to the Sound. When Stan had the vision of Growler Island we would get work parties together in the spring and open the Island, I never shovled so much snow and had so much fun. When our son Christopher turned 16 he was looking for summer work. I asked Stan if he needed any summer help. His reply was 'send him to us and we will work him'. As Jason and Julie reached age 16 they also got shipped to Valdez. How could parents not love this, Stan and Mary Helen were raising our teenagers in the summer. Stan and Mary Helen have had such a great influence on countless young people over the years. Their dedication, caring, honesty, and commitment to the Sound, the visitors, and all people they have come in contact with is a lasting legacy. For Christopher the experience must have been outstanding because he has been with the company for 26 years. Great job Stan! Our thoughts are with the whole Stephens family.
My heart and prayers are with Mary Helen and family. I returned home to Valdez yesterday. I returned with sorrow with the loss of Stan, and grieving with Stephens family. The loss of two of our community elders, John Kelsey and Stan, is heavy in the air. Earlier this year I met Colleen at Anc ERA departure with her hardy positive determined spirit recovering from knee surgery, tho still busy working with up coming season prep Stan Stephens Cruises. We arrived in Valdez, both her parents welcomed her at the airport. I remember thinking "very cool, what a great sight to see", a very wonderful the warm welcome for their daughter (amazing person herself). I hope the care and support of many in our community and throughout different communities help them through their loss of husband, father, grandfather, and steadfast leadership. I add this which I wrote a few weeks ago when I first read the news of passing of Stan. "Stan Stephens accomplished his goal - over the years thousands of people from all over the world have come to know the AMAZING BEAUTY of Prince William Sound. Many, many guests at my B&B every season returned from a cruise on Stan Stephens cruise and beamed with the wonderful cruise they had - awe-filled with the beauty of PWS and wildlife, warmed by the enthusiastic and attentive staff, always the captains and the knowledge of the area impressed upon them... Stan Stephens will be missed and his leadership. What Colleen said that her father saw that his staff did not work for him, but that they worked with him is evident by the "extended family " ties, The Christmas gatherings my daughter Mei-lani goes to if she is in town. I loved sharing with my guests it is a "long time family run business with a vision with appreciation and love for PWS". Rest in peace, and Thank you, Stan, for your many, many endeavors to PWS and our community, and business/industry world to have global consciousness of respect and regard for nature ."
My daughter lived in North Pole, Alaska for 25 years so I was up there many times. My family took numerous tours on Stan Stephens charters. Stan was so good to us on these trips. We have so many good memories. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
Stan loved his life and wouldn't accept mediocrity.Stan was the Stephen's family patriarch; however a great deal of his strength came from his supporting cast, Mary Helen, Carrie, Jenna and Colleen.Stan had a very direct personality, he could tell the governor how it was going to be; but good luck convincing his girls.
The Stephen's family had an unusual talent for hiring outcasts, I was one of them.My favorite story was David Rockefeller Jr, sailing to Growler Island. He and his wife stood in line for the salmon bake. Mrs. Rockefeller asked the server for more halibut and the server hastily replied "Eat what you've got and when your done get back in line"
Frank Church fought to protect the Salmon River.The area is now known as "The Frank Church Wilderness Area." Twenty years from now I hope to sail into a back bay in Prince William Sound and say "I've got a hundred bucks for anyone that shows me a single sign of man, then I'll tell them I knew Stan Stephens".
Serious with a passion,
Heart larger than any fraction
Stern,direct opposite of an attraction
Heart cold, ,I couldn't imagine
A model of a true Christian through his actions.
He broke barriers. did the impossible
He was more than a mere man he was unstoppable
Fiery like a bull, ready to attack
And anything that concerned him was changed like that,
A true inspiration, emanate, motivator
Obstacles came, he didn't bat an eye or even contemplate desperation,
He never took things lightly and that's why it is likely,
He wasn't just a man, or father, ,or business man,
He was all of those things compacted into one form.
