Joseph Ellis Stevenson, known to most everyone simply as “Joe,” passed away Monday, February 7, 2022 just 4 days after celebrating his 99th birthday at the home he and his wife Amy built in 1966 on East Bay, in Hickory Shores, Gulf Breeze, Florida. He was a proud husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, neighbor, and woodworker. He had a true zest for life and loved to fish, hunt, and entertain. While he loved to have fun, more than that, he loved watching people have fun and always enjoyed a great party. He had a passion for working with his hands and helping others and will lovingly be remembered as the first person family, friends, and neighbors called anytime, day or night, when something needed to be fixed or built.
Joe was born February 3, 1923 in Trenton, New Jersey to Horace “Steve” Norton Stevenson and Elizabeth Quackenboss Stevenson. He grew up fishing, swimming, and canoeing on the Delaware River and enjoyed sailing during summers at the YMCA camp in Trenton. During the holidays of his senior year of high school, a friend who attended University of Alabama, convinced him to come to school in Tuscaloosa because they threw good parties at his fraternity. Joe and his friend schemed a plan to have his friend’s father, who regularly played poker with Steve at the family business, J.E. Stevenson Co. Coal and Building Supply, to convince Steve to send Joe there for college. This scheme turned out to have the greatest reward for him as he met his “little girl” Amy at a fraternity/sorority mixer at an Alabama football game in 1942. Shortly after they started dating, he was drafted into the Army with orders to go to Europe and he and Amy wed on May 21, 1943. To pay for school, Joe worked as the handyman for his fraternity house and taxied Stearman biplanes to hangers at the airport. While at University of Alabama, he studied aeronautical engineering, was in Army ROTC, and a member of Theta Xi fraternity. He also claimed to be the Old Crow Drinking Champion of the university, but to this date, no one in the family has been able to find the trophy.
During the war, Joe served in the 7th Army, 103d Infantry in France, Germany, and Austria as a machine gunner and truck driver. His only directive for his obituary was to “make sure you get it right where I served because every World War II veteran’s family thinks he was in the Battle of the Bulge and served under Patton and there is no army big enough for all the soldiers whose obituaries say they were in the Third Army.” While a consummate war time soldier who neither glorified nor diminished his service, he was proud to have been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
After the war, he and Amy moved to Pensacola in 1946 where he took a job as a draftsman at Newport Industries for a number of years. He later became a sales manager at Son Motor Company where he worked through the 1950’s and early 60’s. He then worked for Liberty National Insurance in sales and management. Joe never minced words, was proud of being direct and brutally honest, and was an exacting manager. Indeed, he claimed responsibility for Fred Levin going to law school after enduring a summer working for him at Son Motor Company.
Joe retired from Liberty National in the early 1980’s and did not slow down. He stayed busy working on various projects building cabinets, fences, decks, and even a boat for family, friends, and neighbors. He always had a project to work on. He volunteered thousands of hours building houses for Habitat for Humanity until he was 90. He was awarded a Sertoma Service to Mankind Award for his work with Habitat for Humanity, and he and Amy were proud to have sponsored a Habitat home. He served for years as an usher at Gulf Breeze United Methodist, and he and Amy were beloved members of the Community Life United Methodist Church at the time of his death. He also spent his retirement being the best grandfather and great grandfather anyone could have.
Joe loved his family more than anything else. He still referred to Amy as his “girlfriend” after 78 years of marriage. He was the patriarch of three children, 13 grandchildren, and 23 great grandchildren and numerous friends and family who came to the house through the years to enjoy he and Amy’s hospitality. He was a great storyteller and reveled in remembering funny moments. He loved to have family and friends over for fried mullet and boiled crab fresh off his dock and to shoot pool and watch football, NASCAR, baseball, or “the golf” in his garage. He was quick with solid advice, solicited or unsolicited, that rarely missed the mark.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters Julia “Jule” Washburn, Willma “Bill” McQuade, his brother Horace “Bud” Norton Stevenson, Jr., and his son Joseph “Joey” Ellis Stevenson, Jr. He is survived by his wife Amy Ellis Stevenson; his children Roy James Stevenson of Gulf Breeze and Rebecca Scrivner Lemmon of Pace and her husband Asa; and his grandchildren Amy Elizabeth Stevenson Clanton and her husband Greg of Gulf Breeze, Anna Ellise Stevenson and her fiancé Shaun Rutherford, of Gulf Breeze, Daniel Stevenson and his wife Mariette of Gulf Breeze, Samuel Stevenson of Gulf Breeze, Eric Stevenson and his wife Carrie of Pensacola, David Stevenson and his wife Jessica of Navarre, Horace Isaac Stevenson of Pensacola, Joy Stevenson Williams and her husband Troy of Jacksonville, Sarah Stevenson Wiggins and her husband Josh of St. Augustine, Christine Connell Bogdanovic and her husband Alex of Tampa, Ben Scrivner of Pensacola, Sara Scrivner Seuzeneau and her husband David of Pensacola, and Kristen Scrivner Beck and her husband Justin of Pensacola. He is also survived by his great grandchildren: Joey and Hannah Clanton; Harper and Emily Stevenson; Amelia, Charlette, and Tillie Stevenson; Joseph “Cole” and Lucy Adams Stevenson; Jaylynn and Isaac Caron and Autumn and Ella Stevenson; Tyler and Trever Williams; Wesley and Zachary Wiggins; Jacob and Gwyneth Baehr; Paige and Emily Seuzeneau; and Hudson, Shepard, and Ingrid Beck. He will be missed by his Liberty National friends, Hickory Shores neighbors, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, and church members.
His family would like to extend a special thank you to Roy Stevenson for living with and caring for Joe and Amy the past 5 years and helping them live out the end of their lives in their home to so many family members and friends. You have sacrificed so much of your time and life to making them comfortable in their final years. We also owe our gratitude to Covenant Hospice for their help in the home.
Visitation will be held at 11:00 a.m and the funeral will begin at noon on Friday, February 18, 2022 at the Community Life United Methodist Church, 4115 Soundside Drive, Gulf Breeze with graveside services with full military honors immediately after at Rose Lawn Cemetery in Gulf Breeze. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Joe’s name to Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, 300 West Leonard Street, Pensacola, FL 32501, www.pensacolahabitat.org.