Irvin Robert Stephens, 90, a life-long resident of Pacific County, passed away peacefully March 1, 2023 at the family home in Raymond. He was surrounded by his children and faithful corgi, Gunny.
Irv was born August 13, 1932 in Willapa to Robert (Blackie) and Ruth Olsen Stephens. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 43 years, Louise Kelley Stephens, their infant son, Donald Wayne, and loving companion of 23 years, Marion Salme. He was also preceded in death by granddaughter Lily Stephens (Doug and Lisa), sisters Deannie Stephens, Carrie Cummings and William Villanueva, granddaughter Stacey’s husband.
Irv, Deannie, Carrie, Roy, and Trudy were raised in Firdale at the Stephens family home. He often reminisced of life on the old homestead which was void of electricity, inside plumbing, and hot running water. His mother’s delicious meals on the wood stove, which he and brother Roy kept stocked with wood was a favorite memory towards the end of his life. He attended Willapa Valley Schools lettering in football, basketball, and track. In 1949, at age 17 with his mother’s written permission, Irv joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve. In June, 1950 he was deployed to Korea for combat duty under the command of Col. Lewis (Chesty) Puller becoming part of How Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. In November of that year, during the Battle at Chosin Reservoir, one of the most brutal battles of the Korean War, he was wounded. Irv loved the Marine Corps, was a proud member of the “Chosin Few” and a Purple Heart recipient.
On June 4, 1953, with Ralph and Wanda Stark in attendance, Irv married Louise Marie Kelley of Raymond. Irv and Louise had 4 children: Donald Wayne, Scott Duane, Karla Diane, and Douglas Irvin. They had a true partnership; Irv worked hard in the woods and Louise worked hard at home to provide their family an exceptional life. Irv supported his family via the logging industry starting his own company, Stephens Logging, which he ran until his retirement in 1996.
Irv was an adventurer and loved to hunt, fish, and travel. He hunted grizzly bear in Alaska, fished the Kenai River with sons Scott and Doug, hunted in Montana, partnered with lifelong friend Don Murdock to build a hunting cabin in Canada, went on Safari in Africa, toured Israel with daughter Karla, visited Mexico many times, and toured all 50 states in the motorhome. He was always on the go! A favorite travel experience of Irv’s was taking the Freedom Flight to Washington DC where along with many other Veterans he toured each military memorial, especially enjoying the Korean War Memorial.
Irv was a member of the VFW, Willapa Valley Booster Club, Raymond Elks, and the Marine Corps League. He was a 32nd Degree Mason as well as a member of The Chosin Few. He, and a group of friends organized the Wall of Honor at Willapa Valley High School: a memorial to Vikings that served their country. He leaves behind three children; Scott Stephens (Norma), Karla Stephens Webber (Jamie), Doug Stephens (Lisa), 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, brother Roy Stephens, and a sister Trudy Heggem. He is also survived by Marion’s son Gary Salme, who contributed a great deal to Irv’s life.
A memorial service will take place May 6 at 11:00 a.m. at Fern Hill Cemetery in Menlo. A luncheon will follow at the Willapa United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family wishes memorial contributions go to help maintain the Wall of Honor at Willapa Valley High School. Contributions can be mailed to Karla Webber: ICO Willapa Valley Booster Club, PO Box 1141 South Bend, WA 98586.