Donald Ray Stephens, 82, of Blountstown died on October 13, 2022, at his home surrounded by his family. He was born on a very cold December 26, 1939, in his family’s log cabin home in Grand Ridge, Florida, to the late Nella G. and Levy James Stephens. His mother always said there were twelve inch icicles hanging from the cabin the day he was born. He was the youngest of seven children. He was a 1959 graduate of Chattahoochee High School. He moved to Jacksonville and attended Jacksonville University but then felt something called him to move home. Shortly after returning, he met and married the love of his life Martha “Mert” Compton in 1962 proposing to her only a few months after their meeting. They knew that God had a divine hand in their meeting. He was a member of Blountstown United Methodist Church, where he remained very active until his death.
Don was known throughout the area for his many community endeavors. His passion was basketball, as he excelled as an athlete in the sport, and he started the Bitty Basketball League in Chattahoochee. It has also been said he had a wicked curveball as a pitcher, and he spent many years as a little league coach in both Chattahoochee and Blountstown. He was instrumental in the creation of Sam Atkins Park. Coach Stephens was often seen driving home from practice with many boys in the back of his truck, dropping them off at their homes along the way. Once he “retired” from coaching he later served as Assistant Commissioner for the semi-pro baseball league, Big Bend Baseball League. Outside of sports, he was an active member of the Florida Jaycees and served as the State Vice-President of the organization. He later served for many years on the Apalachee Regional Planning Council, where he served as Chairman from 2004-2006.
Professionally, he was employed after high school at The Federal Reserve Bank in Jacksonville and then by Florida State Hospital in the purchasing department. He was then hired by Rockport Yacht and Supply Company as a purchasing agent with RYSCO Shipyard in Blountstown. During the seven years of operation from 1975 until 1982, the shipyard built numerous vessels including ocean tug boats, commercial fishing boats, research vessels, and luxury yachts. He was a liaison between the community he loved and his employer, who provided hundreds of jobs for the area. RYSCO purchased Southern Seafoods, Inc. in 1982, and Don transitioned to Vice President of Sales. He moved to the Space Coast with his family until 1991 when he moved back to Blountstown as the President of LaSDoMar, Inc., serving as a private seafood broker until his retirement.
He had a vibrant passion for vintage automobiles, enjoyed automobile restoration shows and loved to drive his Porsche. He also loved football season, and although he married into an Ole Miss family, his true team was the University of Florida Gators. He was often found on Saturday mornings with the printed list of games and channels beside his recliner ready to start game day.
Don is preceded in death by his grandson, Atticus Stephens, as well as five of his siblings. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mert Stephens and his two sons, Lane Stephens and wife Joetta, of Quincy, and Scott Stephens of Blountstown as well as his “adopted” son, Larry Battle and wife Tarsha, of Blountstown. He has four grandchildren, Amelia Stephens, Ryan Stephens, Slater Stephens, and Christina Stephens and “adopted” grandchildren India and Ajyaa Battle. He is also survived by his brother, Matthew Stephens of Chattahoochee, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends that he considered family.
As in accordance with his kindness and selflessness in life, Don has donated his body to the University of Florida. A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, October 28, 2022, at the Blountstown United Methodist Church in Blountstown, FL. The family will receive friends Friday, October 28, 2022, from 10:00am (CST) until service time at 11:00am (CST) at the church. The family invites all attendees to join them for a meal in the Fellowship Hall immediately after the service. The family will accept flowers but anyone wishing may make contributions to Covenant Care Hospice, 5041 N. 12th Avenue, Pensacola, Florida 32504 or to your favorite charity. All arrangements are under the direction of Charles McClellan Funeral Home in Quincy, FL.
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