Thomas James Stephenson
Tom Stephenson, 62, left this earth peacefully on May 16, 2018 in Denver.
Tom was born on Oct 31, 1955 in Chicago. Proud son of Angela and C. Dean Stephenson. His childhood was spent in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Tom graduated in 1977 from Tulane University with a BA in psychology. More than a decade later he studied for his Masters in Public Administration.
After his college graduation, Tom moved to Aspen, a town that captured his soul on a previous visit. An improbable candidate for a law enforcement career, Tom nonetheless landed a job with the Aspen Police Department, first as a Community Safety Officer and then a Patrol Officer. In 1980, Tom’s ever-present wanderlust struck. He lived in Boston and then briefly in Greece, his father’s and grandparents’ birthplace and a country whose history he embraced and shared with all who knew him.
The magnetism of the Roaring Fork valley pulled him back a year later when, after a short stint as a City of Aspen bus driver (pre-RFTA), he was hired by Pitkin County Sheriff Dick “the Dove” Kienast as a peace officer. Tom moved up the ranks, serving as a patrol deputy, juvenile investigator and patrol director for the Sheriff’s Office from 1981 to 1992. Tom left the Sheriff’s Office to serve as Aspen’s Chief of Police for seven years. Tom was resolute in his desire to continue a “community oriented policing” philosophy practiced by the Sheriff’s Office before that catch phrase became a internationally recognized lexicon.
In 1986 Tom married his love, Ann. Although their wedding pre-dated the film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, there were wondrous similarities albeit in reverse. Travel was always Tom’s passion and Ann was quickly on board. They traveled the world sailing, reading, writing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, birding, photographing and discovering new cultures. Greece, Pakistan, Mexico, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Tonga, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Costa Rica, and the list was just beginning.
Tom demonstrated his devotion to public service as a member of the Basalt Regional Fire Department Board of Directors and as a Basalt Town Councilperson. He served as a manager with Colorado West Mental Health’s Youth Program and, after government funding shortages ended that important program, he managed the Transitional Living Program at Colorado West. His “retirement gig” was with Atlantic Aviation, putting him in an ideal position to indulge his passion for aviation and all things that fly.
As Tom flies, he leaves behind his devoted wife Ann, his treasured nephews Dean, Sam, and River, his sister Deidre Stephenson his brothers Peter (Debby Porter) Stephenson and Mark (Lili) Stephenson, his fourth and fifth rescue “pups,” Cali and Currie, his Aunt Esther Poulos, his Mom-in-law, Barbara Latchic, many cousins, and countless loving friends.
There will be a graveside service at Basalt’s Fairview Cemetery on Friday, May 25, 2018 at 11:00 am. Anyone is welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the International Rhino Fund, 201 Main St. Suite 2600, Fort Worth, TX 76102. Website rhinos.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Ann can be reached at 1016 Lauren Lane, Basalt, Colorado 81621.
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