Bennie (Ben) Eugene Stephenson Sr. left this world peacefully to be with his Lord on August 17, 2017 at the age of 92. He passed away at the home. A visitation, funeral service and reception will be held Tuesday, August 22 at Church of the Resurrection 13720 Roe Ave., Leawood, KS 66224. The visitation begins at 2:00, followed by the service at 3:00 and a dinner reception from 4:00-5:00. Burial will follow at 5:30 pm at Pleasant Valley Cemetery 9501 W. 159th St., Overland Park, KS 66221.
Ben was born in Ferguson, Missouri to Frank Robert and Zelma Mary (Allen) Stephenson on June 8, 1925. He attended the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with a Civil Engineering degree in 1953. He was President of his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity chapter. After graduation, he began a long career with the United States government, working with the Corp of Engineers, Housing and Urban Development, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In 1953, Ben, a young civil engineer, relocated to Leesville, Louisiana, in order to work on a construction project at the Fort Polk Army Base. He met a beautiful young lady named Mary Ann Cronin in church choir practice at First Baptist Church of Leesville, Louisiana. They married in 1954 and had three children, Karen (1955 – 1960), Mark Russell (1957 – 1957), and Bennie Eugene, Jr. (1959 -).
Ben lived with his family in many cities including Leesville, Louisiana, Denver, Colorado, Corpus Christi, Texas, Austin, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, Topeka, Kansas, Overland Park, Kansas, and their final home of Leawood, Kansas. For the past five years the Stephenson’s resided at the Brookdale Leawood independent living community.
Ben was known for his love of golf, baseball, travel, music, theater, talk radio, animals (particularly his highly devoted Chihuahua Rocko), and service to others. Ben and Mary Ann spent many years volunteering at Shawnee Mission Hospital. The Stephenson’s were longtime season ticket holders at The New Theatre Restaurant and Starlight Theater. Ben was an active member of the Overland Park Stage chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society and was honored as their “Barbershopper of the Year” in 2009.
Ben was an ardent supporter of his son Ben’s performing arts, financial services, and entrepreneurial career. Ben’s prized possessions included a personal letter from his favorite professional golfer Arnold Palmer and several golf trophies including one awarded for a spectacular hole in one shot. Ben was also an artist and favored golf and old barn scenes. His favorite activity was listening to Kansas City Royals baseball games on his portable radio.
Ben served his country as a member of the Armed Guard of the United States Navy during World War II, and traveled extensively throughout the South Pacific. Despite numerous weather conditions, and various seagoing vessels, Ben related that he never once experienced seasickness during his entire Navy career. Always drawn to animals, he had a pet monkey named George that slept at his bedside on the ship. Ben loved his country greatly, and remained highly patriotic throughout his life.
Strongly devoted to their Christian faith, the Stephenson’s were longtime members of Leawood Baptist Church (Leawood, Kansas) and College Church of the Nazarene (Olathe, Kansas). For the last five years they were active in the Silver Link Ministry of Church of the Resurrection (Leawood, Kansas).
Ben was preceded in death by his wife Mary Ann Stephenson; his parents Frank and Zelma Stephenson of Saint Louis, Missouri; his daughter Karen Stephenson and son Mark Stephenson; brother Robert “Red” and sister-in-law June Stephenson of Saint Louis, Missouri; sister Virginia Meredith of Jefferson City, Missouri; brother Norman Stephenson of Florissant, Missouri; brother-in-law Russell Cronin of Lufkin, Texas, and nephews George Edward Stephenson, Jr. and Brian Jeffrey Stephenson.
Ben is survived by his son Ben Stephenson, Jr., and his wife Linda (Capps) Stephenson of Overland Park, Kansas; the children of Robert “Red” and June Stephenson: Robert Allen Stephenson, Sharon Gould, Jennifer McDonald, and Arthur Stephenson; brother George and sister-in-law Lila Stephenson of Saint Louis, Missouri and their children: Thomas Stephenson, James Stephenson, and John Stephenson; sister-in-law Dola Stephenson of Norman, Oklahoma and her son: Kenneth Stephenson; sister-in-law Virginia Cronin of Lufkin, Texas, and her children: Russell Cronin, III and Suzanne Cronin, and many extended family members and friends.
Contributions in memory of Ben may be made to the following animal welfare organization:
GREAT PLAINS SPCA
5428 Antioch Drive
Merriam, KS 66202