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John S. Stevens


1933 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
John S. Stevens Obituary
John S. Stevens

Asheville - John Shorter "Jack" Stevens, 85, died on April 23, 2019 at his home in Asheville.

Jack was born May 30, 1933 in Asheville to the late John Henry Stevens and Viola Shorter Stevens. He attended public elementary schools and graduated from Christ School, Arden, North Carolina in 1952. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1956. After serving two years in the U.S. Army as a Corporal in the Corps of Engineers, he attended law school at the University of North Carolina Law School, graduating in 1961.

Jack began his law career with Anthony Redmond in the fall of 1961. Over several years, the firm expanded to become Redmond, Stevens, Loftin & Currie. In 1986, that firm merged with the firm of Roberts, Cogburn, McClure and Williams to become the firm of Roberts & Stevens. Under Jack's leadership, Roberts & Stevens became one of the preeminent law firms in western North Carolina.

In 1966, he married Imogene "Cissie" Stevens, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College. Their love and respect for each other created the foundation for a lifetime of happiness, success and meaning. They were a model for the rest of us to follow.

In his early career, Jack served four terms in the North Carolina General Assembly (1969-1975) and was Chairman of the House Rules Committee during the 1975 session.

Active throughout his career in the North Carolina Bar Association, Jack was President from 1995-1996 and was inducted into the Bar Association General Practice Hall of Fame in 2013. He was also presented with the 28th Judicial District Bar Association Centennial Award for outstanding service which benefitted his local community. He loved practicing law and remained actively engaged in practice until January of 2019 when he reluctantly retired.

His service to the community was unparalleled. He chaired the Board of Trustees of Mission Memorial Medical Center from 1978-1980 and again from 1992-1995. He was instrumental in the merger of Mission-St. Joseph Health System and chaired that combined board from 1996-1998. He was also a member and chaired the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina Health Care System in Chapel Hill.

He was one of the first directors of Lawyers Mutual Liability Insurance Company and served on the board and Executive Committee from 1982 until 2009. He was also Chairman of the Asheville Regional Airport Authority. He served on many other boards and commissions, including the North Carolina Humanities Council, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cherokee Indian Hospital, the Governor's Task Force for Safe Roads and the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority.

Jack was also an active member of the Pen & Plate Club from 1967 until his death.

A skier all his life, Jack was a member of the National Ski Patrol at Cataloochee Ski Resort and Wolf Laurel in the late 1960's and early 70's and taught his three boys how to ski. He also loved the Rocky Mountains and skied out west annually until he was 80 years old. An avid hiker, Jack and Cissie hiked Hadrian's Wall in England and the footpaths of France, but their favorite hike was Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which they summited more than forty times. An accomplished sailor, he and his friend Bill Holdford made dozens of trips through the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island and also an annual trip to the Chesapeake Bay. He also sailed Charleston Harbor and throughout the Caribbean with friends and family. More than anything, Jack enjoyed being outside, among friends and family.

An accomplished historian, Jack lectured on the History of Buncombe County at the College For Seniors at UNC Asheville from 2000-2016. Shortly before his death, Jack published a book entitled A Short Buncombe County History. Although Jack and Cissie enjoyed traveling immensely, his home was Buncombe County, where he could trace his direct lineage back to 1820 when Henry Stevens came over the mountains from east Tennessee to marry Nancy Foster and make a home in south Asheville. At the start of his book, Jack quoted author Fred Chappell: "Who you are is where you're from and where you're from is where you are going."

In addition to his parents, Jack was preceded in death by his brother James Robert Stevens, II of Winston-Salem. Surviving are his sister, Mary Stevens Hood of Virginia Beach, VA, his wife of 53 years, Cissie Stevens of Asheville; sons, Brent Stevens and wife, Kelly, of Charlotte, Wyatt Stevens and wife, Kim, of Asheville and Scott Stevens and wife, Jenny, of Charlotte; grandchildren, Jonathan, Ashlyn and Wyatt Stevens of Charlotte, Katie and Gracie Stevens of Asheville and John, Sam and Ella Stevens of Charlotte. He is also survived by his beloved dog, Beau, who helped keep him company during his last difficult months.

Jack was a long time member of Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Asheville. A funeral service in celebration of Jack's life will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2019. A reception will follow in Tuton Hall.

Buncombe County and western North Carolina are better for having Jack Stevens.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Pisgah Legal Services, 62 Charlotte Street, Asheville, NC 28801.

Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family and the memorial register is available at grocefuneralhome.com.
Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times on Apr. 25, 2019
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