We all know death is inevitable, but it never ceases to shock & cause much sorrow when someone we love leaves us. I so admired Stan ever since I first met him in 1984 when my husband, Joe & our family moved to Valdez from the east coast. Joe was stationed with the USCG there & my very first job in tourism was at the Valdez CVB. Stan was the most instrumental person promoting tourism and so loved by everyone who knew him. He gave, gave, and gave some more whenever called upon. He made promoting Valdez exciting and I so enjoyed working with him. My three years working at VCVB didn't end my interaction with Stan. It continued when I worked at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau and the State of Alaska and then ATIA. What a wonderful man and family to have known. My sympathies to all of us but especially his lovely family he leaves behind. My favorite memory was Stan's telling of his "secret" places he and a friend of his shared in PWS. What a genuine person he was! Rest in Peace Stan.
In the summer of 1992, I had the great fortune to work in Valdez alongside the Stephens family, and had quite a few encounters with Stan. I was the latest in a series of summer workers stationed in Valdez with Holland America Line, coordinating their cruise ship shore excursions and their trips to Columbia Glacier. Though I worked for the competition, and (truth be told), hardly knew what I was doing half the time, the Stephens family were a huge help to me, always open, friendly, and welcoming, well beyond what anyone might have expected. It was a summer that generated many great memories that I cherish to this day. Stan was such a professional, and he and his family so good at what they all did, their passion for the region was always obvious. My deepest condolences for your loss, and my heartfelt thanks for the cherished memories. Farewell Stan.
My time with Stan (and the Stephens family) goes back longer than I can remember, and I have the pictures to prove it. Valdez, Growler Island, the boats, and the extraordinary beauty of the sound are an amazing part of my childhood. Stan and his family made that happen, and I'm grateful for it.
Remembered Stan with his big St. Bernard and his heated doghouse in North Pole.
Stan Stephens played a huge role in sharing his love of Prince William Sound and other wild places in Alaska and fostering ecotourism. In 2001, I was lucky to attend a workshop at Growler Island Camp that he sponsored for Alaska Forum for Environmental Responsibility, and many leaders in Alaska concerned about holding the oil industry accountable were there. It was a gorgeous time in May. Stan was a remarkable leader with respect to protecting the environment in the face of big oil’s money and power and had a big impact on how things are done at the tanker terminal today. Furthermore, he encouraged the PWS RCAC to produce studies about dispersant effectiveness in broken ice and arctic waters, and many peer-reviewed reports that have been invaluable contributions to protecting the Arctic environment. I posted some photos on the retreat on my facebook page. Happy sailing, Stan!
We have a daily reminder of Stan's generosity: In 1977, he gave us yards and yards of heavy marine rope to use as interior "trim" between the natural logs of our home. Many things have changed in our homestead over the decades, but the rope remains, as does our memory of the Stephens' family.
Remembering Stan Stephens
by Jonathan Wills, Shetland Islands councillor.
Anchorage, 19th October 2013.
Stan Stephens was one of the Good Guys: a man who lived by decent, honest principles; he was kind, humorous, determined, hard-working and devotedly loyal to his family and friends. He was tolerant of those who crossed him and always tried to avoid personalising an argument and demonising your opponent. He practised what many religions preach, although I never heard him mention religion.
Stan taught me a lot of things about life, about the wildlife tourism business and about environmental politics (with a small 'p')?
So why has someone from the Shetland Islands come here today? I am a recovering journalist and it was the Exxon Valdez oil spill that first brought me to Alaska, a state about which I knew almost nothing before Good Friday 1989. On that first trip to Alaska I didn't get to know Stan, but I heard a lot about him.
I did meet Rick Steiner and Chuck Hamel, however, and we kept in touch after I went home. Then Stan came over to Shetland on a fact-finding visit and I found myself playing a very minor part in the creation of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council.
Stan Stephens was this new organisation's biggest asset. Other tributes, from people who knew Stan better and for longer than I did, have already mentioned his selfless public spirit; his relentless capacity for hard work; and his utter determination to protect and restore Prince William Sound, its wildlife and its people.
