Henry Riley Stephenson, a 62-year resident of Colville, passed away on Oct. 14, 2011 in Colville at the age of 90. Riley was born on June 18, 1921 in Burwell, Nebraska, the son of Clarence Daniel and Rebecca Amanda (Tockey) Stephenson.
He was raised in Nebraska and graduated in 1941 from the town of Boelus. Riley entered the U.S. Army on Dec. 19, 1944 and served overseas in the Pacific Theater. He was honorably discharged on Nov. 12, 1946 and returned to Nebraska. On Oct. 27, 1946 he married Roma Evelyn Reher, â€śhis million dollar baby that he met at the 5 & dime store.â€ť
Three years later, they moved to Colville, where Riley farmed four years for Harold Kohlstedt. He then went to work at the Colville Flour Mill, where he processed flour and helped in maintenance and repair. In 1962, Riley took an in-town delivery position at the Colville Post Office. He provided mail service for 20 years, spending the last four years as a rural route carrier. Riley retired in 1982 from the postal service, but continued to operate â€śStephenson and Sons Dive Shop,â€ť which he began from his home in 1971. He closed the doors to the dive shop in 1996 and began traveling with his wife. With a truck and camper, they covered thousands of miles throughout California, Mexico, Nebraska, Alaska and every place in-between.
Riley was an avid scuba diver and a 50-year charter member of the â€śTri-County Diversâ€ť team which served the Sheriffâ€™s Office, Search and Rescue and offered submersion recovery. He was a man who knew few limitations and dove until he was 86. He had a great love of music, and spent several years calling squares at local grange halls. His greatest joy was listening to his daughters play and sing. Riley was also a gifted writer who published the Haller Creek Observant for 10 years and wrote countless poems and reflections, which he shared with family and friends. His green thumb was a great compliment to his vegetable garden and fruit trees,which yielded wonderful yearly harvests. He believed strongly in taking an active political role in society and taking time to share with family and friends. He will be remembered as a caring, sassy, fun-loving, outgoing, flirtatious, mentor who was always there for his family.
Riley was preceded in death by his daughter, Amanda Mae (Stephenson) Thomas; sisters, Clara Elstermeier, Isabelle Keldsen and Rhoda Jensen.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Roma Stephenson, at the home; daughter, Twilla George and husband, Morley, Colville; sons, William â€śBillâ€ť Stephenson, Great Falls, MT; Clarence â€śEdwardâ€ť Stephenson and wife, Shirley, Great Falls; brother, Fred Hilmer, Cotesfield, NE; thirteen grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren.
At Rileyâ€™s request, there will be no public memorial service.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Arbor Day Foundation or you may plant a tree in his memory. Please visit the on-line memorial and sign the guestbook at www.danekasfuneralchapel.com.
Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory is entrusted with the arrangements.