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



Share your memories & condolences


  • John Prokop, Friend and HHS Classmate

    We are sorry for Kathryn's great loss - our condolences to her and to the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren he loved.

    He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. The world would be a lot better place if there were more people like Bill.

  • Rick Bigelow

    Uncle Bill was a great man, a fine husband, father and grandfather. I honor his life and will always remember him fondly.

  • June Frank Tipton

    Dear Katy,
    I was sad to read of Bill's passing. He gave so much to so many at the two churches he served as Minister of Music. A number of years ago I saw you two at WCC during alumni reunion weekend. It was great to talk to you, hear all about your wonderful work, share memories of our student days, and to hear about your children! Now you two have quite a large family down through the generations! May your love for each other sustain and console you at this time. God bless you, Love, June

  • Terry Williams johnson

    Growing up in the choir with Mr. Stephenson always brings a smile to my heart. He was a wonderful musician, teacher, director, and handsome!
    So sorry for your great loss Katie and family.
    Peace and prayers.
    Terry Williams

  • Elaine Levi

    My mom (Eugenia Warner) was a frIend of the Stephensons through the music world and would be honored to know that Bill passed away on the very same day as Mom. Hopefully they have found each other and are leading the chorus of angels. I also remember going to choir camp with the Stephensons as a young child.
    Elaine Levi

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

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