Iva Joe Stephens
1920 - 2020
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Iva Joe "Gammie" McGee Stephens passed away peacefully in her home in Ennis, Texas with her son by her side on February 24, 2020, at the age of 99. Iva Joe was born to Iva Myrtle Earp Reed and Joseph McGee on July 31, 2020, in her home on Congress and 1st, Austin, Texas. After losing her father to barber's pneumonia, the toddler along with her older brother, Alton moved with their mother to West Texas. Iva Joe learned the value of hard work as people of later generations might never experience at a very young age as one of the lead milkers of her mother's dairy business. Over the next decade, Iva Joe's three little sisters, Jeanie, Kay, and Susie, would join the family and their momma's dairy "crew" as she moved her milk enterprises from Wink to Breckenridge to Canton and finally back to the Midland area. By the age of 16, Iva Joe went to work for Southwestern Bell as a telephone operator. She would later work for "The Gulf" running switchboards for many years (even as little Gary sat beneath her station in the 1950s.) In 1939, Iva Joe married Milton Ben "Bennie" Stephens of Goliad in Midland at the Presbyterian Church. Iva Joe stayed home and worked while Bennie served our country during WWII playing baseball and boxing to boost troop morale as part of the US Army Air Force. After the war, Iva Joe went to work for Gulf Oil as a switchboard operator. In 1952, Iva Joe and Bennie welcomed the child for whom she had prayed many years, Gary Ben, into the family. In the 1950s, she started her own business of in-home childcare for hundreds of Midland children. People often commented about how well-behaved the 20 or so children behaved in her home, to which she responded, "Well, they didn't come like this. They just needed a little guidance." Her firm but loving hands reared hundreds of Midland area children during the 60s and 70s. Iva Joe was a true revolutionary. She worked as a laborer, as a pioneer in the budding field of technology, as an entrepreneur developing her own in-home child-care service, and even as an innovator who designed and marketed her broom covers and canister sets as a female businesswoman in the 1950-60s. Iva Joe adored her family, especially her only son Gary Ben and only grandchild Savannah. No one loved her sisters, nieces, and nephews more than Iva Joe. She enjoyed traveling, church, telling stories, and social gatherings. Her 90th birthday party, Savannah and Josh's wedding in 2018, and her 99th birthday celebration last summer were especially grand. In 2011 she moved from Midland to Ennis where she was able to live the final decade of her life with her greatest joy, Gary. Iva Joe is survived by her son, Gary Ben Stephens (Joyce) of Ennis, granddaughter, Savannah Stephens and husband Josh Yazman of Washington DC, as well as numerous nephews and nieces. She is preceded in death by her husband Bennie Stephens, brother Alton Pursley, sister Jean Hargrove, sister Kathryn Adams, and sister Wanda Sue Rabb. A visitation will be held 6:00pm-8:00pm, Saturday, February 29 2020 at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home in Midland. Funeral Services will take place at 1:00pm, Sunday, March 1, 2020 at the Nalley-Pickle & Welch Chapel. A graveside service will be held at 3:00pm on Monday, March 2, 2020 at Resthaven Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Iva Joe Stephen's name to the American Cancer Society. Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home in Midland. Online condolences may be made at www.npwelch.com

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Published in Midland Reporter-Telegram on Feb. 28, 2020.
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February 28, 2020
Annie and Benny kept our two boys for many years. We loved them both so much. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family!
Debbie, Jake & Eric Clodfelter
Debbie Clodfelter
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