Leland Moore Stevens, 90, of Taylor, joined his beloved Jean and Heavenly Father on Monday, January 10, 2022.
Only Jean has called this 6ft 2in second son “my favorite boyfriend” for 68 years. The rest of the family affectionately called him Papa, Leland, Papa, Grandpa, Grandpa, “Unclee” or Uncle Leland.
Filled with integrity, he provided his children with a good foundation – he was upright, trustworthy, fair and compassionate. Taylor Daily Press aptly titled a 2009 front-page article about him “A die-hard fan”, saying that “Leland Stevens attends more youth sporting events than the average Taylor, simply because he is interested in seeing children become responsible and contributing citizens.”
Indeed, he was a responsible citizen and contributor. Since his death from COVID-19 pneumonia, the family has heard many people call him friend, best accountant, my best supervisor, “my go-to guy on the dishes” or a great volunteer “who always had a word. nice to say.”
The driver of a white truck honking to the beat of “hullaballoo caneck caneck” outside the Stevens’ home cheerfully reminds the family of the Spirit of Aggieland, which Leland cherished.
Community service, family, nature, fairness, truth, worship, accessibility to positive childhood experiences, and education in public colleges were important to Leland. He relied on silent prayer and appreciated the dedication of coaches, pastors, music directors and teachers. He conscientiously fulfilled his duties, roles and responsibilities.
He was dependable, intelligent and had superb organizational skills. He chose his words concisely – whether spoken extemporaneously, prepared for services at the First United Methodist Church of Taylor, for meetings of the City of Taylor’s Planning and Zoning Board, or written as humorous lyrics to sing at the weekly Taylor Lions Club meetings. He appreciated clever wit but not cruel humor.
He critically examined the details of important issues, elevating crucial facts, brushing aside irrelevance, and sharing the reasons for each. Sometimes he spoke laconically and showed fierce independence, but simple kindnesses, beautiful music, compassionate stories and Aggie Muster moved him to tears.
Leland was born on December 20, 1931, in Fort Worth to Wesley Stevens and Leila Moore Stevens who nurtured his interests in horses, livestock, the outdoors, reading, history, athletics, and music. They encouraged him to learn more about God by getting involved in the Methodist church.
He graduated in 1949 from Stephen F. Austin High School in Bryan. Leland sang bass in his award-winning acapella choir and learned to play trumpet and piano. He also played baseball, football and basketball and ran on the track. In taverns just beyond the city limits, he and his friends enjoyed social dancing to Polish polkas.
Growing up in Texas, Leland and his brother, Wesley MacClelland Stevens, fondly remember accompanying their father, a federal employee, on some summer business trips to check on recipients of federal grants — issued for the purpose of build rainwater holding tanks in Texas – used them to do such work. The two young men saw first hand that some of the tanks didn’t even exist and learned that some elected officials and contractors had conspired and hijacked.
Unfortunately, some resulting lawsuits never went to trial due to changes in political leadership. Once Leland came of age, he voted.
This student-athlete attended Wharton County Junior College for a year where he played linebacker and Phi Theta Kappa elected him to its honor society. Then the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University) offered Leland an athletic scholarship. He was transferred there but refused the scholarship. In the cadet corps, he was in the Eighth Regiment the first year, Technical Sergeant in Coast Artillery Company “A” as a junior, and Lieutenant in the First Regiment as a senior.
A mutual connection introduced Leland to Lois Jean Clark at an Aggie Shout practice in 1951, and her brother married the two on August 29, 1953, at the Presbyterian Church in WaKeeney, Kansas. Earlier that summer, he wrote a box of letters to his fiancée and was named “Top Cadet in E Battery” at Fort Bliss ROTC Camp in El Paso.
In 1954, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, became a certified public accountant (CPA) after passing all four parts of the CPA exam in his first and only sitting, and was commissioned as a reserve officer as second lieutenant in the United States Army.
The Army promoted Leland to first lieutenant (1955 to 1957) in the 519th AAA Battalion while he was stationed at Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Richland, Washington.
At the wedding came four children: Beth, Bill, Jeanette and Lee. Leland was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather whose success in the accounting profession provided the family with comfortable homes in welcoming communities and, once the children grew into adults, a farm. bovine to Marion.
