Peabody, MA — Robert Fyfe Stephens, 89, of Peabody, Mass., formerly of Marblehead, Mass., died peacefully on Sunday, November 24, 2013, at his residence, with his family by his side. He was the devoted husband of Dorothy (Lawrence) Stephens.
He was born and raised in Michigan, and was the son of the late John H. and Marjorie (Wells) Stephens. In 1942 during WWII, he entered the U.S. Army, serving four years until his discharge in 1946. He attended Rutgers University, where he studied pre-medicine, received his bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University, and his master's degree and doctorate from the University of Michigan in political science.
Robert started working with the U.S. State Department, Washington D.C., as a Foreign Affairs Officer in 1953. He served as Vice Consul and Cultural Affairs Officer in Nairobi, Kenya and later, as Chief of the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Bureau of Cultural Affairs. In 1964, he became associate director of the East African Studies program at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, and in 1969, the assistant director of the International Development Studies Program with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He became president of the Potomac Research Institute in Washington, D.C., in 1978, and in 1994, began working as a development associate with the School of Education at Boston University.
He devoted his life to International Education in Africa and Indonesia. His upcoming book, “The Kenyan Student Airlifts to America: An Educational Odyssey 1959 – 1961," will be released in mid-December, 2013, by East African Educational Publishers. Proceeds will go to the Kelly Elizabeth Stephens Endowment Scholarship Fund at Boston University School of Education.
Robert enjoyed sailing, tennis, squash, painting, listening to classical music, traveling, and attending family gatherings. For many years, he owned and operated the Antilles Yachting Services in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He also sailed on Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Chesapeake Bay, and in the waters around Marblehead.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; a son and daughter-in-law, Robert F. Jr. and Gail Stephens of Mattapoisett, Mass.; a daughter and son-in-law, Laurie Stephens and Douglas Ward of Hood River, Ore.; his six grandchildren, Kerry Martin (married to Brad Martin), Robert Tate (married to Marie Tate), Grace and Marina Stephens, and Ryan and Casey Ward; eight great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was the father of the late Cathleen Stephens-Ellis of Virginia, and Kelly Stephens of Indonesia; and brother of the late John W. Stephens.
ARRANGEMENTS: A private family service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in his memory to the Kelly Elizabeth Stephens Endowment Scholarship Fund, Boston University School of Education, Two Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215. Assisting the family is the Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home, 82 Lynn St., Peabody, Mass.