It was through his work for RCAC that I got to know Stan properly, in the early 1990s, and to meet Mary Helen and other members of the family. They and other Alaskans became some of my firmest and best friends. And that is why I had to come back to Anchorage at this sad time.
Some personal memories that I'd like to share:
Stan's polite but persistent grilling of poor Jim Hermiller of Alyeska at a hearing in Cordova - in 1991, it must have been - those piercing eyes showing that Stan wasn't just mad at Alyeska for failing to follow through: he was disappointed. As Donna Schantz has said, when Stan was disappointed in you, why, then you felt really bad.
I remember his willingness to give people the benefit of a doubt, even when he knew they'd probably let him down. I won't say Stan suffered fools gladly - his body language made that clear (remember how he'd shake his head in disbelief, roll his eyes and sometimes hold his head in his hands?) but he did put up with them a whole lot longer than someone less charitable would have done.
Then there was the friendliness with which I, a complete stranger from the other side of the world, was welcomed into the Stephens home as a pampered guest. Would I like to borrow a boat and explore Shoup Bay? Help yourself. What kind of loons were those at the head of Valdez Arm on a winter's morning? Stan dropped what he was doing, put on a survival suit and away we went in a rib for one of the best birding trips I ever made. Stan wasn't a twitcher himself, but he understood what makes us twitch.
On another occasion, Stan was going for what he called "a walk" up Mineral Creek. Would I like to come? Even 20 years ago, it was a shock to find that I couldn't keep up with a man 12 years my senior. I wish I'd followed his unsolicited dietary advice, which was gentle but firm: "Don't eat so much! You don't need it and it slows you down!"
On our long drives between Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez, I got to know Stan's life story and to understand the shock Exxon Valdez had been to him, as someone who'd been in favour of development and had believed assurances that the oil terminal and thriving wildlife could co-exist. Like so many other good-hearted optimists around the Sound, he felt he'd been deceived and betrayed by the industry - and by some of the people paid to regulate it.
When the Braer oil tanker disaster hit Shetland in January 1993, Stan's reaction to the news was to jump on a plane - at his own expense, I suspect - and head to Shetland, along with Dan Lawn, Rick Steiner and Scott Sterling. They offered practical advice and moral and political support for our embattled local councillors and officials, trying to cope with this unprecedented emergency. Stan and his colleagues have not been forgotten in Shetland. George Sutherland, Jim Dickson and Martin Heubeck have asked me to convey their condolences. And our council convener has asked me to deliver in person a note of condolence to Mary Helen.
Stan influenced the way I thought about the relationship between the oil industry, wildlife and small communities like ours; but he also changed the course of my life. Twenty two years ago last month, Stan showed me round his fleet of tour boats in Valdez Harbour. He recalled how he'd started part-time, with one little boat, and learned as he went along. He talked about what we now call the eco-tourism business, about advertising and what the visiting public real
Jonathan, I thank you for putting in your notes from your talk in Anchorage. So many kind words-just made me cry to read your comments. But - it stopped short of your ending, leaving me trying to recall what followed. If you can access your copy on the memories page of the site 'keeperofpwscom.com' you could add the rest. If not I'll just keep what is there already. I want to thank you for so much - for coming all the way to Anchorage from "across the pond" too deliver your address, for bringing me the note from your council folks, for my warm scarf and gloves, knitted by the real Shetland people, for the delicious dinner you were not supposed to provide for us, and most especially for being a good friend to Stan and all of us. Come again, any time, but remember the next time to bring your lovely wife so she can plow some of our snow. With love, Mary Helen
I loved my summers working for Stan Stephens Charters, and have the highest regard for each and every one of you. I enjoyed Stan's wry sense of humor and appreciate the integrity and discipline he modeled. I'm thankful that all of you have done your best to protect PWS. I think heaven must be very much like Prince William Sound, so I'm guessing Stan feels at home right now. Much love to you all.