John C. Stevenson

Born: Omaha, NE on 14 February 1933

Passed away: Lakewood, CO on 27 April 2016

Aged: 83 years

Funeral Date: 07 May 2016

Service Details

Graveside services and interment 1:00 P.M. Saturday, May 7, 2016, Home Cemetery Tarkio, Missouri.

Funeral Company

Minter Funeral

The Story

John Cleland Stevenson, an engineer who worked on projects as diverse as the space shuttle program and the BART system in San Francisco, died on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Lakewood, Colorado. John was 83.

John grew up on a farm in Tarkio, Missouri, halfway between Kansas City and Omaha, but he had a passion for travel and adventure. He lived for two years in Shiraz, Iran, working on a U.S. joint project before the fall of the Shah. After graduating from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, he attended college at the School of Mines in Rapid City, South Dakota. His mechanical engineering degree gained him a role working at IBM at the dawn of the computer age. He served as a critical specialist in the U.S. Army. He worked on the minuteman missile program and later on the B1-B long range bomber program.

Throughout his life, John was fascinated with the outdoors and beautiful, often uninhabited, locations. He photographed these locations and their wildlife. His images were published by Animals Animals of New York City and appeared in various publications such as Smithsonian Magazine.

John met Jo-Anne Marie Hickman, his future wife, in Boulder, Colorado, in 1953, but married her later in 1974. Together they traveled the world, including the time working in Iran, but also journeys to the UK, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and various points in the United States.

As an engineer with a curious mind and a knack for language, John was also an inventor and a storyteller. In the late eighties, he patented a method to reduce the Atkinson cycle to practical use in automobile engines. The patent expired, but unbeknownst to John, the same technology was emerging in production models and has now become commonplace powering over one million vehicles on the road. Throughout his life, he documented his family history and his travels in unpublished essays and books that remain with the family.

John is survived by his wife, Jo-Anne Marie, and his children, Debra Anne Edwards with her husband, William James Edwards, Robert John Broughton, Judith Marie Broughton, and John Peter Stevenson with his wife, Siejen Yin Stevenson, and his grandchildren, Christine Marie Edwards Stewart with her husband Andrzej Matthew Stewart, Lindsey Joanne Edwards, William Michael Edwards, Andrew John Edwards, and John Robert Stevenson, and his great-grandchild, Austin James Stewart. He had one nephew, two nieces, and numerous cousins. John’s sister, Caroline Stevenson Beebe, pre-deceased John, as did his parents, John Marshall and Catherine Polley Stevenson.
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Delivered at his graveside service, May 7th, 2016: Thank you all for coming here today. As his son, I will miss my Dad, John so much. Dad, earlier last week, I said goodbye to you. As dad, you did a great job. When I left home, which now is over 20 years ago, I missed you so much. I remember getting dropped off at boarding school, the same school you went to, feeling so alone for the first time. I feel that way now, but much much worse. You must have known how much I looked up to you. You built space ships, so I built space legos. You went to a military school, so I did too. You took an engineering degree, so I did too. You let me seek my fortune in distant parts of this world, and I appreciate that. I have been here, to this spot, many times now. One year ago, we were both right here. You came here, right here, as you always did, and now I finally know why. Dad, I'm glad we are here in Tarkio, I know you loved this town and the land around it. It is fitting and appropriate to bring you home. Dad, people have told me some nice things about you. They say you made them smile and that you brightened their day. Mom said that too, she misses talking to you. I'd like to say a few things now about you dad, a few nice things that I wish I could you tell you in person. You were a nice guy, dad, one of the good guys. You loved your country and believed in it, but you could never have gone into politics because you were way too honest in the best way possible. Dad, you almost always took the road less traveled, unless your family was hectoring you to get back on the interstate highway. As it turns out, we actually loved that slow forgotten road, but we just didn't know it then. You did not care what other people thought, you beat to your own drummer. Gathered friends, if I could make a recording of that drummer, I could sell a platinum record, and I know that because sometimes, a lot of the time, I have the same stuff in my head. You were way smarter, way more intelligent, than I think even you knew. You were creative and you did so much with that. You built a prototype engine for the world's most fuel efficient cars. You took beautiful photographs of nature and people wanted to see them. Somehow you got the people of New York, as in New York City, interested in them. They were published and seen by I'm not sure how many. You were always planning your next adventure, your next hike off into the wild. You never complained. For the entire last year, since we were last here, you were in a lot of pain and discomfort. I knew you weren't a complainer, but wow, you suffered through a year of sick and didn't complain. Thank you for setting a good example in that way and in so many more. I miss you and there are a lot of people here missing you. Gathered friends and family, over the past few weeks I am at plus one and minus one family member. Continuing a long tradition, just one month ago, on April 4th (square root day, which dad, you are probably the only other one here who really really loves that), my wife gave birth to John Robert Stevenson. They aren't here today, because it is a long way from our home, in Palo Alto, but they both miss you so much. We knew that Robbie had your genes, well, obviously, but we knew that because even in the ultrasounds the ultrasounding techs said he had big ears. So there's that too, thank you dad. But yes, he got your ears and your giant head. And I remember when my wife was about to meet you for the first time -- she was nervous, but I described you as a giant teddy bear and that worked fine. I wish we had more time together and I wish you got to see Robbie grow up some more. I'm sure that he too will catch all those great genes, anyway dad, you taught me the playbook. I'll miss you but as I look at Robbie and show him the world, you'll always be with me. Speaking now for me, my mom, and many of us here: dad, John C., I love you and I miss you. You are back here now, your home town. Rest in peace.

John P. Stevenson


I miss you Dad. Love, Pete.

John P. Stevenson