Saturday, May 13, 2006

Farewell to a Great Man. George Stephen

I am sure those who knew George, also knows he passed away April 27th. His obituary was printed on Sunday May 7th in the Austin American-Statesman. I've also posted it below.

I met George at a poker game probably 7 or 8 years ago and have played with him many times since. He was a very respected man whom I found to have a great sense of humor, a fierce competitiveness, extremely intelligent, and out right fun to play with. While my only interactions with him were primarily poker related, I knew him to be a man who I am sorry that I only knew in his twilight years.

One of George’s friend (and long-time fellow poker player) and I were reminiscing about him and some of his poker antics tonight. He was telling me about his conversation with George when he last saw him not long before his passing. George stated, “You know, if I hadn’t chased all of them damned straights and flushes all those years, I’d finished a winning player.”

George; in my book you did finish a winner. Farewell. Fair winds, and following seas.

George A. Stephen died at his home in Austin in the company of his family on April 27, 2006. He was a nationally-recognized tax lawyer and authority on civil and criminal tax fraud. Until his final illness, he was in private law practice in Austin and Washington, DC. He had retired in 1973 as Chief, Intelligence Division, United States Internal Revenue Service, based in Austin. During his 25 year career with the IRS, he was twice given Outstanding Performance Awards and at retirement received the Albert Gallatin Award, the Department of Treasury's highest career service honor, conferred by US Treasury Secretary George P. Shultz. He earlier received a Special Commendation by US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for outstanding achievement in the extended federal investigations of the US Task Force on Racketeering and Organized Crime. George was a visiting lecturer on civil and criminal tax fraud at the University of Texas School of Business and Texas Junior Bar Association and a seminar instructor in financial investigative techniques for the Texas Department of Public Safety Investigative Training Schools. He was past chairman of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and former chairman of the Board of Directors of the Government Employees Federal Credit Union. George received a BBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin and completed all accounting courses for an MBA there. He received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from South Texas College of Law, Houston. He had earlier completed 3-1/2 years of Texas A&M's 5-year petroleum engineering degree program when he was drafted after Pearl Harbor. He was commissioned by the US Army Air Corps as a Bombardier Navigator at Kelly Field, San Antonio. After graduating from Pan American World Airways Advanced Navigation College at Homestead, Florida, he flew in bombers and multiengine aircraft in combat in every WWII theater of war. He also served as a special consultant on fuel-conservational transoceanic and transpolar route planning. Later, he was among the volunteers who flew the "Hump" over the Himalayas between India and China to supply Chinese and Russian Allies. Following the end of WWII, "five years, a wife, and one baby later," as he often said, he began college anew at UT while working full time as a radio news and sports announcer. George was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, July 14, 1920. As a youth, he lived in five Texas and Oklahoma cities as the family followed his father's oil business. He attended San Jacinto High School in Houston as a freshman, where he drew attention on the track team as a prospective Olympics high hurdler. When the East Texas oilfields boomed, he moved with his family to Kilgore, where he starred as an all-regional basketball player and left end on the championship football team at Kilgore High School and met his future wife, LaVerne Anding. He was preceded in death by his parents, John Earnest Stephen and Vida Klein Stephen; his wife of 53 years, LaVerne (MiMi) Anding Stephen; and his son, David Darden Stephen. Survivors in his immediate family are his brother, John Erle Stephen of Austin; granddaughter Sarah Stephen and daughter-in-law Jeanna Hamilton Stephen of Bulverde; niece Leslie Stephen and her husband, Anthony L. Renzi, of Austin; nephew Kurt Stephen and his wife, Victoria Shawn Stephen, of McAllen; and great-nieces Elyse Stephen and Sophia Stephen and great-nephew Alexander Stephen, all of McAllen. George was admired for the intelligence, insight, and integrity he brought to all his dealings and relationships. He had a fun-loving spirit and wit, and his wisdom and generosity enriched the lives of many friends and relations. He was a fierce competitor at bridge, chess, and poker, which he played regularly until a few weeks before his death. He supported many charities as an Honorary Member of the Stephen F. Austin Chapter-Order of DeMolay, Honorary Lifetime Member of the Elks, 25 year member of Hill City Lodge No. 456 AF&AM, Scottish Rite Mason-32nd Degree, and sponsor of activities of the Austin Area Boy Scouts and Vaughn House, Inc. He also was a director of the Austin Area Garden Council and organized the Austin Rose Society, serving three terms as its president. A Life Member of the University of Texas Ex-Students Association and Member of the UT Longhorn Club, his other memberships included the Travis County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, American Judicature Society, Association of Former Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Austin Chess Club, Texas Chess Association, and US Chess Federation. George's family is grateful to all the dedicated professionals who cared for him over the past eighteen months, most especially to Angie Richter, Ida Sparks, and Ernest Valle, and to the huge circle of friends and professional associates who showed their love and respect for him in so many ways. In keeping with his wishes, George was cremated and his remains will be buried privately by the family at Lake Side Cemetery, Eagle Lake, Texas; a farewell gathering of his friends and family will be held in Austin on June 7th at 4:30 p.m. in the Amphitheater at Laguna Gloria. Memorial contributions may be made to Vaughn House, Inc., of Austin; Houston Shriners Hospital for Children; or Scottish Rite Learning Center of Austin. Published in the Austin American-Statesman on 5/7/2006..

No comments: