AJ “Steve” Stephens passed away from natural causes on Nov. 19, 2013.
AJ was born on April 4, 1920, in Harmon County, Okla., hear Hollis. He was the oldest of nine children born to Ernest and Elizabeth Jane Stephens. He graduated from a rural school and attended Oklahoma A&M College at Stillwater for two years until World War II, when he enlisted in the Air Force and spent four years in service with an anti-submarine group in North Africa.
On March 12, 1944, he married Lena Mae Haley. At the end of the war, he and Lena moved back to A&M at Stillwater. He graduated in June 1950. His first job was with Exploration Service, a seismic company, as an observer doing oil exploration on the Wagner Ranch, a 530,000 acre ranch near Vernon, Texas. In 1952, the company moved to Miles City, and so did Lena and AJ. The company went bankrupt shortly after and, to support his family, he started a lifelong career in the insurance business with Mutual of New York in 1954.
AJ was the father of three girls, “The Stephens Sisters,” Vicka (1952), Madeleine (1954) and Ramona (1957). He worked as an insurance agent for 55 years, helping people all over rural Eastern Montana, only retiring at age 85 because his family forced him to. He especially enjoyed fishing and playing the piano. At age 8 he won his first piano contest. He always loved performing with family and friends, and even played in New York City at the Hilton. He and Lena moved to Billings in 1998.
AJ is survived by his wife, Lena; his daughters, Vicka Lanier (Hal), Madeleine Ross (Doug) and Ramona Kurkowski (Joe); granddaughters Alexa Henry (Mike) and Tara Kurkowski; and four brothers.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. A private interment will be held in Mountview Cemetery.