Richard (Coach) Stephenson, age 77 of Gallatin, TN, passed away March 2, 2023. Richard was born August 9, 1945 in Fayetteville, TN. He was preceded in death by parents, E.R. (Pete) Stephenson, Jr. and Ruth Rutledge Stephenson; brother, Hoy Stephenson; brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Janis Stephenson. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Elaine Troxler Stephenson; sons, Sean Stephenson and John Stephenson (Marsha); grandchildren, Madeleine Stephenson, Caroline Stephenson, Brandt Stephenson and Victoria Stephenson; sister, Roberta Lunn; mother-in-law, Irma Troxler; sister-in-law, Beverly Smith and several nieces and nephews.
Richard graduated from Fayetteville Central High in 1963 where he played football, basketball, and golf for the Tigers and Dan Herron was his principal. He graduated from Belmont College with a B.A. in English and History in 1967, cum laude, and was named to the 1967 list of Outstanding Students in American Colleges and Universities. He played on the Rebels’ golf team at Belmont.
He began teaching on a graduate assistantship in English at MTSU in 1967. After marrying Elaine Troxler in August of 1968, he began teaching and coaching at Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, TN in September of that year. He taught post-graduate English and became chairman of the English Department in 1970, the same year he received his M.A. in English from MTSU. He coached football, basketball, and baseball at CHMA.
He moved to Gallatin High School in 1972 and taught there for 30 years. He was chairman of the English Department for 28 years. He coached baseball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, tennis, track and golf during those years. As he often said, “I was just a teacher who coached.” Richard was inducted in the GHS Athletic Hall of Fame in January, 2020.
After he retired from GHS, he began teaching at Pope John Paul II High School when it began in 2002. He taught eight years at JP2 and coached basketball and golf; he was also the chairman of the English Department. He taught English to thousands of students in his 43 years in the classroom and loved every minute of it. He believed in the words of British author, Charles Cumming, who said, “A student who reads the right books at the right time with the right teacher will have his life changed forever.”
He was a deacon at First Baptist Church in Gallatin and taught a men’s Sunday School class there for many years. He was a member of Gallatin Country Club since 1973. He was on the original board of directors who designed and opened Long Hollow Golf Course, Gallatin’s public course. Their Junior Golf Tournament was named after Richard. He was a board member of the Tennessee Valley Golf Association which holds the longest continuous match play tournament in the USA every July. He was a member of the Green Wave Quarterback Club, and their golf tournament was named Richard Stephenson 2-Man Ramble last fall. He was an inveterate reader, reading up to 100 books a year.
He was also a world traveler, carrying many groups of students and adults on overseas’ trips. He often said he knew the streets of London, Rome and Paris better than he knew the streets of Gallatin. After his retirement from teaching, he was one of the founding members of the “Everyday Boys,” a golfing group at Gallatin Country Club.
Funeral Service will be 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 7th at First Baptist Gallatin 205 East Main St. Gallatin, TN 37066 with Dr. Travis Fleming officiating. Interment will follow in Sumner Memorial Gardens with Jerry Vradenburg, Pat Webb, Billy Nolen, Paul Curd, Bo Bowling, Don Porter, Rob Hosier and Mike Cook serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers are Faith & Works Class and Deacons at First Baptist Gallatin and Calvin Short. Visitation will be Monday, March 6th from 3:00-7:00 p.m. at Alexander Funeral Home & Cremation Center and Tuesday, March 7th 12:00 noon until time of service at the church.
Alexander Funeral Home & Cremation Center is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be submitted at alexandergallatin.com. (615) 502-0011
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