Major Michael's Story

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Major Michael J. Stephenson, (USAF retired), 69, died August 3, 2017, at CVPH Medical Center with his wife by his side after one helluva stubborn fight against cancer. Not only was he hopeful, determined and thanking his nurses for their excellent caregiving - he was eating coconut ice cream and worrying about his loved ones - right up to the end. Mike was a husband, a father, a grandfather; an aviator and a sailor; and friend to many, generously giving of his time, talent and (sometimes unsolicited but always right) advice.
He was born April 25, 1948, in Honolulu, Hawaii, into a military family and lived in New Mexico, Washington, Mississippi, Florida, California, Texas and South Dakota. Mike went to three different high schools around the country, was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Marina High School, Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1966. He was a distinguished ROTC cadet in college, earned his bachelor's degree from California State College, and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. Mike earned a master's degree in aeronautical science. He served 21 years as a navigator, radar strike officer, weapons officer, wing strike operations officer and instructor navigator flying both F-111 and FB-111A nuclear fighter bombers. Mike loved to fly like his hair was on fire; the max speed of that aircraft was 1672 mph. Stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y., three times, Lakenheath Royal Air Force Base in England and United States Space Command in Colorado Springs, Mike flew the last FB-111A from active service as the aircraft was retired in 1991 and then retired himself in 1992.
Mike spent his civilian chapter learning and teaching. He earned another bachelor's and master's degree - in mapping and computer science. He would happily fix your computer, your boat, your car, your house and leaves a basement, garage and storage unit full of spare parts, tools, hardware and manuals he'd kept just in case anyone needed it someday. Flying was his job, but boating was his passion - he sailed his boat "Orion" on Lake Champlain, volunteered with the Coast Guard Auxiliary as an Assistant District Staff Officer, and was the Commander of the Champlain Sail and Power Squadron and volunteered with the organization for over 25 years. Mike also worked as a Special Deputy with the Clinton County Sheriff's Department Marine Patrol. For over a decade he helped to rescue countless people in distress, enforced boater laws, assisted Customs and Border Control, taught boater safety classes and maintained the department's vehicles and boats.
Left behind to carry on his legacy are his wife Laura Martin-Stephenson of Plattsburgh, N.Y.; his daughter, Michelle Stephenson Galvez of Virginia Beach, Va., and son Mark of San Diego, Calif.; grandchildren Isabella, Grace and Zachary Galvez; stepson Kiel LaPlante, his wife Rosey and step-grandchildren Liam and Zoey of Kissimmee, Fla.
Visitation will be at the R.W. Walker Funeral home in Plattsburgh on August 10th from 3 to 5 p.m. with a funeral service to follow at 5 p.m. Attendees with military affiliation are asked to wear their dress uniforms (one of the Major's specific requests). Burial will be at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
The family thanks the doctors, nurses, aides and staff at CVPH (for whom Michael had wanted to throw a party) for their constant care, dedication, professionalism and friendly bedside manners throughout Michael's treatment and lengthy hospitalization.
To share a photo, story, or condolence with Michael's family, please visit www.rwwalkerfh.com.
Arrangements have been entrusted into the care of the R.W. Walker Funeral Home, 69 Court Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901. (518) 563-1760.
Published on August 7, 2017
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