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ADA, Okla. – East Central University is set to recognize the W.W. and Lelia Reid (Billie) Stephenson family at ECU’s Evening of Honors and Recognition, May 10 at 6 p.m., in the ECU Foundation Hall, located inside the Chickasaw Business & Conference Center.

W. W. and Billie Stephenson were longtime residents of Ada, OK. W.W. grew up in Atwood.  He was the sixth of nine children, the son of a peanut and pig farmer.  Billie grew up in Allen and was the youngest of four children of the local doctor. 

W.W. and Billie had four children, Gene, Suella, Dickie and Jon. They also had eleven grandchildren Dr. Amy Stephenson Patterson, Thomas Stephenson, Michele Mayes Webel, Stephen Mayes, Casey Stephenson Hunter, Shawn Stephenson, Jamie Lowry, Christy Stephenson Livermore, Angie Stephenson Crawford, Ashley Stephenson Harward and Jon W. Stephenson, Jr. 

The couple stressed education to their family. Gene still remembers the punishment he received when he brought home his first “C”. W.W. and Billie insisted that their children go to college. Of the fifteen family members, there are two Ph.D.’s, one J.D., seven master’s degrees (two of which are CPAs) and five bachelor’s degrees. If the spouses of the family are included, there is also one A.B.D. (All But Dissertation), five master’s and six bachelor’s degrees.

“Jon Stephenson and I were in the freshman honors program at ECU,” said ECU Distinguished Alumni, Duane Murray. “Later his brother Gene taught me Modern Algebra. I coached against Dickey in little league baseball. All our children grew up together. I have so many great memories of this wonderful family and am so thankful for a lifetime of friendship.”

Gene and his wife, Lynda, were fixtures on the ECU faculty and administration for 25 years.  Gene was a member of the Mathematics Department and Vice-President of Academic Affairs for 10 years. Lynda taught English and started new classes in Humanities and Film Appreciation. In 1990, Gene retired from ECU and became the President of the University of the Ozarks. As the Ozarks First Lady, Lynda supervised the decoration of five new buildings on campus.

Suella and her husband, Wayne Mayes, met at ECU. After graduating, they moved to New Mexico where she worked as a medical technologist and Wayne served as the State Supervisor of Office and Business Education for the State of New Mexico. They later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where she was a Public-School Librarian, and he was Vice-President of Southwestern Publishing.

Dickie graduated from ECU with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and became a public-school teacher. He was head football coach at both Ada High School and Ada Junior High School and later became manager of the W.W. Stephenson Petroleum Corporation. Dickie has since passed away, along with his first wife, Kathy Kirkhoff Stephenson, and second wife, Nema Etier Stephenson.

The youngest sibling, Jon, graduated from ECU with a degree in Mathematics. While an undergraduate, Jon met and married Cheryl Martin. Cheryl was a member of the choir, and she won first place in Tiger Tangles as a student. Jon was a quarterback on the Tigers Football Team. After receiving his master’s degree at OSU, Jon returned to ECU as an Instructor in the Accounting Department. He later helped form the accounting firm of Lamb, Stephenson, Buxton, and Davidson.  He became President of Home Federal Savings and Loan of Ada and eventually Executive Vice-President of Commercial Federal Bank in Omaha, NE. Jon also served as President of the ECU Alumni Association.

To purchase tickets for ECU Evening of Honors and Recognition, visit or contact the Office of Alumni Relations at or at 580-559-5724. Advanced tickets are recommended.

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