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Alan Stephens

  • "I thought, "What a great guy," when I first met Alan and..."
  • "What a wonderful (and mischievous) sense of humor Alan had...."
    - Joanna Snyder
  • "I have known Carol since high school. Sadly my husband and..."
    - Nancy & Terry Coffin
  • "So many fun times at Tablas Creek events with both Alan and..."
    - Deanna and Kurt Voelker
  • "My thoughts are with you and your family during these..."
    - Brenda

Mere words are inadequate to describe the gentle, honorable, well-rounded human being who had a transformational impact on so many lives. Esteemed teacher, coach, mentor, friend, husband, cyclist, traveler and scholar, Alan Wayne Stephens, died Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, in a tragic bicycle-vehicle accident. He was finishing a 50-mile bike ride and returning to Los Osos so he and his wife, Carol Ann, could celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary the next day. As Steinbeck said, "Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." Alan, a retired high school teacher, was admired by students and peers. Former students and fellow faculty credit his effectiveness as a teacher and coach stating he transformed their lives. One student attributed to him her qualification for the Olympics and putting her on a path to earn her Ph.D. Longtime friend, Ann Cierley wrote; "In 1972, as Chair of the History Dept. at Burroughs High School, I welcomed first-time teacher Alan. That began an exemplary career as a teacher and coach. The students whose lives he touched were so lucky '? he was known statewide for his students' success in the Advanced Placement Economics exams and in Track and Field meets. I was lucky to remain his friend beyond retirement." Fellow faculty and friend, Charlie Lattig, said: "Alan was a teacher that loved what he did. It was not a job to him. Being the humble individual that he was, few knew his AP Economics students always scored above state and national averages or that he coached a two-time state champion, two Olympic trials finalists and an Olympian. He approached coaching as he did teaching. He knew his subject in depth and his students and athletes felt how much he cared. He possessed that rare quality of integrity. Whether teacher or coach, he was one of the good guys '? even his first students and athletes fondly remember him." Mike Phillips, who taught in the room next to Alan for 24 years, wrote: "A brilliant teacher, Alan was "old school," one who taught his students by engaging them personally. He always exemplified a commitment to his students and the classes he taught. As his students could testify, Alan was a paragon of organization, preparation and attention to detail, never cutting corners and he expected the same from his students. He didn't make concessions to modern educational theory by lowering his standards. Occasionally, we "team taught." Alan covering history, me teaching literature. It was a pleasure to share those classes with such a conscientious teacher. His students appreciated his great sense of humor. There was a hidden mischievous side to his humor and we collaborated on many practical jokes during those 24 years." Former student and friend, Jay Kovar, said "I trusted and looked up to Alan, felt comfortable asking him for advice. He cared beyond just the athletic field taking time to help his students, including me, get into college. He established BHS's dominant throwing program '? a legacy that continues to this day. Alan was the reason for the success I had as a discus thrower and as a person." Sierra Sands (Ridgecrest) Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Ernie Bell writes: "He was one of the most highly respected teachers in the district '? a phenomenal man and an unbelievably great teacher. Known around other school districts for his knowledge and caring demeanor, Alan was a true professional." Friends Mark and Kathy Torcaso, owners of Mark's Baywood Cyclery, said "He was one of the happiest men we knew, always had a positive attitude and was respected by all who met him. He embraced life and truly cherished every moment here on and off his bike. Everyone who had the opportunity to ride with him enjoyed his company. So many people who knew him only thru his cycling are missing him. He always enjoyed a challenge on his bike, but most importantly to us, he was our friend." Alan was a great pillar of strength and wisdom. Caring, commitment, and passion '? these are the qualities that endeared him to his wife, friends, and students. A gentle, kind, steadfast man with a great story or witty joke to tell, he brought laughter and smiles to all. Fully committed to whatever he was involved in '? his marriage, teaching, coaching, cycling and his world explorations '? he had a solid, genuine and penetrating presence of inspiration and kindness. Those who knew him admired his gentleness and strength. As Han Suyin said, 'There's nothing stronger in the world than gentleness." That was Alan. Alan was born to Carl Wayne and Ona Mae Stephens in Bakersfield, Calif., in February 1948 and attended North High School in Bakersfield. He went on to Cal Poly, where he met and married Rita Beth Dean in 1968.  In 1971, the Stephens's moved to Ridgecrest, Calif., where both taught at Burroughs High School their entire careers. Rita died in 2001.  Alan began to coach at BHS in 1972. In 1975, he bought a bunch of discus' and taught his athletes how to throw them. As the shot put and discus coach, Alan led his Ridgecrest athletes to continued successes in statewide competitions.  Alan loved the Central Coast and visited often during his Ridgecrest years. After he retired in 2002, a mutual friend introduced him to Carol Ann Lockary. They married September 3, 2003, with the commitment to live this life intentionally and in bliss. Alan often mentioned how happy and lucky he was to have found love again. Alan and Carol Ann shared traveling, food and wine events, sailing and living in Los Osos, where their voice mail message states, "We're probably out playing since we live in paradise ..." They enjoyed the abundance of wonderful food produced locally and were regulars at the Farmer's Market. They loved cooking great meals together at home. Alan loved the trips each spring to Europe with Carol Ann '? Ireland and Paris were favorites. At home, he found great joy in cycling and chalked up an impressive 10,000 miles during the remaining 11 months of the year. BHS English teacher Vickie Levack wrote, "No words can truly express the influence Alan had over so many lives '? an inspiration both inside the classroom and out. I will never forget his kindness, the joy and passion he had for life, which he freely shared. The tremendous sorrow at his passing will diminish in time, but the rich legacy he left behind in the hearts and minds, never will." Please share a story, a smile, a laugh, and a glass of wine in Alan's honor. May we all celebrate life as he did! Survivors include his wife, Carol Ann Stephens.  A celebration of his life will be announced later. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the local food bank, and the SLO County Bike Coalition. Benedict-Rettey Mortuary 772-7382 Morro Bay

Published in San Luis Obispo Tribune on Sept. 29, 2013
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Benedict-Rettey Mortuary & Crematorium
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