Thomas "Fred" Frederick Stephens
Thomas "Fred" Frederick Stephens
January 8, 1927 - July 30, 2017
Thomas Frederick “Fred” Stephens, 90, of Wichita Falls, died on Sunday, July 30, 2017.
Memorial services will be at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at Grace Church, 5214 Stone Lake Drive, with Reggie Coe officiating. Private interment at the Stephens’ Family Ranch will precede the service. Arrangements are under the direction of Lunn's Colonial Funeral Home. Fred’s son, sons-in-law and grandsons will serve as honorary pallbearers. The family will receive friends at a visitation from 6:00-7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, at Lunn’s.
Fred was loved by his family and friends for 90 years. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on January 8, 1927, to Thomas Aaron Stephens and Dixie Lee Robinson Stephens. He had three siblings, Mark and Mary Frances, who preceded him in death, and Betty by whom he is survived.
Fred married Jane Scaling Pendleton, also from Fort Worth, on November 5, 1949, and they were married 52 years to the day of their marriage date until her passing. Both Fred and Jane are survived by three children and nine grandchildren: Susan and Mark Geyer and their children, Stewart, Julia and Edward; Katherine and Steven Smethie and their children, James, Bradley, Justin and Laura and husband, Warren Gehring; and Tom and Brenda Stephens and their children, Janie and Emily. Fred’s passions were family, work, ranching and jelly beans.
Fred Stephens had been a part of the “oil patch” since his college days at UT PGE in the late 1940s working long Texas summers as a roughneck in Wink and roustabout in Ozona. In 1949, after graduating from UT Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering, Fred’s career began when he accepted an engineering job in Wichita Falls with Cable Engineering, a company owned by Joe Cable, the father of one of Fred’s classmates.
He took the job working as an engineer for Cable despite the fact that it paid $175.00 a month compared with the $225.00 a month he had been making as a roughneck on a rig in Wink, Texas. Although the starting salary for an engineer was less than roughneck wages, it had its perks, namely working in an office behind a desk instead of wrestling with drilling equipment in the rain, heat and cold. Fred’s wife, Jane, made the move with him to Wichita Falls, where they established a home and raised a family.
Fred left the roughneck job and never looked back. During the 1950s, the engineering firm went through various ownerships, becoming Cable & Stephens and eventually Stephens Engineering. Today, Stephens Engineering is a consulting engineering firm specializing in all phases of the oil and gas industry, including the planning, installation, and supervision of secondary recovery projects. Stephens Engineering also performs the services of preparing valuations of oil and gas properties and oil and gas reservoir studies. In 1959, Fred sold part of the company to Joe L. Johnson, Jr., and this partnership continues today in the form of Stephens Engineering. In 1962, S & J Operating Company was formed and began contract operating oil and gas properties for others, and during the late 1970s, began purchasing properties and operating for themselves. In 1993, Stephens & Johnson Operating Co. was formed and took over all of the property operations. SJOC continues to operate properties in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and North Dakota and is a highly respected operator within the industry.
A proud Longhorn engineer, Fred was dedicated to providing career opportunities to UT and other state of Texas PGE graduates, having offered several young graduates their first jobs after graduation, and serving as a business and professional mentor for multiple generations of UT PGE graduates. As a result of his success in the oil & gas industry, Fred gave generously to The University of Texas at Austin, as well as United Regional Healthcare System, Midwestern State University and hundreds of smaller charities. Through the Stephens Family Foundation, Fred established the Stephens Family Endowed Excellence Fund in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering in 2007. Fred was a Texas Exes Life Member and a longtime supporter of Friends of Alec.
Fred had many interests outside of the office. He owned land in Clay, Archer and Wichita Counties where he ran cattle, loved to hunt quail, and enjoyed great Texas sunsets. He always said that he couldn’t afford to be a cattleman if he wasn’t an oilman! The family enjoyed their home at Possum Kingdom Lake, as well as a home on the Taylor River in Colorado, where they spent a portion of their summer and Christmas holidays together. In addition to ranching and hunting, he enjoyed fly fishing and collecting western art, as well as attending every Longhorn football game possible.
Fred loved history, museums, travel, and learning new things. He always said his goal was to show his family the entire 50 states, but when asked why they never got to go to New York, he said, “Well, you know I don’t really care for that part of the country.” In fact, in reality, Fred truly loved all of the country and served in the United States Navy’s radar division toward the end of World War II. Fred was a man of good faith and a long-time member of The Church of the Good Shepherd.
For those desiring, a gift to The Church of the Good Shepherd would be greatly appreciated.