Gerry Stephens
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10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Friday, December 28, 2018
First Presbyterian Church
554 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States

Obituary of Gerry Underwood Stephens

Chattanooga civic and philanthropic leader Gerry Underwood Stephens, 93, died on December 20 at his home in Riverview.


A third-generation Chattanoogan, Gerry graduated from The McCallie School and Washington & Lee University prior to completing post-graduate studies at the Stonier School of Banking at Rutgers University.  He was the embodiment of a Southern gentleman, devoted to duty and service to others.  As a member of the Greatest Generation, he exemplified the McCallie motto of “Honor, Truth, Duty” as well as the Boy Scout Oath.


Gerry served in all five European Campaigns during World War II, including the Allied Landing at Normandy and Battle of the Bulge, as battalion munitions sergeant and during the Korean War as Finance Corps officer in the Office of the Comptroller Third Army Headquarters.  He returned as a WWII veteran to his hometown to engage in a 33-year-long career in banking at American National Bank (SunTrust Bank).


Gerry is a family surname pronounced with a hard ‘G’ (a lifelong source of amusement), and Gerry’s initial middle name was Hamilton in lineage from Revolutionary War Col. George Hamilton, an original member of the Order of the Cincinnati. A descendant on both sides of his family from a long line of Methodist and Baptist preachers, judges and educators, Gerry continued his family’s tradition of promoting Christian education through service and membership on many boards, including Chattanooga Bible Institute, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christian Community Foundation and Bible in the Schools. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church since 1933, where he was youth Sunday School teacher, Assistant Sunday School Superintendent, Chairman of the Board of Deacons and Ruling Elder.


He also held positions on a myriad of civic, educational and business boards, including King University, Sweet Briar College President’s Council, Scenic Land School, The McClellan Foundation, Helen M. Tipton Charitable Trust, American Institute of Banking, United Cerebral Palsy of Tennessee, Shorter University President’s Advisory Board, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School President’s Council, The Bright School, Moccasin Bend Girl Scout Association, Industrial Development Committee, Better Business Bureau, Easter Seal Society and Rotary International as Rotary District Treasurer and President of the Chattanooga Rotary Club.


Gerry was the 1991 King of the Chattanooga Cotton Ball and president of the Chattanooga Cotton Ball Association.


An accomplished athlete and member of the first soccer team at W&L, Gerry took immense pleasure in his annual presentation of the Stephens Athletic Medal at McCallie to the best all-around athlete, an award initiated by his father.


The Mountain City Club was Gerry’s “home away from home”, and he could be found there almost every weekday having lunch in the members’ dining room except on Thursdays, when he faithfully attended the Rotary Club meeting.


Gerry was born in 1925 to Chester Oliver and Martha Shorter Hamilton Stephens. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lucie Estes Carter Stephens, children Lucie Howard Stephens Holland (Mrs. Steven Asbury Holland), of Alexandria, VA; Allison Ward Stephens and Gerry Underwood Stephens, Jr. of Chattanooga; grandson Carter Hamilton Holland of Charleston, SC; and sister Martha Shorter Stephens (Mrs. Monro Banister Lanier II). His numerous beloved nieces and nephews called him “Uncle Doc” in reference to his original plan to be a physician. His brother, C. O. Stephens, Jr. predeceased him.


The source of Gerry’s greatest happiness was his family and especially the times he spent with his extended relatives at the Stephens’ rural mountain compound on the Little River in Mentone, Alabama and at The Cloister, Sea Island, Georgia.


Gerry will be laid to rest in a private family ceremony following a visitation for friends at First Presbyterian Church from 10:30 to noon on December 28. Honorary pallbearers are Gerry’s nephews Monro B. Lanier III, James Erel Elliott II, James Newton Hughes, Geoffrey A. Dougherty, Taylor Logan Tucker, Pitt Newton Hughes, Samuel B. Ellard and James D. Knowles, Jr.


In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Chattanooga Bible Institute, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, King University, Hospice of Chattanooga or a charity of choice.


Gerry’s family wishes to thank his nurse, Mark Mollenkof, and the dedicated team from Hospice of Chattanooga for their care.


Arrangements are by Wann Funeral Home and Cremation Center (423) 821-7551.


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