Don Edward Stevens, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and "Coach" to so many, was born on Oct. 4, 1933, the second of three sons of Houston and Ora Stevens of Weatherford, Texas. Don passed away on Dec. 6, 2015 to be into the loving arms of his Lord, and welcomed into heaven by a host of family and friends.|
Don was a 1952 graduate of Lamesa High School, in Lamesa, Texas, where he was an award winning basketball player, under legendary coach O.W. Folis. Don went on to play basketball two years at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. This 1953 team advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament Semi-Finals, compiling a sparkling 34-6 record. Don went on to play one year at the University of Corpus Christi (now Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi) before transferring to Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees.
During his high school and college careers, Don earned numerous honors for his exemplary play. Coach Stevens spent two years in the United States Army where he was Player-Coach for First Infantry Division Basketball team in Fort Riley, Kan.
He knew his calling was coaching. Don began his coaching career at the junior high level in Big Spring, Texas, coaching all sports. This was followed by ten years at Forsan High School, in Forsan, Texas. At Forsan, Don led the Forsan Boys' Basketball team to two district championships and tying for a third; and led the Girls' Basketball team to seven district championships in ten years, advancing once to the state tournament. During this time, the Forsan Girls' team won 71 consecutive district games. He served on the board of directors of the Texas High School Girls Coaches Association.
In the summer of 1973, Coach Stevens was one of seven American coaches selected to spend the summer in Mexico conducting coaching clinics in Mexico City and Vera Cruz.
In 1976, Coach Stevens was named Head Women's Basketball Coach at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. Up until this time, the HC Women's Team had had won very few games. In his first year, Coach Stevens led his team to an 18-11 record. In his second year, his team, then known as the Hawk Queens, won the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Championship and were Region V finalists. During his 13 years as Coach of the Howard College Hawk Queens, Coach Stevens led his team to three WJCAC Women's Conference Championships, including being Regional Finalists in 1978 and 1980, and winning the Region V Championship in 1982. He was WJCAC Coach of the Year three times, and Region V Coach of the Year in 1982. The Hawk Queens were ranked number one in the nation on several occasions.
While at Howard College, Coach Stevens developed and coached three First Team NJCAA All-Americans. Many of his players went on to receive scholarships to continue their education and athletic career at major universities including Baylor, Texas Tech, Arizona State, UNLV, University of Houston, University of Hawaii, and San Diego State. Hawk Queens who played for Coach Stevens still hold many of the Howard College records for Individual Games, including Most Points Scored, Most Field Goals, Most Rebounds, Most Assists, and Most Blocked Shots; and Individual Season Records including Most Points Scored, Most Rebounds, Highest Rebound Average, and Most Blocked Shots.
Coach Stevens retired from Howard College and coaching in 1989 with a lifetime coaching record of 508 wins and 236 losses. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard College in 1990.
In 2015, Coach Stevens was inducted into the NJCAA Western Conference Hall of Fame. This Hall of Fame honor was truly one of the greatest honors of his life and his gratitude was magnified by the support of the Howard College leadership, led by Dr. Cheryl Sparks, and the NJCAA Region Five Commissioner, Lyndon Hardin, for making this dream a reality. The ceremony, held in the Dorothy Garrett Coliseum in Big Spring was attended by many of Don and Cheryl's Dallas friends, which made it so special for him in so many ways. A job well done, Coach.
Don was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Large B-Cell Lymphoma in 2003. During his 12-year battle with the horror named cancer, Don set an example for all who knew him with his strength, positive attitude, optimistic spirit, and will to get better. That, along with the prayers of many friends, his faith in God, and his always incredible positive outlook, kept him going for so many years. The family thanks Dr. Lalen Wilfong and the team at Texas Oncology at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas for their unwavering commitment to getting Don well and cancer-free.
Don passed away due to heart failure on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. During his final weeks, he was professionally and lovingly cared for in the Critical Care Unit of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano. The family is grateful for the care Don received during the most difficult time.
In 1984, Don married the true love of his life, Cheryl. Together, they built a wonderful life, moving from Big Spring to Dallas in 1990. This move proved to be so important in their lives as it enabled Don to have the very best medical care during his illness. In 2015, they celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary…each year more treasured than the last.
In addition to Cheryl, Don is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Vance and Donna Stevens of Deer Park, Texas; his grandson and granddaughter-in-law, Jared and Randi Stevens of Baird, Texas; great-grand-daughters, Stokley Stone and Landry Stevens of Baird, Texas; and great-grandson, Charlie Stevens, of Seabrook, Texas; and two nieces, Shannon and Erin.
In addition to his parents, Don was preceded in death by his son, Don Bradley Stevens; his daughter, Valerie Beth White; his grandson, Jason Stevens; two brothers, Elgin Stevens and Burnell Stevens. His constant companion, Jackpot Stevens, has now welcomed him at the Rainbow Bridge.
Don's quick wit and playful sense of humor could always bring a smile and chuckle to all who knew him. Don loved to play golf, he loved to gamble, he loved to sing, he loved watching all sports and he loved his news and his newspaper. He loved his family. And we so loved him.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 at Sparkman Hillcrest at 2 p.m. followed by a Celebration of Don's life and spirit at Maggiano's at Northpark Mall.
The family welcomes your floral remembrances, a gift to your special charity, or gifts to the Women's Basketball Program at Howard College, c/o Dr. Cheryl Sparks, 1001 Birdwell Lane, Big Spring, Texas 79720.
My darling, Don, peace and freedom from pain be with you at last. May your energy and strength be abundant. Your death leaves a heartache no one can heal. But your love leaves a memory no one can steal. Hit 'em long and straight, Honey, and I will see you soon.
Published in Big Spring Herald on Dec. 8, 2015