Donald Leland Stevens, beloved by family and friends, died peacefully at home in Taylorsville, Utah on December 6, 2013. He was 84 years old.
Don was born on January 4, 1929 in Evanston, Wyoming, the eighth of nine children of Leland H. Stevens and Myrtle Ann Tuttle. The Stevens family always enjoyed sports. Don and his brothers played on several winning football and basketball teams for Evanston High School, where Don served as the student body president, 1946-1947.
At the University of Utah, Don played football for Coach Ike Armstrong, participated in track and graduated in 1954 with a degree in business. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, 1951-1953, both on the front lines and at Pearl Harbor.
Don was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On June 25, 1951, he married Mayre Beth Nielsen in the Salt Lake Temple, and they became the parents of six children. While living in Ogden, Utah, he was called as the scoutmaster for a troop of 28 scouts, and then as the bishop of the 73rd Ward of the Weber Heights Stake. It pleased him when most of the young men went on to become Eagle Scouts and serve LDS missions.
The Stevens family settled in the Federal Heights area of Salt Lake City. As a businessman, Don worked in the securities industry for nearly 30 years, becoming the manager and vice president of companies such as Thomson McKinnon, E.F. Hutton and Boettcher. He served his clients well and was respected for his integrity and insight. He devoted himself to making the world a better place.
After a divorce, Don married Paulette Flandro Pope on November 27, 1992 and helped to provide a stable environment for her seven children. For several years, they lived in his hometown of Evanston, a place he loved. He encouraged economic development and served on the board of the Community Foundation for Uinta County. Always a quiet, kind and gentle man, Don loved his family and friends and was a sweet influence in many lives. We are honored to have known him.
My wife, Cher, called me yesterday morning in tears after witnessing a puppy killed by a speeding driver. She then relayed her experience of how an unexpected group of strangers came together to care for the dog and bring a degree of comfort to a grieving family. Stories help us make sense of that which is senseless . This is for six year old McKenna Latimer that she may know that amidst tragedy we can find goodness in humanity. — Posted to Facebook, September 23, 2013
Three friends settled down for brunch at Blimpies.
A woman, early for her flu shot appointment,
Strode leisurely on the opposite side of the street.
Further down, a homeless man opened up his cardboard sign
And sat on the curbside hoping for a good day and many dollars.
Brisk September mornings are invigorating as well to dogs.
A pug and her little pup had escaped their yard
Romping and frolicking, inseperablly
Following their noses in innocent delight.
First one way, and then another, they explored this urban world
Some distance from their home.
As the two crossed the busy four lane,
The man, the woman, and the friends all took notice.
None had ever seen a dog hit by a car.
No one wants that experience.
They felt relief seeing the pups safe on the other side.
No one knows what prompted them to recross.
No one knows the minds of dogs.
But as they approached the median
A large SUV came barreling south.
The homeless man threw down his sign and
Threw up his hands in a mute and futile gesture
To get the attention of the driver.
Oblivious to the dogs.
There was no horn, no screeching of brakes
No scream from the people, no yelp from the dogs.
Just a thud.
And the red Trailblazer sped away.
One said it was miraculous that the mother survived.
Another said little Chewy shielded her from harm.
Suzi quickly sniffed her lifeless son and knew instinctively
That survival depended on a quick escape.
The homeless man raced to the scene
And gently brought the bleeding pup to the curb.
Death came in seconds.
The trio at Blimpies ran out hysterically.
One, a young black man, took off his shirt
And wrapped it around little Chewy
As a shield of respect.
The woman pedestrian read the number from his tag
And phoned the family.
Animal control was first on the scene,
But the homeless man insisted they leave.
He knew the family would want to retrieve their boy.
He guarded the body until the saddened Dad arrived.
Somehow Suzi made it home and waited in the driveway.
Four months, five days, and six hours
So we measure life.
The life of a puppy.
Chewy, though, has to be more than a cipher.
His life, as all life, has meaning
His life, as all life, deserves respect.
A saddened six year old tonight knows
And we all have relearned
That life is fleeting, but love is enduring.
Tragedy reveals greatness in character.
Exercising compassion, as we have seen today,
May be the most defining of all human virtues.
Posted to Facebook, September 23, 2013