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William Kelly Stevens


1927 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
William Kelly Stevens Obituary
July 31, 1927 - August 9, 2017 The second eldest of eight, William (Bill) Kelly Stevens (90) was born in the copper mining town of Inspiration, Arizona on July 31, 1927 to Albert and Mildred Stevens. His father took a job as an engineer with Mobil Oil (then known as Socony Vacuum) and the family moved to South Gate, California, later settling in San Gabriel, California where Bill attended Mission San Gabriel Arcangel Grammar School through eighth grade. He entered the Claretian Seminary at Dominguez Hills in 1941. After completing his education at the seminary, he decided to follow his passion in music. He left the seminary and began attending Pasadena City College, soon moving on to study music and art history at the University of Southern California. Bill obtained two bachelor degrees and a masters at USC, and attended Oxford University (Wadham College) on a Fulbright Scholarship studying Latin and Gregorian Chant. He declined an invitation to pursue a Ph.D. at Wadham and returned to the United States, where he began his lifelong musical career in the Catholic Church. He served as the organist at St. Vibiana's Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, later becoming the Music Director at St. Andrew's Church in Pasadena. He fell in love with and married a member of the choir, Barbara Joan Hirka, and they had two children, Andrew and Margaret. Along the way, Bill started the Stevens Music Company (known as Musica Sacre et profana), which focused on choral sheet music. When he closed the doors on this business, he donated a large portion of the sheet music to the music library at California State University, Los Angeles. After he and his wife Barbara separated, he moved to the Camarillo area, becoming the Music Director at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo and the conductor of the Camarillo Community Orchestra. In the 1970s, he moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area, becoming the Music Director first at St. Brigid Catholic Church in San Francisco and then at Old St. Mary's Cathedral in Chinatown, San Francisco. His last position before retiring was as Music Director at St. Teresa of Avila in Auburn, California. In his retirement, he would often play for services at the Sisters of Mercy convent in Auburn. Bill is survived by his siblings Ruth Stevens (Big Sur, CA), Charles Stevens (Danville, CA) and Steven Stevens (Gresham, OR); son Andrew Kelly Stevens (Walnut Creek, CA) and daughter Margaret Palfi Stevens (Los Angeles, CA); grandsons Joseph Kelly Stevens and Alexander Joseph Stevens Meadow; and his many loving cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Bill was a lifelong student and a voracious reader who constantly pursued knowledge on a wide range of subjects, and who continued eagerly absorbing information until his very last days. He will be remembered for his larger-than-life personality, his rapier wit, his amazing creativity, and his deep appreciation for the beauty of life in all of its many facets. Services will take place at the Mission San Gabriel Mission Arcangel on Friday, November 24, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 19, 2017
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