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Joseph Aziel Stevenson, beloved husband of Shirley Irene Sallenbach, passed away peacefully in Raymond on October 10, 2023, at the age of 91. A beacon of unwavering faith and devotion to God, family, and community, Joe’s life was a testament to the profound impact one person can have on the lives of many.
Joe was born on March 8, 1932, in the upstairs north bedroom of his grandparents’ home in the small town of Raymond, Alberta, Canada. He was the third of seven children in the Aziel and Lulu Stevenson family. At the tender age of eight years old, he was involved in a tragic accident in which he lost his right hand. As heart-wrenching as it was not to do everything for him, his wise and loving mother taught him to be as independent as possible, allowing him to figure out on his own how to write and tie his shoes with his left hand. From there, he went on with determination to do all he could with his one hand and never let it stop him from doing anything he wanted to accomplish, from playing sports to farming to doing construction. He became quite the jack-of-all-trades. He was a great athlete and especially loved playing badminton, roller skating, and golf. Later in life, he coached Little League as well as church basketball and softball, helping more than one team go on to win championships. As a senior citizen, he loved playing pool with his friends at the Raymond Seniors Centre, where he could compete with the best of them!
Joe’s resolve and desire for excellence impacted every aspect of his life. In school, he was an outstanding student. He loved math, science, and law and planned to become a lawyer; however, he instead accepted an opportunity to help pay for his brother to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By doing so, he didn’t have enough money to go to law school, but he never regretted that decision, as his sacrifice turned out to be a blessing for both their lives. He changed career paths and became an exceptional schoolteacher and principal. He taught school in Grande Prairie, Milk River, and Stirling and became vice-principal of the Stirling schools for eight years, after which he was principal for an additional 18 years until his retirement in 1988. He lived by his motto for teaching, “Dedication to Excellence and Dedication to Students”, which was evident in the many lasting connections he made with his students and staff.
Family was at the heart of everything Joe did in life. He married his eternal sweetheart, Shirley, on September 27, 1958, in the Cardston Alberta Temple, and they recently celebrated 65 joyful years together. They were blessed with six children: Karen, Greg, John, Jim, Marilyn, and Julianne. Spending time together was a priority, with many great memories created doing yardwork and gardening, on summer vacations, ski trips, camping trips, and extended family reunions, with First of July celebrations being a highlight. At age 53, Joe suffered a heart attack, which was unexpected as he was in the habit of running five miles a day. This was the beginning of a long line of health issues for Joe. His family joked that he had “nine lives”, as he managed to pull through severely life-threatening situations time and time again.
Service has always been at the core of Joe’s life. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he faithfully served in many capacities: as Scout Master, Young Men’s advisor, Stake Young Men’s president, Seminary teacher for seven years, Bishop for five years, High Councilor for four years, Ward Clerk for 19 years, temple worker for 20 years, as well as many other callings. As a young man, he accepted a call to serve in the Central States mission where he immediately loved the people and found a special place in the hearts of the Native Americans there. Later in life, he and Shirley served a mission together in Pennsylvania which was especially dear to Joe, as his uncle Leslie, who died in battle during World War 1, had served in the same area prior to being drafted into the army. In the community, he served on the Town Council for three years and was instrumental in building the Ice Arena that still stands today. He absolutely loved the town of Raymond and was willing to serve his beloved community in any way he could.
Above all, Joe had a deep and abiding love for his Savior. His testimony was unwavering, and he dedicated his life to living the gospel and sharing it with others. He exemplified the Savior’s love through his countless acts of service and in his kind and charitable nature. Joe had a twinkle in his eye and a way of making everyone he met feel important and loved. In Joe’s own words, “My greatest desire is that we can all live in the exalted state in the eternities to come, with no empty chairs. I encourage all my posterity to make and keep covenants with the Lord so this will be possible.”
In addition to his cherished wife Shirley, Joe is survived by his children: Karen (Milan) Westenskow, Greg (DeeDee), John (Wendi), Jim (Shelly), Marilyn (Adam) Jacobsen, and Julie (Joe) Lewis; 30 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren with more on the way. He is predeceased by his loving parents, John Ornan Aziel Stevenson and Lulu Abigail Brim, along with his siblings, Ronald Brim, Elaine Low, Ray Melvin, Alan Brim, Janyce Erickson, and Joyce Tate.
In honor of Joe, we invite all who knew and loved him to share their memories and upload photos on his memorial page. Your stories and pictures will bring comfort and help keep his spirit alive in our hearts. As we remember Joe, we celebrate the remarkable man he was. His work ethic, passion for excellence, willingness to serve others, and profound love for his family, his town, and especially his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will always be gratefully remembered. His life is truly a legacy of love.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, October 28, 2023, at the Taylor Street Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Raymond (221 N 400 W).
Viewing and greet the family from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Funeral service at 1:00 p.m. with graveside service to follow at the Temple Hill Cemetery.
Family luncheon after the interment at the Taylor Street Chapel.
A live stream of the service will be available. The link will appear below 15 minutes prior to the service.