Peter Stephens, of Niles
Peter Lester Stephens, 59, veteran, carpenter, outdoorsman and devoted son, died unexpectedly at the family home in the solitude that suited him best.
He was born on May 10, 1960, to James Lewis and Shirley Joan (Dutton) Stephens in San Diego, California, where the U.S. Navy had his father stationed. The family returned to Niles in 1968, and Peter graduated from Niles High School. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving a four-year tour of duty during peacetime. He returned to Niles and, as a skilled machinist, was employed in several area shops including Niles Precision Company, Inc.
Peter was also a skilled craftsman with a creative mind and a desire to build. He made good use of the home woodshop to build furniture and toys, and he combined his machinist and woodworking skills to create scale model, fully functional radio-controlled airplanes. Those complementary skills were also valuable to assist his father with their homebuilt 30-foot sailboat which they launched in 1993 on Lake Michigan.
He enjoyed history, often watching documentaries on the History Channel and studying about World War II. His quiet times often found him fishing — usually at Big Smith Lake, canoeing or stoking a campfire from his lawn chair next to the backyard firepit.
His greatest interest was his family. He loved his nieces and nephews, and he chose to live at home to help his mother provide homecare during his father’s final illness, and then to provide homecare for his mother during her final illness. All three of them were able to live-out their final days in the comfort of the old farmhouse that had been passed-down through many generations of the Mark family.
Pete’s dad, Jim, died on Veteran’s Day, 1999, and his mom, Shirley, died on June 26, 2012. He was also preceded in death by a brother, Mark Stephens, in 2011; a sister, Patricia Cushman, in 2012; and a sister-in-law, Carol (Mrs. Thomas) Stephens.
Surviving family includes his brothers, Michael (Terri) Stephens, of Whitehall, Michigan, Thomas Stephens, of Northfield Vermont, Willard (Colleen) Stephens, of Walker, Michigan, and Cy (Tammy) Perkins, of Rockford, Michigan; a brother-in-law, Bruce Cushman, of Rathdrum, Idaho; and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
The memorial service for Peter Stephens will be at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 E. Main St. in Niles with the Rev. Michael T. Smith of Niles officiating. Committal will follow at Mission Hills.
Contributions in memory of Peter may be made to the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan Yeager Family Pet Shelter, 5400 S. Niles Road, Saint Joseph, Michigan, 49085; humanesocietyswm.org. Online condolences may be left at: halbritterwickens.com.
Peter had the innate ability to look at a piece of metal or a block of wood and know what useful object might be inside and had the skill to get it out. While he was a quiet man who spent a lot of time at home, he always had a smile for everyone and will be missed by those who really knew him.