Rest in Peace, October 2011
Lt Col. Wilbur M Stevenson, Jr died, October 8, 2011, at his family home of almost 35 years, in Citrus Heights, California. Lt Col Stevenson, known as ‘Steve’ and ‘Sonny’ to family and friends, passed while watching football, surrounded by family. Lt Col Stevenson was buried with full honors on October 26th at 1:30 at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. That evening, when returning from the funeral gathering, Winnie Ruth (Waters) Stevenson, Steve’s wife of almost 55 years, collapsed in their bedroom at home. She entered a deep coma and joined him in heaven on the next day, October 27th. Winnie Ruth will be laid to rest on November 7th at the SACRAMENTO VALLEY NATIONAL CEMETERY, alongside her beloved Steve.
Location within cemetery: Section COL-1 ROW C Site 77-B.
This cherished couple will be deeply missed by a great many, especially his surviving family members. Immediate family surviving Steve and Winnie Ruth are their eldest son, Mark Denmore Stevenson and wife Teresa, Deborah Lou Stevenson and husband Bob Ptaszkowski, Dawn Koren Stevenson and partner Bernadette MacInnis, and four grandchildren of blood and marriage, John and Heather Stevenson, and Bobby and Kevin Ptaszkowski. Extended family surviving Steve includes brother in law Billy Robbins, Diane and Les Davis, as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made in Steve’s or Winnie Ruth’s name to one of the following charities:
- The Wounded Warrior http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
- The Disabled Veterans Association http://www.dav.org/donate/Default.aspx
- The Breast Cancer Foundation http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/
Lt Col Wilbur M. Stevenson, Jr
8/15/1930 – 10/08/2011
Steve served his family and his country with fierce loyalty and grace. A dynamic leader, a gifted teacher and a compassionate counselor, this brilliant man touched many lives across many miles over the years.
Born at his family home on August 15, 1930 in Delrose, Tennessee, this remarkable man was the only son of Mamie Lou and Wilbur M Stevenson Sr. Lt Col Stevenson was preceded in death by his father, his mother, and his sister, Meridith, of Jacksonville, Florida.
Described by admirers as a “tender warrior,” Lt Col Stevenson (Steve) dedicated 30 years of his life to serving his country in the United States Air Force. Jet fighter pilot, flight instructor, flight commander and commander of base operations and training were just a few of the roles he played over the life of his decorated career.
Throughout his years, he had the opportunity to fly many types of jets, but logged the most hours in an F100 (1,786 hrs) and a T33 (2,979 hrs). Decorated for having over 5,000 safe hours of jet flying, Lt Col Stevenson earned many awards throughout his career, such as the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star, Air Meritorious Service and Commendation Medals, the Presidential Unit Citation, and many more too numerous to mention. Lt Col Stevenson served at the end of the Korean Conflict and in Vietnam. While pursuing his military degree Steve also completed several degrees, including a Masters (MEd) in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Texas.
Guided by his deep faith and firm values, Steve was always actively engaged in mind, body and in spirit. This level of activity and engagement did not wane until his very last moments on earth. He truly led a full and blessed life. After a lifetime career in the Air Force Steve retired to Northern California, where he pursued lifelong interests and passions. He decided that since he was no longer flying high in his jet, he would fly low on the road on his touring motorcycles, and he racked up the miles traveling across the US and Canada visiting friends and family as well as places of beauty and history. Steve always returned home to his family.
7/19/1937 – 10/27/11
Winnie Ruth Waters Stevenson passed away on October 27, 2011, at Sutter Medical Center in Roseville, California, approximately twenty-four hours after the memorial service for her husband, Lt. Col. Wilbur M. Stevenson, Jr. She was heartbroken and body tired. Steve and Ruth were soon to celebrate 55 years of marriage.
A quiet woman with a gentle spirit, Winnie Ruth was born in July 1937 in West Palm Beach, Florida, to Grable and Vernice (Short) Waters. The eldest of two daughters, Ruth shared her youth with her beloved younger sister, Diane. When Winnie Ruth entered high school, the family relocated to Miami Shores. As a youth, she was active in her church and school, earning good grades, learning the piano and winning awards for her talent and skill in choral direction. After graduating from Miami Edison High School, she attended Stetson University in Deland, Florida. On a weekend college visit with her aunt and uncle in Jacksonville, Florida, Winnie Ruth went on a blind date coordinated by her Aunt Ruth and met the love of her life.
In 1956 she married Wilbur M. Stevenson, Jr (Steve) and moved to Del Rio, Texas, where Steve, a jet fighter pilot, was stationed with the US Air Force. At the age of twenty, Winnie Ruth had her first child, a son, Mark. Daughter, Deborah soon followed. After spending several years across the south (Alabama, South Carolina), the young family temporarily reconfigured to accommodate Steve’s absence due to combat service overseas. Throughout Steve’s tours of Vietnam between the years of 1966 and 1969, the young family remained close to their parents and relatives in Jacksonville and Miami Shores, Florida, where they were well-supported by family and loved ones. In 1969, after Steve completed his duty in Vietnam, the family was reunited and moved to El Paso Texas, where the couple gave birth to their third child, Dawn. Moving subsequently to Bitburg, Germany and later Lakenheath, England, Winnie Ruth spent the better part of the 70’s raising her young children and fulfilling the role of an “officer’s wife.”
When the family returned to the US in the mid-70s, Winnie Ruth also returned to college, and, while the family was stationed at Clovis, New Mexico, completed her Bachelors degree with honors in Integrated Studies with a concentration in Business Administration from Eastern New Mexico University. Shortly after Winnie Ruth completed her degree, the family relocated one final time prior to Steve’s retirement, to sunny Northern California.
Once Steve retired, Winnie Ruth had an opportunity to pursue her career interests: business and healthcare. Blending the two, she earned a certificate in Nursing Home Administration and quickly moved through promotions from Assistant Administrator to Administrator, and enjoyed continuing success with the profession until her retirement from Auburn Gardens in 1993. Upon her retirement, Winnie Ruth engaged in a variety of hobbies, which included quilting solo and with her “quilting group”, sewing and embroidery, stained glass design, cooking, reading, watching television, gardening and going on lunch dates with her husband. For a period of time in the 90s, Winnie Ruth returned to Florida to assist her parents.
In the mid nineties, Winnie Ruth was diagnosed with stage IV acute inflammatory breast cancer and was told that she had “six months to live”. However, after three years of extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she remained “cancer free” for the duration of her life. Despite the odds, this strong woman continued to live and love through it all. Winnie Ruth will be laid to rest alongside her beloved Steve at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery on Monday, November 7th.