Philip James Stephenson, loved music

Philip James Stephenson, 80, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at his home in Rehoboth Beach, after a brief battle with cancer. Philip was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., Aug. 21, 1943. He was the first child of the late Rev. Paul Barkley Stephenson and Ernestine Lucille (Pask) Stephenson.

As a Methodist preacher’s kid, he grew up in various Indiana towns: Hamilton, Richmond, Winchester, Noblesville, and Fort Wayne. Phil graduated from Noblesville High School in 1961. After graduating from DePauw University in 1965, Phil served in the Peace Corps for two years in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where he taught music at a local university. After returning to the States, he taught at the Jay County School Corporation for two years. Next, he moved to Bloomington for additional studies at Indiana University’s School of Music, where he received an additional bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in choral conducting. In 1975, he moved with his growing family to Lima, Peru, where he served one year as the director of Indiana University’s Overseas Program. For the following two years, he taught as a high school music teacher at the American School of Lima. In 1978, Phil and his family returned to the U.S., where he began a second career in the business world, joining SAMPCO Inc. in Chicago and working there until his retirement in 2012. During his many years in Chicago, Phil continued with his love of music by adding his tenor voice to the Holy Name Cathedral Singers under the direction of Richard Proulx. He also served as cantor at several churches in the Chicago area.

Phil enjoyed his retirement years in Rehoboth Beach and was active with a group of retired Peace Corps Volunteers and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He enjoyed working on many jigsaw puzzles, which he never took apart. After completing each puzzle, they were beautifully framed to show his achievements. He also enjoyed the beautiful forest that graced his backyard and the abundant birds and other wildlife of Delaware.

Phil is survived by his wife of 38 years, Gerardine “Gerri” Stephenson; his children, Peter Norio Stephenson (fiancée Elena Arrington) of Rolling Meadows, Ill., Michelle Kei Taylor (husband Robert Taylor) of Algonquin, Ill., and Michael Yoshio Stephenson (wife Christine Whelan Stephenson) of Huntley, Ill. Phil was also blessed with seven grandchildren, Noah, Ashley, Nicholas, Taylor, Aiden, Maddox and Jackson; and one great-grandchild, Spencer. He is also survived by his brother, Paul Bruce Stephenson (wife Maria Schmidt) of Bloomington, Ind.; his sister, Claire Ann Smith (husband Gary Smith) of Portland, Ind.; and two nieces, Greta Stephenson of Hermantown, Minn., and Marta Stephenson of Bloomington. Phil was preceded in death by his parents; and his sister, Jean Ann Maxwell and her husband Frank.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Phil’s name can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association,

Visit Phil’s Life Memorial webpage at


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