Earl Thomas Stephens, 91, peacefully passed at the Bonners Ferry Extended Care Facility surrounded by his family on February 11, 2020. A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 15, at the Bonners Ferry Funeral Home, 6485 Harrison Street, Bonners Ferry.
He was one of 11 siblings, was born on September 3, 1928, to W.T. Stephens and Cora Elizabeth Scott.
Earl’s first job, at the age of 13, was working as a bus boy at the Farragut Naval Training Station. Then, at the age of 16, Earl moved to Boundary County and went to work peeling cedar poles, where he met Tootie Schroeder.
Earl and Tootie were married at the Hitching Post on August 23, 1947.
Earl hired on at the Moyie sawmill and worked there for 30 years. In 1983, during a strike, Earl went to work for Edwards Mill in St. Maries as their head sawyer, working there until he retired in 1993.
Earl and Tootie had six children: Julie, Mike, Pattie, Danny Lee, and six years later, Tim and then Ed. It wasn’t unusual to have so many people visit for the holidays, where sleeping bags would be stacked up like cord wood in the living room.
In the 70s he was elected the friendliest man in the friendliest town of Idaho. Earl was active in the Boundary County CB Club, where he utilized the nickname Polecat that he acquired from his cousin Bud Newton at a young age.
Earl was also active in the Friends of the Restorium and a Charter Member of the 3522 Eagles Aerie for many years.
Earl was an avid hunter, camper, fisherman and he valued time with his family. After retiring, Earl became an active fiddler, playing at the Restorium, the Extended Care Facility, the Gold Bar Ranch on upper Gold Creek and the Fairgrounds.
Earl was an accomplished carpenter who built his own house, made hope chests for family, built wooden trucks, trapezoidal cranes and other toys he made for his grandchildren or sold to fund his hobby.
Earl is preceded in death by his parents, siblings Jerry, Vernon, Jim and Ronnie Zielinski, Bobby Stephens and Polly McMurtry, sons Danny Lee and Edward Stephens, and grandchildren Christina Stone, Justin Stephens, Chase Stephens and Aimee Stephens Noles.
Earl is survived by his wife, Tootie Stephens, children Julie Schaffner, Mike Stephens, Patricia Stone and Tim Stephens, brothers Ray Zielinski, Paul Lowery and Merv Scott, sister Paula Devlin and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.