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Elyria High alumni couple creates $5,000 scholarship

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Devotion and dedication to family and community always have been the main focus of Dr. Robert Stevenson and his wife, Eleanor.

Next week, the first annual scholarship in their name will be awarded to a worthy Elyria High student. The $5,000 award is the largest given in Lorain County and the first winner will be announced Thursday at an EHS awards assembly.

"Bob and I are so humbled by all this," Eleanor Stevenson said from their home in North Carolina. "It is a pure joy that we are a part of this scholarship. We loved Elyria - still do. We have so many fond memories of Elyria."

The Stevenson Scholarship Fund has been established through the Community Foundation of Lorain County using donations received from family and friends. It was started by their youngest son, Gary, who is the former president of OnSport in Raleigh, N.C., and is now a consultant with the Wasserman Media Group.

The foundation was founded in 1980, initiated by Eric and Evan Nord, who - along with a group of local business people - raised $1.5 million to start the foundation.

Currently, the foundation administers nearly $80 million.

"We give away $4 million a year in the way of grants and scholarships," said Margo Hirth, development officer of the Community Foundation. "The Stevenson family grew up here and went to school here. They feel very much a part of the community. They really had a presence in this community."

Graduating seniors who have attended Elyria High School for at least two years and have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.1 are eligible for the scholarship. They must pursue a four-year degree at the undergraduate level at an accredited academic institution in the continental United States.

They must also have been active in a variety of high school activities and shown leadership character traits. Strong consideration will be given to students who participated in varsity sports and chorus, band, orchestra or theater. Applicants should have a history of community service and be open-minded toward racial, religious and cultural issues. Finally, students should have been employed during their high school years.

The Stevensons both graduated from Elyria High in 1940.

Robert Stevenson was born in Elyria. Eleanor was born in Tiffin but moved to Elyria at age 4. They lived in Elyria until 1980, when they first moved to the Vermilion Lagoons before moving to Cary, N.C., in 1986. They'll soon celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary.

Robert Stevenson, after serving in the Coast Guard through World War II, opened his chiropractic office in 1948 and continued to serve athletes from all over Lorain County up to his retirement in 1986. He was honored with the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame "Distinguished Service" award in 1995.

"I remember one time visiting his office to help me with a nagging injury," said Gary, the youngest of his four children. "I saw Jeff Solomon (a player on rival Admiral King) sitting in the waiting room and I asked him what he was doing there. That's my dad. He would help anyone. I don't think I missed a game due to injury."

While Stevenson was known mostly for helping Elyria High athletes, many area schools were familiar with his practice.

"Lorain, Admiral King, Midview," Dr. Stevenson said. "All the athletes from around the county came to my office. I enjoyed doing it - giving back to the community."

The Stevensons have four children - Roger, a 1964 graduate of Elyria, Randy (1966), Jann (1970) and Gary (1974). They now have 12 grandchildren.

Roger was the quarterback on the 1962 and 1963 football teams and point guard on the 1964 basketball team that qualified for the state tournament. Randy was the first Lorain County Golden Helmet winner in football and played a key role on the Buckeye Conference champion and regional semifinalist basketball team. Jann, now married to former Elyrian Dick Armstrong, was captain of the cheerleaders and was homecoming queen her senior year. Gary played both football and basketball. He was a member of the 1973 state semifinalists. Both Randy and Gary are enshrined in the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame.

"They were all very competitive children," Eleanor Stevenson said. "I remember when Roger was young and Bob would wrestle with him. He would never give in. That's the way they all were on the field or the basketball court, but off the field, they were the nicest kids. I'm very proud of them."

Robert Stevenson served on the Elyria Parks and Recreation board from 1953 to 1965 - when all the city pools and recreation centers were built. He presided over the board for five years. He also was on the Elyria school board from 1966 to 1974, serving as president for two school years.

He's been a lifelong member of the Elyria Rotary Club and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award in 1984 by Rotary International. He served as president of the local Rotary in 1962 and 1963. Stevenson has served as a trustee for the Washington Avenue Church of Christ and was chairman when the church built its present facility in 1953. He's also been past chairman of the Elyria Chamber of Commerce and was director of the Elyria YMCA when it attracted 1,225 new members.

He was appointed to the Ohio Board of Chiropractic Examiners from 1978 to 1986 by then governor James Rhodes.

Eleanor Stevenson attended both Baldwin-Wallace and Bowling Green in the 1940s before taking a break from school to marry Robert Stevenson and raise their children. She graduated from Kent State in 1969 with the distinction as a Kappa Delta Pi Honor Education Society member (must have a GPA of 3.5 or better).

She taught in both Avon and Elyria Schools (Cascade and McKinley) with an emphasis on remedial reading and was a lifetime member of the Elyria Women's Club.

And of all the athletes in the family, only one boasts two holes-in-one on the golf course. That would be Eleanor Stevenson, of course.

"That's exactly two more than any of us in the family," Gary Stevenson said. "That's one record she's really proud of."

The family is having a gathering of friends next week at the Elyria Women's Club when the Stevensons return for the scholarship presentation.

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.

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