Memorial Service for Frederick R. Stephan

   Life Stories | Posted on November 8, 2022

On Oct. 24, 2022, Frederick Russell Stephan passed away at Woodland Terrace in Bridgman, Michigan, at the age of 94 awaiting the second coming of his beloved Savior.

A memorial service honoring his life will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at 3:30 p.m. in the Youth Chapel at Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan. If you are unable to attend, you may join the service livestreamed at

Fred was born on June 4, 1928, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the fourth of six children all of whom preceded him in death, including his younger brothers Ralph Stephan and James Stephan and older siblings Alice Clapp, Christian Stephan and Gertrude Bigorowski.

Fred met his wife Sylvia (Wente) while attending Emmanuel Missionary College in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Upon graduating from there, Fred and Sylvia went to Wisconsin where he pastored for the Seventh-day Adventist Church from 1955 to 1960. During this time, their first child Brian was born in Eau Claire, and four years later Elise was born in Green Bay.

From 1960 to 1966, he was principal of Wisconsin Academy where Fred found a passion in serving the Lord through education and remained in the educational field the rest of his career. Fred left Wisconsin and accepted the call to be the Southern New England Education Superintendent in 1967 in South Lancaster, Massachusetts. It was here their third child Jill was born. He stayed in New England until 1969 when he accepted the call to be the Education Superintendent for the Michigan Conference. Two years later, the family moved to Berrien Springs where Fred became the Lake Union Education Superintendent until 1980. His next call took him to Maryland where he became the Director of Education K–12 for the North American Division of the General Conference. He then returned to the Lake Union as Education Superintendent in 1990 and stayed there until his retirement in 1995.

In retirement, Fred and Sylvia found extra time to travel and visit family. They also loved to volunteer at the Miller Farm, a historical farm, in upper state New York. After Sylvia became too ill to travel, Fred faithfully cared for her until she preceded him in death in 2014.

Fred was a loving father to their three children who survive him, F. Brian Stephan (Cindy), Elise Damron (Don), and Jill Simon (Matthew). Fred also leaves behind 7 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. Fred loved his family and made sure to spend individual time each week with each child. Holidays were always made extra enjoyable with treats he helped prepare such as popcorn balls and caramels, and Sabbaths were welcomed each week with a special family worship. When grandchildren came, his love extended to them as well. Each grandchild cherishes special memories with their grandpa like receiving special packages in the mail.

The family and all those who knew him will greatly miss him, but we have a blessed hope. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17, NKJV).

Messages and memories may be shared online at

If you wish to make a donation in Fred’s honor, please go to It will take you to a Michigan Conference electronic tithe envelope. Just scroll down until you find Christian Education Scholarship Endowment, a scholarship established to assist families with tuition needs for K–12 Adventist education, and fill in the amount of your donation.