Deacon Robert Edward Stephens, 88, affectionately known as Nat and Steve, departed this life Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at Southside Regional Medical Center.

He was preceded in death by his parents, David and Sylvia Dickerson Stephens; oldest beloved grandaughter, Tiffanie Marie Dixon; brothers, Clarence and Willard Stephens; and one son-in-law, Al Sullins.

Deacon Stephens was a native of Pittsylvania County, starting his relationship with Christ at the Shockoe Missionary Baptist Church in Pittsylvania County, Java, Va. He later moved to Petersburg, uniting in marriage on Oct. 8, 1949, to Marie Harston for 63 years. In this union were born two daughters, Shelley Vernetta and Kim Roberta.

He later moved his membership to Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Petersburg. He enjoying being active in his church and community while serving in the capacity on the Deacon Board for over 40 years, dedicated to assisting ministries to increase the Kingdom of Christ, founded the Transportation Ministry and Hospitality Ministry.

As part of fulfilling his civic duties for the city of Petersburg, he served on the Crater District Planning Commission for over 20 years and an active role in the membership drive for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was an employee with Fort Lee Army base as a steam engineer. He retired after 30 years of service.

Deacon Stephens was a entrepreneur and a astute businessman. He was a prominent barber in the Petersburg area and later became the sole proprietor of Gentlemen's Quarter Barber Shop.

Deacon Stephens was a patriotic citizen to his country. He entered the United States Army and was stationed in Hawaii for most of his military term, where he worked in the area of procurement. In 1947, he exited from the Army with an honorable discharge. This opportunity gaveway for him to further his education and graduated from what is now known as Virginia State University.

Left to cherish his precious memories: loving, devoted and caring wife for 63 years, Marie Harston Stephens; two loving daughters, Shelley Vernetta Stephens Sullins and Kim Roberta Stephens Dixon (Marvin Sr.); four grandchildren, Alan Davison Sullins II, Marvin Maurice Dixon II, Monteque Edward Dixon and Alysia Della-Marie Sullins; three great-grandchildren, Robert Maurice Dixon, Kailynn Tiffanie Dixon and Monteque Edward Brown-Dixon; two brothers, Harris Stephens (Mary) and Gene Stephens (Margret); five sisters, Sylvia Hall, Gladys Goodrum, Elma Wimbish, Mabel Credle and Louise Overton; sister-in-law, Thelma Fitzgerald; and a host of loving and supportive nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.

A celebration of life will be held 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Petersburg. The Dr. Wesley K. McLaughlin will officiate. Interment will be in the Dinwiddie Memorial Park. The family may be contacted at 804-732-4839.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the staff of William N. Bland and Son Funeral Home, Petersburg; the Rev.William N. and Mrs. Doris B. Bland Jr., and Mr. James I. Gay, funeral directors. For more information or to leave an online condolence, visit

Published in The Progress-Index from Jan. 13 to Jan. 17, 2013