Floyd Bryce “Steve” Stephenson passed away peacefully on March 15, 2021 in his long adopted hometown of Sonoma with his family near his side. He lived a long rich life, a friend and mentor to many.
Floyd was born on July 29, 1927 in Hayden Lake, ID to his Father Floyd Brown Stephenson and Mother Dicie Stephenson. He lived on the family farm just north of Hayden Lake at a place called the “Rimrock”, with his parents and younger brother Neil. He went to and graduated from Rathdrum High School at the young age of 16.
Floyd always wanted to fly and enlisted in the Army when he was of eligible age. On leave he suffered a gunshot wound to one of his legs during a deer hunting outing and was forced to leave the Army on a medical discharge. Floyd promptly enrolled into an ROTC program with the U.S. Navy and went to college, with short stints at University of Idaho, University of Utah, and Stanford University. The Korean War was on the horizon and that is when Floyd got the call to enter Navy flight training and ordered to report to Pensacola, FL. Floyd excelled at his chosen craft he loved. Floyd was sent to serve at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. It is during his training there that he met his first wife, Margaret Ann Pinnell on a blind date. Floyd and Margaret Ann were married on December 9, 1951. Shortly after Floyd was off to war with Squadron VF-114 flying the F4u Corsair. He flew many missions off of an Aircraft Carrier in support of ground troops. Floyd, as an Ensign, earned the “Distinguished Flying Cross” for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight mission, in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on April 11, 1952.
Floyd continued to serve in the Naval Reserves, based out of Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in Orange County California. Floyd eventually earned the rank of Lieutenant Commander, while remaining proficient in flying fighter jets such as the F-9 Cougar as well as the A-4 Skyhawk. Floyd retired from the Reserve in 1966. As a Naval reserve this freed up Floyd to apply for a job and landing what became a career with United Airlines in 1955, flying copilot on the DC-3 and the Convair. Floyd flew for United for 32 years retiring as a senior Captain in 1987, flying numerous Boeing and Douglas aircraft types, finishing up on the DC-10.
Floyd and Margaret Ann welcomed their first child, which at last second, turned out to be identical twins, Brian and Bruce in April of 1956. Their daughter Margaret Bryce “Maggie”, was born in September of 1959. Floyd and Margaret Ann were living the American Dream in West Covina CA, a suburb of Los Angeles, as Floyd’s United Domicile was LAX. Floyd received his first captains bid in Detroit, MI, in fall of 1965. So the family moved from the LA area to a little burg called Chelsea, MI just west of Ann Arbor. The family barely had time to put down roots when United Airlines decided to close their Detroit domicile in 1968.
Floyd chose United’s domicile at SFO and moved his family to Sonoma Valley in October of 1968. It is here Floyd put down roots for good. After renting a couple of places for a year or so, Floyd and family purchased the old Wyatt Dairy Farm, or what was left of it at end of Wyatt Road in Sonoma. Floyd and Margaret Ann raised their kids here, turning the old Dairy into a horse ranch, originally called Arrowhead Ranch. Floyd got into horse racing, as a hobby, and a tax shelter in 1970, but fell in love with the horses and the sport and stayed in the business for a good 10 years. He also had time to teach his three children the joy of flying and purchased a 1959 Cessna 310 in the mid 70’s. Floyd also became a member of the Sonoma Valley community, joining the Sonoma Valley Kiwanis in the early 70’s, eventually becoming President of the Club in the mid 80’s. Floyd was known for his dry wit, and writing skills, many times called on to hilariously roast an outgoing President. Floyd also was a member of the Elks Club and was a member of the SIRS. Floyd and his Arrowhead Ranch, also was the first sponsor and originator of the Sonoma Valley Babe Ruth Team, named the “Stallions” in summer of 1971.
Floyds wife Margaret Ann passed away of cancer in 1989. Devastated for a short time, he was fortunate enough to marry Shirley Haver and they shared 31 wonderful years together. Floyd and Shirley spent the first part of their marriage caring for the Ranch and traveling the globe, often with Airline or Navy buddies he’d known and befriended for most of his life. Eventually the ranch became too much and they sold it in 2000, and retired to a nice home in Sonoma Greens where they entertained close friends and family and shared their passion of Oakland A’s baseball and Gonzaga Bulldogs Basketball.
Floyd was preceded in death by first wife Margaret Ann Stephenson, daughter Margaret Bryce “Maggie” Stephenson (Askim), and brother Neil Stephenson. Floyd is survived by wife Shirley Haver Stephenson, children Brian Stephenson (Jenni Beals), Bruce Stephenson (Susan Rachuy), Randy Cope, Mark Cope (Lori Seat) , Denise Cope Theobald (Ken Theobald) and Sharna Haver. Floyd is also survived by thirteen grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Dad had a great life and his legacy will certainly live on.----BKS and BJS
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