Judge William D. Stephens, age 95, of Newburgh, IN, formerly of Evansville, passed peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Saturday, October 3, 2020, at The Heart Hospital of Deaconess Gateway.
Born in Evansville on December 20, 1924, he was a member of the Central High School class of 1943. He graduated from the University of Evansville, then Evansville college in 1949, where he received his undergraduate degree. He then attended Indiana University Law School in Bloomington, Indiana, and received a Doctorate of Jurisprudence degree in 1951. He was a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, the Evansville Bar Association, and a retired member of the Florida Bar having been admitted there in 1960. Upon graduation from law school he returned to Evansville and began his practice in 1951. Judge Stephens served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Vanderburgh county, an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Evansville and as the Attorney for the Vanderburgh County Commissioners. He was appointed in 1977 by the Indiana Governor Otis Bowen as the first Judge of Vanderburgh County Juvenile Court. That office was previously held by Referees. Judge Stephens was appointed Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge by then Governor Robert Orr in 1979 when Judge Morton Newman retired. He then served and was elected in that capacity until he retired and returned to the private practice of law in 1987. After retiring from the private practice of law he began service as a Senior Judge of the Vanderburgh Superior Court having been appointed to that position by the Indiana Supreme Court.
During his legal career Judge Stephens authored several legal publications for the Indiana State Bar Association and served as Chairman of the Elder Law Committee of the Evansville Bar Association. He was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church; a past member of the original Transit Board of the City of Evansville; and, was the past President and former member of the Evansville Fire Merit Commission. He was a past member of the Exalted Ruler of the Evansville Elks Lodge 116 and former member of the Evansville country Club and Rolling Hills country Club.
Both Judge Stephens and his late wife Bonnie enjoyed boating on Barkley and Kentucky Lakes, and spending summers in Wisconsin for many years. He was an avid golfer and for many years after retirement from the bench, he spent the winters at his Florida residence, where he especially delighted in playing tennis with his Florida friends.
Judge Stephens was a veteran of WWII and served for 3 years in the U.S. Navy. His war time duty took him to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where he was a radioman on several ships.
He is survived by his daughters, Missy Bohling and her husband, Jeffrey, of Newburgh, IN, and Barbara Long and her husband, James, of Evansville, IN; grandchildren Katie Bohling of Chicago, IL, Michael Bohling and his wife, Katie of Pompano Beach, FL, Betsy Bohling Fleenor and her husband, Nathan of Evansville, IN; and three great grandchildren, Jeffrey (JT) Fleenor, Emma Lou Fleenor and Luke Bohling.
Judge Stephens is preceded in death by his parents, Garland Stephens and Ruth (Krueger) Stephens; his wife of 61 years, Bonnie (Greubel) Stephens, who passed away in 2010.
Graveside Services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at Sunset Memorial Park, 1800 St George Road, Evansville, IN, with Father Steve Lintzenich officiating.
The family would like to thank both the personal caregivers and the supportive staff at Atria Senior Living who attended to Judge Stephens in the time preceding his death.
In Lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions may be made to: Honor Flight of Southern Indiana at PO Box 8234, Evansville, IN 47716 or Vanderburgh Humane Society at 400 Millner Industrial Drive, Evansville, IN 47710.
Arrangements are being handled by BOONE FUNERAL HOME EAST CHAPEL – A Family Tradition Funeral Home, 5330 Washington Avenue, Evansville, IN.
Condolences may be made to the family online at boonefuneralhome.net
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