His accounting career began in the Houston office of Price Waterhouse, the accounting firm where he worked for a dozen years in positions of increasing responsibility within its audit division. Leland moved into controller roles at shareholder-owned and privately held companies, including Digital Resources, Western Geophysical and Digicon, where he served as vice president of finance and treasurer, all in Houston. He worked with William T. Burton Industries in Sulfur, Louisiana for four years, where he also served as president of the Sulfur Rotary Club. He returned to Texas to work at Groves Alexander, a branch of the King Ranch family in San Antonio. Eventually he sold the farm and resigned from Groves Alexander to acquire an accounting firm – first called Stevens & Company, CPAs, then Leland M. Stevens, CPA – in Taylor, where he and Jean elected home for 35 years. The firm handled tax preparation, planning, audits, business and financial advice, accounting and bookkeeping. Always grateful to his clients and friends, he sold the business in 2017.
In retirement, Leland did his best to “keep up with Jean!” and always dedicated time and accounting knowledge to the betterment of the community. His esteemed pastor, Reverend Sela Finau, said Leland has served his church in every leadership role and on every committee that needed him over the decades, including as chairman of the FUMC trustees. The church awarded Leland and Jean the 2018 Midge Uzzel Mission Award “for service to the church and community.” Named Lion of the Year in 1991 and 2013, he spent 35 years with the Taylor Lions Club in positions ranging from singing leader to president. He loved Texas Lions Camp and was treasurer of the Texas Lions Eye Bank. He served for 27 years on the City of Taylor’s Planning and Zoning Board (many of them as vice-chairman) and an earlier version of it. He was a board member of the Greater Taylor Chamber of Commerce for years. He also served as Treasurer of Temple College of the Taylor Foundation and was happy to see the success of students at Legacy Early College High School and Taylor High School. His passion for watchmaking
His passion for watching Taylor High School sports (football, basketball, volleyball, and especially baseball) and his fondness for singing in the church choir and attending Bible study and school Sundays never faded, even when he could no longer attend. Aggie football, the Houston Astros and women’s college volleyball and softball were also favorites.
An outdoorsman at heart, Leland enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, water skiing, boating, flying, reading, visiting relatives, attending the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, and telling stories. Listeners could feel the anticipation and excitement, for example, of his childhood visits to St. Mary’s Creek in County Tarrant where he and a cousin raced their grandmother’s wheelchairs from her living room farmhouse on wooden ramps in front and back. Like Jean, he enjoyed family gatherings, Christmas carols, visual arts, folk music, cultural festivals and musical performances. He recently claimed to the children that it was Jean who paid for his precious grand piano entirely with his piano teaching earnings.
Leland’s beloved wife, parents, in-laws, William Clarence Clark and Myrtle Aileen Dwyer Clark, siblings-in-law, Robert H. and B. Beth Clark Galloway, and nephew, Michael J. Galloway preceded him in death.
Leland will be dearly missed by the family and his welcoming handshake or hug, twinkling blue eyes, enthusiastic smile, “Be Careful” goodbye and wave goodbye while standing outside the house with John until he is out of sight.
He is survived by his children, Beth Ann Stevens Locke, of New Mexico, William Wesley Stevens, Jeanette Stevens Zey and her husband, Richard Bennett Zey, Leland Clark Stevens and his wife, Diana Reynolds Stevens, all of Texas; grandchildren, Leila Aileen Locke, Sarah Beth Locke Castor and husband, Aaron Lynn Castor, Airth Rebecca Locke McCourt and husband, Michael Cole McCourt, Leland Robert Locke and wife, Veronica Castillo, Kathryn Jean Hylander and husband, Spencer Allen Hylander, Justus Clark Stevens and Colton Reynolds Stevens; great-grandchildren, Michael Craig Davis, William Lynn Castor, Leland Wayne Castor, Benjamin Clark Castor, Lynex Orion Locke Leland Robert Locke, Jr., Charli Jean Locke, Kinsley Jean Hylander, Kase Allen Hylander and Duke Bennett Hylander; Brother Wesley with his wife, Virginia Winter Stevens, of Winnipeg; and nieces, nephews and cousins.
Leland told us to send him to Peter Lutkin’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” the closing song for his high school choir concerts.
Leland’s memorial service will be held Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church (www.fumcTaylor.org), 907 W. Lake Drive in Taylor.
A public funeral service will immediately follow at Taylor’s Town Cemetery, 1104 East Fourth Street, followed by a reception at the church. For those who wish, memorials can be sent to the church, Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, or your favorite charity.