Originally Published: September 10, 2017 6:03 a.m.
John Peter Stephens, passed away peacefully in Prescott on May 11, 2017. Peter was born May 18, 1928, in Berkeley, Calif. He graduated from Piedmont High School, in Piedmont, Calif.
Enlisted, late in WWII, at age 18 in the U.S. Marine Corps. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with the Class of 1952. Commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Air Force. Peter began flight training at Marana Air Base in Arizona, then completed jet pilot and multi-engine training at Williams AFB, in Chandler, Ariz. Helicopter pilot school completed at Gary AFB, San Marcos, Texas. Stationed at Seward AFB, Tenn., 314th Troop Carrier Wing, flying distant early warning line missions. Overseas tour followed at Clark AFB, in the Philippines, 13th Air Rescue Squadron.
He returned to teach at USAF Command and Staff College, in Montgomery, Alabama, followed by 3 years as Commandant of Cadets and professor for Air Force R.O.T.C., at the University of Illinois, Urbanna, Ill.
Peter became a helicopter test pilot after completing Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, in California, where he was an early Gemini Astronaut candidate.
Returned to civilian life, in 1961, working for IBM Corp., Linde Division/Union Carbide and Allied Thermal Division/Tuttle and Bailey in San Francisco.
Back to his love of flying, designing planes and flight test engineer for Boeing in Seattle, Nothrup, Ford Aerospace and McDonnell-Douglas. A distinguished career with many top awards, both in military and civilian life.
Peter was active in Rotary International, Kiwanis Club, National Exchange Club, Naval Academy alumni chapters, Boy Scouts of America, Seattle Symphony. With his wife, Chalys, the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Episcopal Marriage Encounter presenters and Hospice Partners/Wilshire volunteers, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Peter is survived by his devoted and beloved wife, Chalys, of 65 years; they married June 7, 1952 in the Naval Academy Chapel. Sons, Craig Stephens of Prescott, and Blake Stephens, Laguna Niguel, Calif.; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. His daughter, Chelsea Stephens, preceded him in death in 2006.
A direct descendant of Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton Stephens and Jim Bowie, Peter totally committed his life to love of Chalys, family, his country and the military. Memorial Eucharist and Military Honors, with inurnment, September 9, 2017, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, in Prescott.
Information provided by survivors.