Linda Delaplain Stephens
Linda Delaplain Stephens, age 87, was born May 6, 1932, in Seminole and passed peacefully from this life to her celestial home on Sept. 13, 2019, with her loving family gathered around her.
She was the sixth of seven children born to James Lisle Delaplain and Zuleme Gragson Delaplain.
In 1935, Linda and family moved to Harden City, Pontotoc County, where her father worked for Carter Oil Co., now Exxon Corp., and raised top-quality Angus cattle. Linda and all the children helped out at the ranch both after school and during summers, where their parents taught them the value of dedicated effort and perseverance.
Her McLish High School girls basketball team placed second in the 1948 Oklahoma state championship game and won the state championship in 1949. That was before the creation of classification categories by school enrollment, when small and large schools competed equally for the state prize.
Linda and her sister, Dorothy, were inducted in the Oklahoma High School Girls Basketball Hall of Fame, as was their coach. This was a marvelous achievement for a small, rural high school that competed with all high schools in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and throughout the state of Oklahoma. Discipline, training, great coaching and a will to do their best made the McLish Oilers team true champions and difficult to overcome.
Linda attended the University of Oklahoma, where she received a bachelor of science degree in home economics in 1954. During her senior year she met the love of her life, Ray Stephens, also a senior student at OU.
The college sweethearts became engaged in June 1954 and were married Nov. 28, 1954, at the Fittstown (Oklahoma) Methodist Church, which led to almost 65 years of wedded bliss.
Ray had been inducted into the U.S. Army a few months earlier and when he received a permanent assignment at Fort McClellan, Anniston, Alabama, in February 1955, Linda postponed graduate degree work and joined Ray in Anniston.
They became a part of that community through service in the Anniston First Methodist Church, where they sang in the church choir, became an integral part of the Couples Sunday School class and assisted with the Methodist Youth Fellowship.
Linda taught fourth grade in an Anniston public school until Ray was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1956. They returned to Norman, where both pursued a master's degree at the University of Oklahoma, graduating in 1957, and then moved to Austin, Texas, where Ray became a doctoral student in history at the University of Texas.
Linda taught at Summit Elementary School in Austin until Ray received his Ph.D. degree in 1962.
In the summer of 1960, Linda and Ray traveled by motor coach for two months through most countries of Western Europe with a University of Texas student group, sponsored by the International Students Association. Their crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a reconverted World War II Liberty Ship was memorable when a huge storm churned the water and hit their passenger ship with 30-foot waves that bounced the hull up and down like a cork in a mountain stream. The rest of the Grand Tour went exceedingly well.
Linda taught two years at an elementary school in Bryan after Ray joined the history faculty at Texas A&M University in 1962. Their son, David, was born in Bryan in 1964 during their last year at TAMU.
Linda and family resided in London, England, during the summer of 1965 while Ray did research in the British Public Record Office. Linda and infant David picnicked regularly on the grounds of nearby Windsor Castle.
Upon return to the U.S., they moved to Denton when Ray served as professor of history at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas). She insisted on being a stay-at-home mom for son David and daughter, Ann, who was born in 1969.
After the children had grown to school age, Linda served as a teacher at Eva Hodge Elementary School and Newton Rayzor Elementary School until she retired in 1996.
Linda served with the NTSU Faculty Wives and with the PTA at Frank Borman, Eva Hodge and Newton Rayzor elementary schools and at Congress Junior High.
At her church, she served the Denton First United Methodist Church as a member of the Chancel Choir, Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Administrative Board, Searchers Sunday School class and the United Methodist Women.
Through the years, Linda made enduring friendships with all whom she encountered. Her ability to listen, be nonjudgmental, greet all with a smile and a hug, and wrap everyone in the warmness of her personality made for lifetime friendships. Her absence creates a void that will heal only with passage of time, if then.
She is survived by her husband of the home; son, David, of San Antonio and daughter, Ann, of Denton; five grandchildren whom she cherished, James Harris Stephens, Alexander Ray Poston, Helen Ann Stephens, Abigail Linda Poston and Hattie Joann Poston; brothers Donald Louis Delaplain and Robert Paul Delaplain; sister Dorothy Delaplain Escamilla.
She is predeceased by her parents; brother James Lisle Delaplain Jr.; sisters Eunice Delaplain Graham and Carol Delaplain Bennett.
Her survivors also include 22 nieces and nephews on the Delaplain side and 14 nieces and nephews on the Stephens side, and an expanding number of nieces and nephews of succeeding generations who all hold their auntie as a dear friend, as well as many friends who knew and loved her.
During particular summers and for special occasions, Linda and Ray and children traveled in a Tiltin' Hiltin camper on their pickup truck to particular places in the United States. Linda stayed busy in the camper, preparing snacks along the way, as miles traveled and ample food consumed made for happy campers.
Linda and Ray later traveled in Canada, all countries in western and central Europe, Costa Rica, Mexico and Taiwan. A highlight journey was when Linda and Ray, with their two children and spouses and five grandchildren, spent over two weeks traveling with a BritRail pass as a family group in England and Scotland.
Linda took great pleasure working in the yard at home to encourage a variety of flowers and plants to flourish. She was a supreme hostess to family and friends at family reunions held at her Denton home and at her second home near Stonewall.
Her recipe box was frequently used to prepare delectable meals in her kitchen where she presided as chef extraordinaire. She entertained her grandchildren by playing church songs on the piano while enlisting them to sing along, reading to them their favorite nursery rhymes and later with book chapters, and by enlisting their aid in breakfast preparations when they were mere tots by encouraging them to believe that they had invented a sumptuous meal.
Linda was one of a kind, a rare jewel to those whom she loved and cherished over a long and happy life.
Visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today at the DeBerry funeral home and a celebration of Linda's happy and productive life will be observed at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Denton First United Methodist Church. Burial will be in a family portion of the Highland Cemetery in Stonewall.
The family wishes to thank the marvelous and dedicated caregivers who gave their all to help Linda to experience an enhanced quality of life in spite of her struggle with dementia: Kelly Robinson, Chris Boothe, Stephanie Wood, Carrie Colberg, Amanda Johnson, Mercy Kariuki, Taylor Stocker, Jordyn Alexander. You shall have stars in your crown.
Published on September 17, 2019

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