Joseph William Stephenson, Jr.

May 17, 2018

Joseph William (Bill) Stephenson, Jr., 86, peacefully passed from this earth on May 17, 2018 at Novant Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, NC.  Bill was born on January 20, 1932, in Fuquay - Varina, NC, to Joseph William Stephenson Sr., and Eloise Powe Stephenson.  He was a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where in later years he received the Distinguished Alumni Award.   A US Army Veteran, Bill enjoyed his career as a Minister of Music for over 60 years at wonderful congregations at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC, and First Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Bill’s greatest professional achievement involved the many young people’s lives he touched over his career.  After retirement Bill became a resident at The Arlington in Charlotte, NC, and Lake Junaluska Methodist Assembly where he loved playing golf with his friends and going back to his farmer’s roots producing a wonderful community garden for all the Lake Junaluska neighbors to enjoy. 

In addition to his wife of 62 years, Kathryn Phillips Stephenson, whom he met while in college in NJ, Bill is survived by his son, Joseph William Stephenson III and his wife Mary; son, Phillip Evans Stephenson and his wife Angie; daughter, Bridget Stephenson Hodge; and daughter, Gretchen Stephenson; and his grandchildren, Joseph William Stephenson IV, Mary Kathryn Hanson, Juliana Dilisio, Henry Hodge, and Kai Stephenson, and by two beautiful great-grandchildren, Nora Jennifer Hanson and Gwendolyn Louise Stephenson.  Bill is also survived by two sisters, Nancy Stephenson Young and Jayne Grace Smith. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Mary Jennifer Stephenson Dilisio and brother, Oscar Powe Stephenson.  The family is comforted to know they will be there to greet him in heaven. 

A memorial service will be held on Sunday May 20th at 2 PM at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte.  The family will receive friends at the Fellowship Hall following the memorial service. 

The family would like to thank all the wonderful thoughts and prayers Bill has received over his period of illness and mostly thru his life.  The outpouring of love and support has been a testament to how Bill lived his life always serving his Lord and Savior. 

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church Music Department 501 North Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202; First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale Music Department 401 SE 15th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301; or the Lake Junaluska Assembly, 759 N Lakeshore Dr., Lake Junaluska, NC 28745.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences can be shared at



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  • Douglas Horton

    I so very sorry for your loss. May God provide you with the peace comfort and strength doing this time.

  • Rev. Bob & Pat Boggan

    To you, Katy, and to your whole family, Pat and I send our love and the strength of our resurrection faith in the hope that the consoling peace of our Lord may give you comfort and strength for this time of separation after 62 years together. I still cherish the time we worked together at First UMC in Charlotte. With your mastery of the organ, and Bill's magic with the choir, worship was exciting and uplifting. We thank you for your long years of devoted service together. We now live in Gainesville, GA, where we are near all three of our sons. We will not be able to attend the memorial service on Sunday, but we will be with you in spirit. I now have heart problems, and Pat has dementia, which makes travel and crowds of people difficult for us. Please know that you are loved and that we will celebrate our precious memories as long as we are allowed to do so.

  • John and Sandra Curtis

    Joe and all your family, we are so sorry about the loss of your loved one! All of you will be in our thoughts and prayers! God bless!!!

  • Debbie Blodgett Hearn

    My deepest sympathy to Katy and their children. Bill and Katy were in college with me and I send love to his family. Debbie Blodgett Hearn

  • Melinda "Mindy" Warren Elnaggar

    Joe, I send love and light to you and the entire family. Your father was much loved. Please take care.
    Love, Mindy

  • Melinda "Mindy" Warren Elnaggar

    Joe, I am sorry to hear about you dad's passing. He was much loved by so many and made a huge impact in people's lives. Proud that he was an alum of our beloved WCC. Please take care. Love, Mindy

  • Pier Protz

    Bill Stephenson had a huge impact on my life as a young singer at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. His love of music and his love of life and his family were an inspiration to all who knew him. I will always remember his rendition of "Old Man River". He had a beautiful Bass voice that he willingly shared with his congregations. I have very fond memories of the Youth Choir Caravans that he took us on while he was at First United Methodist. He was a very positive influence in the lives of the youth that he served. This man was larger than life to those who knew him. Rest In Peace Oh Faithful Servant. You have been loved by many. I am praying for strength for Katie and family.

  • Pat Maier

    Kathryn and Family, I remember Bill very fondly. One special memory was when he baked a candy roster pie for our fellowship group, and shared his recipe with me. What a wonderful person and wonderful music director. Thanks to him and Katie for beginning the Lake Junaluska Community Chorus.
    Pat Maier

  • Eileen Brewer

    I was so sorry to see the news of Bill Stephenson’s passing. He and my husband, Richard Brewer, were colleagues. My deepest sympathy to Katie and the family. Sincerely, Eileen Brewer

  • Thomas and Jessica Flynn

    Dear Katie;

    Tom and I are sad that Bill has passed.‘We are increasingly aware that it is inevitable that we should also go,
    but rejoice that for some of us, there are a few extra days granted us to complete our purpose.

    Our prayers are with you.
    Tom and Jessie Flynn

    To Katie Stephenson

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