A crowd of 50 gathered at Holly Hill Cemetery pavilion last Friday for the unveiling of a new plaque that dedicated the structure to Charles Howard Stephens, Sr. who passed away May 10 after he lost his battle with cancer.


A crowd of 50 gathered at Holly Hill Cemetery pavilion last Friday for the unveiling of a new plaque that dedicated the structure to Charles Howard Stephens, Sr. who passed away May 10 after he lost his battle with cancer.



Stephens, a staple of the church community, worked at the St. Joe Paper Company for 31 years and served the city of Port St. Joe for two terms as a commissioner from 2007-11.



He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, son Chuck, and daughters Gaynell and Lynn.



Stephens approached then-County Commissioner Jerry Barnes with the idea to erect pavilions at the Holly Hill and Forest Hill cemeteries where mourners could seek refuge from the hot summer sun during funeral services.



Both pavilions were ultimately erected by the Gulf County Maintenance Department and in April, Stephens’ children went before the Port St. Joe city commission to ask commissioners to consider the dedication.



The motion was approved and Stephens received the good news just weeks before his passing.



Mayor Mel Magidson and City Manager Jim Anderson led the proceedings and welcomed those in attendance and recognized family members.



Magidson took a few moments to reflect on Stephens’ contributions to the community both as a commissioner and a man of faith.



“We’re here to honor his memory,” said Magidson. “This is long overdue.”



Jerry Stokoe also spoke about Stephens’ life and reminded everyone of the annual Thanksgiving dinners that Stephens helped to serve to 1,400 needy individuals throughout Gulf County.



Ruth Pettis reminded everyone of his generosity while son-in-law, Bob Jones, shared a story from the day that Stephens received the cancer diagnosis.



After getting the news and leaving the doctor’s office, the family, overcome with emotion, could barely hold themselves together. Meanwhile, Stephens simply suggested that they go get some lunch, a family tradition.



The mayor then revealed the plaque which was greeted with a round of applause. The verbiage for the decoration was written by the city and Ramsey’s Printing facilitated the creation of the plaque.



City Clerk Charlotte Pierce assisted the mayor in coordinating the event.



“He was very special,” said Pierce. “He’s very deserving of it.”



Once closing remarks were complete, Stephens’ widow Bonnie received hugs and anecdotes about her late husband from nearly all in attendance.



“He loved everyone.” said Bonnie. “I’m so proud, so grateful and totally humbled.”