STEPHENVILLE — Willie Gail Stephens 79, a retired teacher, died at his home on Saturday, June 13, 2009.

Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 16, at the Cowboy Church of Erath County with Werth Mays officiating. Interment will follow at OakDale Cemetery. Visitation will be held 6- 8 p.m. Monday, June 15, at Stephenville Funeral Home.

Mr. Stephens was born July 3, 1929 in Selden, the son of Gail W. Stephens and M.E. Ivy Johnson. He married Loretta Wilson of Stephenville on August 12, 1983.

Mr. Stephens attended public school at Selden and Stephenville High School. He joined the army in 1954 during the Korean War, serving as a steam locomotive repairman and later as instructor for locomotive repair. Some of those steam locomotives are still in service in Korea today.

Upon his discharge from the army, he completed his education, earning a Master’s degree in mathematics and English from Tarleton State University. For 27 years, he was an educator, teaching 2 years at Three-Way School and 25 years at Stephenville ISD.

He was the president of the Stephenville High School Rodeo Club and sponsored many other high school activities. He announced all the Junior High School football games in the 1970s. He also officiated basketball games for 30 years in Erath County and numerous surrounding counties.

In other community activities, Mr. Stephens was Past Master of the Stephenville Masonic Lodge #267. He was a member of the Erath County Sheriff’s Posse for many years. He joined the Selden Baptist Church when he was 13 years old.

In 1989, Mr. Stephens and his wife built Melody Mountain RV and Blue Grass Music Park. They operated the park with much success through 2005 when they decided to sell and retire. Continuing with his love of music, Mr. Stephens was one of the Founding Fathers of the Cedar Point Music Club, where he was the master of ceremonies and enjoyed the “pickin and grinnin” every Thursday night.

He was also an avid hunter and fisherman. He belonged to the Buck Hunting Club where he had many close friends. He appreciated and respected the wildlife and the environment.

Survivors include his wife of 25 years Loretta Stephens; four daughters, Ramona Hill and husband Mike of Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Nita Stephens of Wichita Falls; Johana Rife of Stephenvillle, and Phyliss Rife of Stephenville; two sons, Eugene Battenfield and wife Donna of Stephenville and Robert Wallace and wife Debbie of Hurst; nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; a brother, Vance Stephens and wife Frankie of Gatesville; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by two brothers, Charles Stephens and Sid Stephens.

Mr. Stephens discussed often and at length his strong belief in education and its benefit to young people. Because of this, his family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Willie Gail Stephens SHS Career and Technology Scholarship Fund at 2655 W. Overhill Dr., Stephenville, Texas 76401

Online condolences may be made at

Published June 15, 2009

Stephenville Empire-Tribune