Gerald Herbert Stephens, 70, of Thomasville died July 20, 2011 at Southwest Alabama Medical Center.
He graduated from Thomasville High School in 1958 and began his collegiate athletic career at Southwest Mississippi Community College where he earned All- American Honors and was later inducted into the Southwest Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. From there, his football career took him to the University of Alabama where he played on the 1961 National Championship Team under Coach Paul Bryant. He credited Coach Bryant as being a major influence in his life and career. He and his brothers were later featured in the book "Bama Under Bear, Alabama’s Family Tides.
Stephens earned his Baccalaureate, Masters, and Associate of Arts degrees from the University of Alabama. His lifelong career in education began in 1964 at Tuscaloosa High School. He then moved to Gadsden High School where he was Head Football Coach from 1965 until 1972. During this time, he earned several AHSAA Coach of the Year honors. He served as Headmaster of Grove Hill Academy for one year in 1973 before moving to Clarke County High School. After serving as Head Football Coach for four years, he began his career in administration. He held the position of principal for 14 years. His career culminated with his election to four terms as Superintendent of Education for the Clarke County School System until his retirement in 2008.
Among his career accomplishments he served on many advisory boards and committees and was chosen as Superintendent of the Year for his district several times. For his service and dedication to the citizens of Clarke County the "Gerald H. Stephens Sports Complex" in Grove Hill was named in his honor. He was a member of First Baptist Church Fulton, the A Club at the University of Alabama and the A.E.A.
Survivors include his wife, Joann Jackson Stephens, Thomasville; two sons, Gerald Brent Stephens, Pearl, Miss., Kerry Bryant (Giannina) Stephens, Birmingham, five brothers, Charles Raymond (Susan) Stephens, Jasper, Harold Bruce (Sammie) Stephens, Destin, Fla.; Larry Ernest (Sue) Stephens, Petal, Miss.; Benny Ray (Helen) Stephens, Thomasville, Billy Don (Rosalyn) Stephens, Plantersville; and three grandchildren.
The service was July 22 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Fulton with Dr. John Copeland and Rev. Michael Bedsole officiating. Burial was at Choctaw Corner Cemetery in Thomasville.
Active Pallbearers were Olen Kerby, Kerry Stephens, Brent Stephens, John Stephens, Russell Stephens, Brandon Stephens, Jacob Kerby, Clarke Kerby and Jackson Kerby.
Honorary Pallbearers were Charles Roberts, Gary Jackson Jr., Gary Jackson, Charles Stephens, Bruce Stephens, Larry Stephens, Benny Ray Stephens and Don Stephens.
Condolences may be offered at www.obryantchapelfh.com.
O’Byrant Chapel Funeral Home of Thomasville directed.