The Rev. Robert E. Stebbins died on June 17, 2014, at the age of 82. Robert was born on July 28, 1931, to Charles F. Stebbins and Velma J. Stebbins. He graduated with a Bachelor of Art from Bowling Green State University in 1953 and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School in 1956. He went on to receive his PhD in modern European history from University of Minnesota in 1960.
Rev. Stebbins was ordained to the Methodist fellowship on June 3, 1956. He served as program secretary at the University of Minnesota YMCA/YWCA from 1956 to 1958 as well as conducting Sunday services at the Methodist Church in New Richmond, Wisconsin. He then served as part time Interim Assistant Minister at the Mayflower Congregational Church from 1958 to 1959.
Rev. Stebbins withdrew from the Methodist ministry in 1959, and was fellowshipped as a Universalist minister the same year. After the merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America, he became a Unitarian Universalist minister. While studying for his PhD, he served as the executive director for Tri-U, a Unitarian Universalist student group at the University of Minnesota from 1959 to 1961. Rev. Stebbins served as a professor of European history at Eastern Kentucky State College from 1963 until his retirement in 2000.
Rev. Stebbins was one of the founders of the Madison County UU Fellowship in 1978. He was an active member of the congregation for the rest of his life, most often serving as program chair for the lay led congregation.
Robert enjoyed traveling, and explored all seven continents; he followed a ritual of climbing to the highest point of each destination. He was an avid tennis player, and played until the age of seventy-eight. Friends and colleagues recall his “rational perspective” and sense of humor.
Robert’s family members fondly remember his “general delight in living,” and the love he had for his wife and three daughters. His wife, Ann Stebbins, noted, “He encouraged me to reach a potential I did not know I had. He helped me lead a life I did not know I could.”
He is survived by his wife, K. Ann Stebbins; daughters, Susan Stebbins Collins (William Collins), Beth Ann Stebbins (Doug Brown), and Kara Lynn Stebbins (Al Ferro); granddaughter, Emily Stebbins (Chris Vita); grandson, Russell Brown; sister, Ruth Raines; nephew, Blake Raines (Rei-fung Raines) and grand-niece, Karlene Raines.
A Celebration of Life was held on June 21, 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Madison County, in Richmond, KY.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice Care Plus, 208 Kidd Drive, Berea, KY 40403; the Madison County Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1081 Willis Branch Road, Richmond, KY 40475; or the American Humanist Association, 1777 T Street, Washington, DC 20009.
Notes of condolences may be sent to Ann Stebbins at 208 College View Dr., Richmond, KY 40475.
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