Donald Stephenson

Obituary of Donald L. Stephenson

Donald Stephenson, 76 of Melbourne, Florida, passed away on April 27, 2024.  He was the son of Lowell and Dorothy Stephenson, brother of Scott Stephenson (who died in infancy), and beloved sister, Laurie S. Stein, who survives him, also of Melbourne. 

Don graduated from Melbourne High School with honors in 1969, with his classmates pushing his wheelchair from class to class.  He was physically disabled from birth, however he was very intelligent.  His mind was very sharp, creative, and deep; with a witty sense of humor and a jovial spirit -- all of which he put to good use during his life, as an author, philosopher, and a man of deep faith in God. 

He lived at home all his life until 1984. In 1972, he joined the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, attended services there, and began writing weekly Meditations based on Scripture for their weekly program bulletin. Because of the importance of his work, he became the Church Librarian there, and remained as such until December, 1984, when he began the next chapter of his life, and moved to Carnegie Gardens Nursing Home in Melbourne.

This move away from home, opened up a new world for him, with new people, new activities, and new opportunities for him to use his special talents. He was an avid reader (and read hundreds of books), loved to listen to music, and enjoyed watching his DVD’s, as well as writing – which he did by the “peck & peck” method on his manual typewriter (a skill he learned earlier in trade school).

During the years at Carnegie Gardens (later known as Wavecrest, and now Bedrock Health & Rehab), he continued to write his weekly Meditations on Scriptures which were published in the monthly “Carnegie Courier” that were sent out monthly to over 2,000 people, and also sent to his church congregation.  He also authored several book manuscripts, “Brothers of the Heart,” “Climbing Faith Mountain,” and “Miracles Within”. The staff at Carnegie was so taken by his writings, that he was assigned the task of writing congratulatory, sympathy, and other notes to the community on behalf of the facility.

While at Carnegie, he served as President of the Residents’ Council there for 33 years (from 1986-2019). This kept him “in the loop” which he liked, while representing the interests of the other residents. In 1991, he received an award for “Carnegie Gardens Resident of the Year” for all his volunteer work there, and was also featured in several articles in the “Melbourne Times” newspaper over the years.  Because of his many accomplishments and contributions to his church and community, a Proclamation was declared by Harry C. Goode, Jr., Mayor of the City of Melbourne, Florida, that “December 10, 2004” be known as “Donald Stephenson Day.” His contributions continued to be recognized on a statewide basis, when in 2010, he received an award for “Resident Volunteer of the Year” for the State of Florida, by the FHCACA. This made him extremely happy as shown in the picture above!!

He was loved by the Administrator, Maureen Laverty; the Activity Director, Sam Kosmick; the CNA and nursing staff, and other staff members of Carnegie Gardens; his doctor, John Potomski;  as well as friends and members of his church.  They all joined together to celebrate his accomplishments with big “milestone” parties for his 20th, 25th, and 30th (in 2014) anniversaries as a resident volunteer at the facility.  He loved these parties, in and out of the facility!! He would lift everyone’s spirits when they entered his room, laughing and making jokes with the staff, which brightened their day, as well as his. 

Later he wanted to deepen his spiritual life and religious connections, so in December 2017, he joined the congregation of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Melbourne.  This was another new chapter of his life, as he had the spiritual nourishment he needed, comradery, and another outlet for his religious writings.  He had weekly visits from the clergy and volunteers at his new church, so he was able to discuss and contemplate the various Scriptures with them, pray, and receive communion.  He especially looked forward to visits from Verne.  They would talk on a deeper spiritual level, share life’s stories, and shared a lot of laughter.  Then, in 2020, Covid-19 came and changed everything for everyone.  The church staff, however, was always there for him, even at the end of his earthly life – and the beginning of his heavenly life – with Father Tom Phillips.   

His life will be honored and celebrated at a gravesite funeral service on May 15, 2024, at 11:00 am at the City of Melbourne Cemetery, 710 E. Hibiscus Blvd, Melbourne, Florida (across from the Melbourne Civic Auditorium).  A Reception Luncheon will immediately follow the service.  Rest in peace, “brother dear” (as I affectionately called him.) Beckman-Williamson Funeral Home in Rockledge/Viera is in charge of arrangements.  

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 1830 S. Babcock Street, Melbourne, FL, 32901. 

Wednesday
15
May

Graveside Service

11:00 am
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
City of Melbourne Cemetery
710 E. Hibiscus Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida, United States
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