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Obituary: David Kelly Stephayn

David Kelly Stephayn was born Oct. 6, 1943, to Andrew Sr., and Viola (Kelly) Stephayn. He passed away peacefully at Rose Arbor Hospice in the evening hours of March 10, 2022, just moments after a final prayer was said for God to welcome him home from his journey.
David grew up and lived most of his life in Lawton, where he was deeply rooted in his community. Sports played a huge part in his life, a love that started at an early age. By fifth grade, he was leading basketball practices in his yard and by 14, started a summer recreation league for kids his own age. In high school, he was the first recipient of the Vaughn Cornish Top Male Athlete Award, as well as many all-conference, all state and all area honors.
After a successful high school basketball career, David went on to play at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, as well as spending 15 years in the Kalamazoo Area Men’s Class A League, winning five state championships and making friendships that would last a lifetime. He enjoyed the experience of playing at the Chicago United Center before a Chicago Bulls game, and an exhibition game before a Harlem Globetrotters event, even hitting the winning shot at the buzzer, though he admittedly wasn’t supposed to get the ball.
On June 6, 1964, he married his high school sweetheart, Judith Ann McKeeby, and together they built their own home in Lawton and raised three children, Kelli, Wendi, and Mike. They had a great group of close friends and enjoyed skiing, fishing, snowmobiling, playing cards, hosting parties and anything involving their community. David lovingly cared for Judy throughout her five-year battle with cancer, until the time of her death in 1999. 
David always loved kids and stayed thoroughly involved in not only the lives of his own children and grandchildren but had an impact on countless others. He never missed a grandchild’s ballgame or activity until his final months, once even going directly from being released from the hospital. In Lawton, he coached elementary and middle school basketball and both the girls’ and boys’ high school varsity basketball programs. He started the Lawton Little League and devoted many years to building and maintaining the Little League fields and concession stand, which were named in his honor. He was also instrumental in building the Kids’ Dream community playground. 
David served on the Lawton Board of Education for eight years, beginning at age 24, and oversaw the construction of the high school. He and his group of friends built the press box on the original football field. He helped build the concession stand on the current sports complex and spent 42 years working the sidelines for Friday night football games on the “Chain Crew.” He was part of the first class of inductees into the Lawton Community Hall of Fame. He served as a member of the Lions Club and the Jaycees, being awarded the Miss Lawton swimsuit title. Dave was a dedicated employee of Eaton Corporation and served as facilities director and plant manager for nearly 30 years.
In his later years, David met the second love of his life, Jill, and they were married April 7, 2008, until the time of his death. Faith played a significant role in their life together. They were blessed to serve their Lord with one another and make special friendships during their time at RedArrow Ministries, Trenches Community Church, through all the activities of Jesus Loves Kalamazoo, and most recently at Trinity Lutheran Church, Paw Paw. They also stayed connected with many of David’s lifelong Lawton friends and got together frequently for dinner, cards and ballgames.
David was a great role model and a patient and loving stepdad to Jill’s son’s, Nick and Taylor, and they will be better men having had him in their lives.
David bravely faced every challenge Lewy Body Dementia threw at him and never complained. He was a fighter to the end and now rests in the arms of his Savior Jesus Christ without any of the physical or mental challenges he had come to know on this earth. To know David was to love him as the “big teddy bear” of a guy that he was, always willing to lend a hand and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He lived life to the fullest and will be dearly missed by family, friends, his community, and his memory will live on in the lives of those he touched.
David is survived by his wife, Jill; children, Kelli (Scott) Whittington, Wendi Church, Mike (Lisa) Stephayn; step-children, Nick Messer, Taylor (Carly) Boudi; grandchildren, Shayne (Danni) Whittington, Spencer (Dusti) Whittington, Erika (Dylan) Whittington, Stephayn (Katie) Church, Matthew (Mikayla) Church, Emma Stephayn, Drew Stephayn, Evan Stephayn; brother, Andrew Stephayn, Jr.; sisters, Patti (Gary) Romans and Sharon Stephayn; great-grandchildren Charli, Gracie and Brayden; nieces and nephews and extended family.
David was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Judy and great-granddaughter, Alexa.
Per his wishes, cremation has taken place. Family and friends will visit at Adams Funeral Home, 502 West Michigan Ave., Paw Paw, on Friday, March 18, from 1-3 and 5-8 p.m. A true celebration of his life and accomplishments will be fittingly held in the Lawton High School Gymnasium on Saturday, March 19, at 10 a.m. with a luncheon to follow at the Lawton Community Center. A private family burial will take place at Oak Grove Cemetery, Lawton, at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Lawton Education Foundation, memo line, David K. Stephayn Memorial Scholarship Fund. P.O. Box 215 Lawton, MI,49065.
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