Earl Julius Stephens, age 92, died Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, after a short period of declining health at Vero Health and Rehab of Sylva.
Earl was a long-time resident of the Moses Creek community of Cullowhee where he was a member and deacon of the Moses Creek Missionary Baptist Church. He retired from Dayco as a textile worker. Prior to working at Dayco, he was a long-time construction worker and heavy equipment operator for W.B. Dillard Construction, which built petroleum facilities and highways throughout North Carolina. Earl proudly worked for Jackson County as one of the first Staff Recycling Center employees and for Smoky Mountain High School’s cafeteria where he delivered meals and sometimes made sure students didn’t go hungry. He also served in the U.S. Army as a war veteran during the Korean conflict. He was a big and tall man that could have an intimidating appearance, but had a big heart, especially for his family and young people.
Stephens was preceded in death by his parents, Howard Stephens, Lettie Estelle Fore Stephens; a sister, Nina Stephens Ledford; and a daughter-in-law, Donna Woodard Stephens.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Joyce Smith Stephens of the home; two sons Tommy Stephens (wife Vangie Wolfe Stephens) and Ricky Gregory Stephens (deceased wife Donna); three grandsons, Brandon and Jake (wife Ahlisha Littlejohn Stephens) both of Cherokee, and Victory Gregory Stephens of Waynesville; two great-grandsons, Kaden and Carter (sons of Jake); and an adopted sister, Patricia Tuller of Sylva.
Memorial services and celebration of life were held on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Moses Creek Baptist Church. Rev. Earl Holden and Brandon Stephens officiated and delivered eulogy.
The family received friends at 11 a.m., and services began at 11:30 a.m.
Appalachian Funeral Services and Crematorium assisted with the services.
In lieu of flowers and cards, Earl’s wishes are for donations to be made to the Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital, which was one of his favorite charities, or to a favorite charity in his name.