Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tribute To Stephen by Mary Nielson

October 13, 2009

I’m honored to be asked to say a few things about the early life of my wonderful brother Stephen. In 1940 when Jack and Ada Thomas married, dad gave our mother a ring with 6 diamonds in it. One for each of the children they hoped to have.

Chuck was born first, I was second and then John …and they thought they were half done. But it was discovered that mother had serious spinal and back problems that might cripple her if she bore another child.

After several years her health seemed better. In her prayers she made a promise to God that if he would bless her with health and more children, she would devote her life to teaching them to love the Lord and to serve their fellow men.

After Stephen’s birth, she wrote: “Stephen is such a beautiful child. Every time I look at him I think of my wonderful blessing. He has given me new hope.”

I was 5 years older, and liked to pretend I was his mother. I was there clapping with delight when he learned something new, like sitting, walking and learning to talk. Mother said that he would talk and sing all day, but when we came home from school he would get quiet. Because when he said something, we would say “Oh, he is so cute”, and he did not like to be the center of attention. When visitors would come to our house, he would disappear. He even hid at one of his own birthday parties.

Stephen was happiest when he could be outside. When he was 3, mother made a list of what she found in his pocket.
1 feather
2 checkers
6 bent nails (his fish hooks)
1 old curler
1 bottle cap
1 peg from an old ukulele
1 piece of broken glass”

When he was 8 we moved to Prescott. Stephen discovered gardening and planted bulbs and strawberry plants and carefully tended them. Mother wrote: “Stephen is still the same quiet rather shy boy that loves to feed the birds and squirrels and water anything that will grow. He has lots of friends that come here to play cowboys. He has no enemies.” (I loved that…no enemies…he was too kind to have enemies.)

He was a bit of a tease once in a while though…..Our sister Margaret tells how she would sit by Stephen at meal time. She was about 4 years old and he was 12…and was very nice to her. After the prayer was said, she would reach for her glass of water and it was always empty. So she would have to go get some more. That happened almost every night.

Years later, Stephen told her what happened. He would drink his water before the prayer was said. Then during the prayer he would switch his glass with hers.

“When he was 13 he started a morning paper route and arose at 4:30am every morning to deliver 100 papers. He liked to go to bed at dark and then get up and enjoy the morning.”
All that sleep paid off and he grew to 6’3” ….as he entered Arcadia High School.

Some things he loved were animals….all kinds. He had pigeons, snakes, rabbits and a rat named Arthur. He liked Andy Griffeth, Wallace and Ladmo and Maverick.

He liked basketball, high jumping and running. He played the cello and bass. After High School he played bass in his brother Chuck’s popular “Honey and Soul” band.

He had a Tepee, and loved to go camping and biking with his brothers. He attended NAU and then spent 2 years as a missionary in Canada and Montana. During those 2 years he devoted all of his time to the Lord by giving loving service to others.

As I think of Stephen’s life, I realize that my younger brother, who I used to “mother”, has become my teacher in many ways. He quietly served, avoiding recognition. When he saw a need and he quickly responded. He regularly visited and cared for our parents in their old age.

I believe our mother was successful in the promise she made to the Lord…..Her son truly loved and served his fellowmen.

We love you Stephen.

Mary Nielson

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