Chester Leo Stephenson, 74, passed away at home on Sept. 25, 2019. Leo was born on June 30, 1945, in White Salmon, to James and Bessie (Courtney) Stephenson. He was the youngest of 17 children.
Leo grew up in White Salmon and attended the local schools. He loved living in a small community where all the kids could play in the streets and run amok all day in the surrounding wooded area.
At the age of 19, Leo joined the United States Army and served in Turkey and Vietnam as a Communications Specialist and Colonel’s Aide. He loved his military brothers and although he didn’t speak much about his time in Vietnam, he was very proud of his service to his country.
After the war, he returned to White Salmon and began working in the plywood mill at SDS Lumber Co., from which he retired after 36 years.
On July 1, 1967, Leo married Kaye Phelps, the love of his life. They raised two children, Sheila and Devin, and spent 52 years together.
Leo loved children and sports. He spent several years coaching softball and Little League baseball and teaching children how to bowl at the local bowling alley. One of his favorite activities was taking trips with his brother, Duane, to go watch the CHS Bruins play football and basketball.
He enjoyed huge family get-togethers and especially teasing his many nieces and nephews. Over the years, Leo and Kaye opened their home to several children who needed a safe, loving environment in which to live.
Unbeknown to most of his friends and family, Leo loved to buy gifts for less fortunate children in the community because he felt they all deserved to have something nice and something picked out especially for them at Christmas. His generous heart is something his children admired greatly about their father.
Leo’s hobbies included gardening, golfing, bowling, billiards, and softball. He loved taking family road trips and of course, cheering on his Seattle Seahawks. He was also a member of the Mt. Adams Elks, VFW and American Legion.
Leo is survived by his wife, Kaye Stephenson of White Salmon; children Sheila London and her husband Steve, White Salmon, and Devin Stephenson and his wife Debra, Portland, Ore.; brother John “Toppy” Stephenson of Happy Valley, Ore. and sister Louise Mulford of Sunnyside; brothers-in-law Charles “Chuck” Phelps, Ramon Phelps; sisters-in-law Rita Stephenson, Gloria Stephenson and Ruby Stephenson; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, five sisters and nine brothers.
A celebration of life will be held in the spring.