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Dr,John Stephens ...
 

John Stephens was a trusted friend, a teacher, a guide and a therapist.  His death was a tragic loss to many people.


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Dr,John Stephens

 

  John Stephens, child psychiatrist
  By Thaai Walker / Mercury News
If you were a troubled teen and John R. Stephens was your doctor, your visits to him wouldn't necessarily take place in some boring office. You might find yourself heading out with him for a burger, or to the mall or even to a bowling alley.
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 (Mercury News)  
John Stephens, child psychiatrist
MUCH OF HIS PRACTICE WAS DONE IN SAN JOSE

Mercury News

If you were a troubled teen and John R. Stephens was your doctor, your visits to him wouldn't necessarily take place in some boring office. You might find yourself heading out with him for a burger, or to the mall or even to a bowling alley.

When it came to his patients, the affable child psychiatrist believed in going a bit beyond what was required of him.

Dr. Stephens, doctor to scores of youngsters who needed someone to help them sort through their struggles, died July 20 at Stanford after a brief battle with cancer. He was 59.

He was a big man with a big laugh who loved languages, crossword puzzles and games of all sorts. He was the guy you'd want as your ``lifeline'' if you ever found yourself on ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,'' his wife said.

Dr. Stephens started his child and adolescent psychiatry practice in Palo Alto, where he lived with his family for nearly 40 years. But much of his work was done in San Jose. He worked extensively with teen group homes and most recently was associated with the Pacific Biobehavioral Group in San Jose.

He never wore a tie to the office and instead preferred colorful sports shirts. Prematurely gray by his 20s, his hair was totally white by his 40s and so his young patients often thought, upon first glance, that he was really old.

But they soon realized how different he was from most adults, said Dr. Allan Sidle, one of Dr. Stephens' closest friends. He would get youngsters to open up by showing them he was genuinely interested in everything about them.

He'd get right down on the floor and sit alongside his youngest patients to talk to them. If his teenage patients asked him to attend a track meet or a football game, he would go.

He'd keep up with the music they listened to -- hip-hop, grunge, heavy metal. He'd even go to concerts for an up-close look at what his young patients were excited about.

And very often, after his patients had grown up and the regular appointments were long over, Dr. Stephens would receive an invitation to a graduation or a wedding.

``A lot of therapists would say, `No, I'm glad you're getting married but I don't make it a practice to do that,' '' Sidle said. But not Dr. Stephens.

``He really wanted to validate that and share that with them -- how far they had come in overcoming.''

His childhood in Detroit had been far different from his patients', idyllic even, with afternoons spent at Boy Scout meetings and summers spent water skiing on a lake.

He attended the University of Michigan and later transferred to Stanford University. It was there that he met Stephanie Alexander, a nursing student.

She first laid eyes on him at a party for medical school students. He was tall and thin and cute, she thought. It wasn't until two parties later that she managed to work up her courage and approach him.

He invited her to lunch the very next day. On their second date he sang ``Autumn Leaves'' to her in French. Two years later they married.

``I was crazy about him,'' Stephanie Stephens said of her husband of 37 years. ``I knew from Day One this is the type of guy you marry.''

His career took them to Washington, D.C., back to California, over to Europe and then finally back to Palo Alto. This fall, he and his wife were planning a trip to France. He had just renewed his passport when he became ill.

``I was so glad we got married as students and that he lived to see four grandchildren,'' his wife said. ``We were just hoping to have more good years ahead.''

Dr. John R. Stephens

Born: March 13, 1944

Died: July 20, 2003

Survived by: His wife, Stephanie; son, Gregory of Sacramento; daughter, Cynthia Wilde of Redwood City; brother, Gary, and sister, Barbara Bell, both of Michigan; and four grandchildren.

Services: Services will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, 950 Santa Cruz Ave.

Memorial: Contributions to the American Cancer Society or a favorite charity are preferred.


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