Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches
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KING SOLOMON STEPHENS II
King Solomon Stephens II (1955-1995), a member of the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin from 1988 to 1995, was born in Galveston, Texas, on August 7, 1955, to King Solomon and Pauline Stephens.
Following a private preparatory education in Galveston, Mr. Stephens attended the University of Texas at Austin. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish in 1977 and a Master of Science in Social Work degree in 1981. While in school, he was a Moody Foundation Scholar and was the recipient of a University of Texas Graduate Opportunity Fellowship and Department of Human Resources Scholarship.
Mr. Stephens was employed as a social worker by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston from 1977 to 1981. He was employed by the Texas Department of Human Services from 1981 to 1983 and by the Austin-Travis County Health Department from 1983 to 1989. He joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work in 1988 as a Counseling Specialist. In 1991 he became a Field Specialist, teaching a variety of social work field and methods courses, until his death. While at UT Austin, he served as a member of the BSW committee and was chair of the Scholarship and Admissions Subcommittee, and Minority Liaison Officer. His scholarly activities included co-authoring the article "Refugee and Immigrant Social Service Delivery: Critical Management Issues" in the Journal of Multicultural Social Work in 1992.
Mr. Stephens was active in numerous community and professional organizations, serving as the chair of the Medical Social Workers' Committee of the American Cancer Society and as a member of the board of directors of Services to the Elderly, Inc. He was a very active member of the National Association of Social Workers for many years and was well-known for his service both at the state and national level. At the state level, he served on the State Conference Program Committee and was the first Chair of the Minority Affairs Task Force. At the national level, he served on the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He was also active in the National Association of Black Social Workers, Austin Chapter. Mr. Stephens was a founding member of the organization and served on its Executive Committee as its Treasurer, Vice President, and, at the time of his death, President of the organization. Mr. Stephens served on the board of directors of AIDS Services of Austin for four years, highlighted by one year as Board President.
Mr. Stephens was recognized for his scholarship, professional contributions, and community services with the Friend of Field Award by the University of Texas at Austin in 1993 and Outstanding Young Man of America Award in 1982. He was listed in Who's Who Among Human Services Professionals. In 1995 he was nominated for the Dan Forrister Memorial Award for HIV Concerns. In 1996, the Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers-Texas, gave the Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously to Mr. Stephens. The School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin has established an endowed scholarship in his name, which will be awarded to one student each year in perpetuity.
Mr. Stephens died on September 7, 1995. He is survived by his mother, Pauline Stephens, and his sisters Deborah Stephens, Shirley Copeland, Marie Stephens and Mae Ella Esther. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews and supportive friends and colleagues. He will be greatly missed by his pets, LeRoi and Celeste.
King is remembered by his many friends and students as an exacting wit, a challenging intellect, a black belt in karate, and a fierce Jeopardy competitor. He lived life to the fullest. King was an eloquent communicator in both Spanish and English. He also spoke French and Italian. King was not only multilingual, but he immersed himself in diverse cultures. He loved their dancing and food. His learning was not superficial; he learned not only the language, but understood the historical context, music, art, and writing of diverse cultures. He had fun with language, and knew the nuances of culture. He loved to travel.
He was a true advocate and friend with people of the barrio; in his early years he taught English as a Second Language. King was involved with the School of Social Work's early collaborative conferences with Mexico. King was a model of respect for diversity.
Some of his students, friends and colleagues recalled:
He exemplified Chaucer's Scholar: "Gladly would he learn, and gladly teach. "
He should be always remembered for his life of service to the ideals of the profession in so many ways. He was always giving and caring to people; be they clients, colleagues, or other members of the community. He often took on the challenge of student interns with special needs. He had the patience and commitment to work with students who required more attention and instruction. You could really observe the "before and after" differences in the confidence levels and abilities of King's social work interns.
He continually sought out ways of enhancing his skills and training. King was truly someone the social work profession can be proud of.
His tireless efforts and dedication paid off in terms of minority student recruitment at UT. King was the initiator and impetus for minority participation in the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He worked behind the scenes to get minorities involved. He could have had a leadership role himself, but instead chose to push others. He is the reason the state Minority Affairs Task Force is as visible as it is today. The current President of the state chapter ran for office because of King's encouragement and commitment to minority involvement.
He was a multi-faceted person: so whole; so complete; so enough. He was a compassionate, caring, gentle, peaceful man. He was serious about giving; he did whatever was asked of him and at the same time, supported others in their work. He was an amazing personality, a man who loved diversity and cared about people in this country no matter what their circumstances or situations. He helped mold young minds that he would know could go out and make a difference in this world.
King will be remembered for his strong expression of opinions; his convictions; his pride in himself; and his love of family and friends. He was an advocate of family.
King's polish was real!
King was a special person whose fierce intellect and commitment to social justice challenged our ideas and our sense of responsibility. The dignity with which he faced his own greatest challenge, the illness which took his life, continues to teach us valuable lessons about life and how we treat others.
His diligence and commitment to teaching was apparent and his knowledge of social work skills was vast.
One student reflected on how much he "scared" her. His first comment to her was: "I expect the best from me so, therefore, I expect the best from you also...and more." He would have told us that we have a responsibility to continue living because there are people around us who need us and there's a lot to be done.
I believe King was an instrument of God: he knew what messages to give each of us.
King's philosophy of life was expressed to many: Do the best you can; be the best you can be; and first and foremost, take care of yourself.
The cornerstones of King's life were family, friends, food, music, laughter, and knowledge.
He loved his family; he loved the ocean; he loved traveling. Whenever chaos was in his life, the water always calmed his spirit. He's left us now on his most exotic, and most important trip.
King was a kaleidoscope to me. Students loved King so much. He had an incredible love for books and knowledge. He embodied the many faces of social work. King would want us to rise up and get involved! His spirit would want us all to continue forward.
While King was a remarkable teacher in a formal sense, his most important lesson was how he chose to live his life. At the time of his death, many commented on him having fulfilled his destiny although he died young. For King, this was a conscious choice. He knew through most of his adult life that he was dying. Rather than retreating from challenges or using illness as an excuse, he diligently left his mark on this world.
Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin
John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty
This Memorial Resolution was prepared by a Special Committee consisting of Professors Ruth McRoy (Chair), Dennis Haynes, Jane Kretzschmar, and Kathryn Wambach.