On Friday, July 18 2008 Stephen A. Stephens died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in Fort Worth, Texas. He was born on November 26, 1953 in Kenton, Ohio to Ollie R. and Dorothy M. (Ratcliff) Stephens. He is survived by his brother Donald Stephens of Patterson and a sister, Sue (David) Price of Ridgeway, three nephews, Donald "D. Ray" Stephens, Joshua Stephens and Billy Price and a niece, Bailey Price.
Stephen was a 1973 graduate of Riverdale High School and a 1978 graduate of Spartan School of Aeronautics. He worked for American Airlines at Dallas Fort Worth Airport as a licensed A&P Aircraft Maintenance Technician.
Stephen A. Stephens was a professional, skilled AMT. But he was also a friend to many of his coworkers. Those who met him felt that he was truly a good man. He was quick to make you laugh.
Stephen's untimely passing was a loss to his friends and to our profession. Stephen touched everyone he met with a special kind of friendship. One that came easy and natural.
On Wednesday, July 23 2008 Stephen's body was shipped back to Columbus, Ohio for burial. But because of the special man that Stephen was he did not leave the DFW Airport alone. He was "escorted" by friends and co-workers in a tribute that was both emotional and earned.
As Stephen's body was loaded into the middle cargo compartment of an MD-80 he was surrounded by several hundred people. After the cargo compartment door was closed and the aircraft was ready to depart all those present formed two separate lines that ran along side both sides of the fuselage.
Normally an aircraft is pushed off the gate by a Ramp Service Employee but because of the meaning of this particular flight the tractor that pushed the aircraft off the gate was driven by Stephen's friend Rick Ramos and assisted by his fellow AMTs that he worked with on a daily basis.
The brakes were released and the aircraft pushed back. The two lines of Stephen's friends and co-workers walked along the wing tips as ceremonial wing walkers. Once the aircraft was in position the brakes were applied and the tow bar disconnected. As this was happening the two lines of people stretched out and formed a corridor which the aircraft taxied past towards the taxi way. As the aircraft taxied past the Captain opened his window and waved to those "escorting" Stephen on the ramp and passengers waved out their windows.
As the aircraft neared the taxiway it was met by two DFW Airport fire trucks that gave a water cannon salute to Stephen that was both fitting and emotional. The two streams of water arcing over the aircraft fuselage as it taxied under it glistened with the early morning sunlight.
Stephen A. Stephen will be remembered by his friends, fellow AMTs and co-workers.