Thursday, April 10, 2003
Louis "Red" Stephens Played in NFL, Opened Home to Children
By Mark Smith
Journal Staff Writer
To Louis "Red" Stephens, football was the ultimate "team" game.
Stephens, a former NFL player, was a standout offensive guard on the 1951 San Francisco Dons squad one of the greatest teams to never play in a bowl game.
The undefeated, untied Dons were invited to a bowl game as long as they left Ollie Matson and Burl Toler at home.
Matson and Toler were black. USF said no thanks.
"They wanted to go to a bowl game real bad," says Leonard Stephens, Louis' brother. "But they were proud to turn it down. They were hoppin' mad about it, but proud."
Louis Stephens, a resident of Placitas the past 37 years, died in his sleep at the age of 72 early Sunday morning.
Stephens graduated from USF in 1952, becoming one of nine players from that 1951 squad to play in the NFL.
He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals but served a two-year stint in the Army. When he returned to the states, he was cut by the Cardinals but picked up by Washington.
Leonard Stephens said his brother was All-Pro honorable mention in 1955 and 1960, retiring in 1960 after six years with the Redskins.
Former USF teammate Bill Henneberry said Stephens was a standout person.
"I think the first thing that all our teammates would say about him is what a wonderful person he is," Henneberry said. "... He was always a gentle, easygoing guy off the field. He was a big teddy bear."
Stephens, nicknamed "Red" for his hair, was an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1960-63 and scouted for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1963-66. He later worked for State Farm Insurance, retiring in 1995.
Leonard Stephens said his brother moved nearly 40 years ago to Albuquerque, the city Louis' wife of 42 years, Rosemary "Chickie" Stephens, called home.
The couple relocated to Placitas a few years later where they were a big hit with the local children.
"Chickie saved all her money from baby-sitting, and they put a pool in their yard," Leonard Stephens said. "It was the only pool in the community, so they opened it to all the kids.
"Those kids are now adults, who bring their kids to swim."
Leonard Stephens said his brother spent much of his free time working with youths in various sports in Bernalillo and was very active in his church. He is credited with reviving the San Antonio Mission in Placitas, which went unused for a number of years.
Besides his wife, Stephens is survived by four children Michelle Stephens of Oakland, Calif., Eileen Stephens of Castle Pines, Colo., William Stephens and Patrick Stephens, both of Albuquerque; and two other brothers LeRoy Stephens of Oakland and Lyle Stephens of Paradise, Calif.
The rosary is today at 6 p.m. at San Antonio Mission in Placitas.
Mass will be celebrated Friday at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Bernalillo.
The family requests that no flowers be sent. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to San Antonio Mission Building Fund, c/o James Conder, 22 Puesta de Sol, Placitas, NM 87043.
The Associated Press contributed to this report