J. Lynn Stephens, 92, of North Port, Fla., passed away peacefully Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, at home, surrounded by friends.
She was born Nov. 3, 1920, in New Albany, Ind., and has been a resident of the area for 50 years.
“It’s better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.” This adage, which appeared as the last line of Lynn Stephens’ newspaper columns, served as her life’s theme. Her creativity is exemplified by her poetry, including an untitled poem which appeared in 1996 in “Spirit of the Age,” the National Library of Poetry’s compilation volume. She has also had two volumes of poetry published. Lynn created Valentine’s Day cards each year with an original poem that she wrote and sent to as many as 200 of her friends and associates.
Lynn served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a member of the Marine Corps Devil Dogs. She produced a Marine Corps recruiting film while in the service. After two years she was honourably discharged for medical reasons. Lynn designed and built WEEJ-FM in Port Charlotte, Fla., in 1976, and sold it in 1981, having managed three radio stations previously in Louisville, Ky., and Punta Gorda, Fla. She co-wrote and published “Charlotte County Landmarks,” of interest to both visitors and historians. It ran as a series on WEEJ-FM.
Lynn’s contributions to the area in which she lived encompassed a long list of volunteered service, in addition to successful business enterprises. She supervised construction of affordable housing units for the elderly, Villas San Carlo I and II in Port Charlotte, and volunteered as President of both. Lynn chaired the Board of Trustees at Bon Secours-St. Joseph Hospital, now known as Peace River Regional Medical Center, leading this not-for-profit facility through a $12 million modernization that added a four-story bed tower.
Lynn served as a charter member of then-Charlotte Vocational Technical Center’s Advisory Board, and as YMCA President from 1982 to 1984. She founded a marketing-communications firm that became Stephens/Lane & Associates in 1972.
There were many honors accorded Lynn: the National DAR Medal of Honor, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Community Service Award. Even in this last month of her life she had been invited by American Legion Post 254 to recognize the invaluable service of members to their country. She was the first woman to receive the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Pacesetter Award in 1987. In 1981, Lynn received the Abe Lincoln Certificate of Excellence, awarded for exemplifying the ideals of Lincoln, and was named a finalist for the Gannett Foundation’s Heart of Gold Award for Southwest Florida’s outstanding humanitarian. In 1987, Lynn was the only Charlotte County person named to Gulfshore Life Magazine’s Perfect Ten. These are representatives of the scores of public-spirited citizens whose background and accomplishments cover a wide range but share in common a determination to make Southwest Florida a better place than they found it.
She’s been a personal counsellor to a number of friends who sought her business and personal problem-solving expertise on a wide range of subjects.
Lynn is survived by her adopted daughter, Carolyn Stephens; as well as a nephew and nieces; and innumerable friends.
Interment will be at a later date at Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Fla.