John and Evelyn Stephens have lived in Corvallis since 1977 and have been married to each other for more than sixty years. John and Evelyn were both students at Washington State University in 1948 where they first met at a dancing class. That first meeting, however, did not foretell the long marriage John & Evelyn have enjoyed. John’s friend, Jim Putnam, was also a student of that dancing class and it was Jim who first captured Evelyn’s heart. Jim and Evelyn married in June 1950. In 1951, three weeks after Evelyn and Jim’s son Kenneth was born, Jim was killed in combat in the Korean War. Evelyn and John had stayed in touch through Jim. In 1952, Evelyn returned to Washington State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in social studies, and she and John were married 1953. Their daughters Lynn and Joanne were born in 1954 and 1958 respectively, and their son John “Steve” was born in 1960.
In 1977, John, who had received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from WSU in 1951, earned his master’s degree and was licensed as a professional engineer. He then accepted a position at the Oregon State University physical plant, and the couple relocated to Corvallis, Oregon. After retirement in 1992, John continued working as a consulting engineer for local contractors. Evelyn worked as a test examiner for the federal government for 10 years. John retired in 1992 after 15 years at State University in facilities services.
John and Evelyn Stephens established their ROTC Endowed Scholarship Fund in honor of their many loved ones who served in the military:
- John William Stephens, John’s father, was a motorcycle messenger in WWI. Although John’s father survived the war, he was exposed to mustard gas. John believes that the exposure ultimately caused his father’s early death at 59, as all of John’s uncles lived into their nineties.
- Frederick Stephens, John’s uncle, was a pilot with Pan Am when he was commissioned into the Army Air Corps as a Captain following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Frederick flew over the South Pacific with Brigadier General Claire Lee Chennault, formerly commander of the Flying Tigers.
- John Stephens. John himself served in WWII as a Staff Sargent in the Army. He originally trained as a scout, but upon re-enlisting after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to the medical corps in Panama.
- Jessie E. Stephens, John & Evelyn’s granddaughter, served in Iraq with the National Guard.
- David Monroe Branch, Sr., Evelyn’s father, served in the Army.
- David Monroe Branch, Jr., Evelyn’s oldest brother, served in the Army.
- Glen Maurice Branch, Evelyn’s youngest brother, served as a Green Beret and Paratrooper. Glen, fluent in Russian, also served as an interpreter.
- Jim Putnam, Evelyn’s first husband and John’s good friend, served as an Army Platoon Sargent and was killed in combat in the Korean War in 1951.