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Pfeiffer University remembers Dr. Harold P. Stephenson

haroldstephenson1Pfeiffer University mourns the death of Dr. Harold P. Stephenson, professor emeritus of physics, who died Sat., Nov. 3, 2012.

Dr. Stephenson, who was a member of Pfeiffer's faculty from 1960 until he retired in 1990, served as chair, department of physics; associate professor and full professor of physics; and as a member of the Awards and Honors, Honorary Degrees, Visiting Scholars and Teacher Education committees. He chaired the United Way Fund and was president of Phi Delta Sigma Honor Society. He was named professor emeritus in 1992.

His undergraduate, graduate and doctoral experiences took place at Duke University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1947, master of arts in physics in 1949 and doctorate in physics in 1952. He graduated in 1943 from Reidsville High School in Rockingham County.

“Pfeiffer University has lost one of its greatest representatives,” said Dr. Mark McCallum, chair and professor, department of biology, and interim dean, division of arts and science. “His former students and colleagues will always remember him for his love of Pfeiffer and gift for teaching physics to undergraduate students.”

Prior to arriving at Pfeiffer University, Dr. Stephenson taught physics at Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Ill. and mechanical engineering at Duke University, Durham, N.C.; worked as a physicist for the Office of Ordnance Research (U.S. Army); and conducted research for the Applied Physics Lab, Johns Hopkins University. Professional affiliations included the American Association of Physics Teachers, National Science Teachers Association, American Association of University Professors and Phi Theta Kappa. Throughout his career, he published a number of research articles in physics and chemistry scholarly journals, including Illinois Academy of Science Transactions, Journal of the American Chemical Society and Journal of Chemical Physics.

Dr. Stephenson, who enjoyed opera, gardening and volunteering for his church, is survived by his wife, Sarah, and their children Ellen '81, who lives in Montana, and Mark '84, of Misenheimer.

A memorial service will be held on Wed., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m., Henry Pfeiffer Chapel on Pfeiffer's Misenheimer campus, 48380 US Hwy 52N. Memorial gifts may be directed to WDAV(89.9) FM radio,, whose programming is devoted to classical music. On Dec. 22, 2012, the anniversary of Dr. Stephenson's birth, WDAV-FM is holding a sponsorship day in Dr. Stephenson's honor.

Please leave your comments and memories below.

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Frank Martin 11/05/2012 (9:34 pm)  
My Professor No0  

Harold Stephenson was one of the biggest influences on my life. A good and kind man who taught me to love Physics and teaching. I am forever grateful! Your Student

John Jordan 11/07/2012 (11:07 am)  
Harold Stephenson No0  

"Doc" Stephenson was my physics teacher and academic advisor 1953-57 at Illinois Wesleyan University, one of my most beloved mentors from those days. He and his wife Sarah--one of my IWU classmates!--have remained lifelong friends of my wife and me, with visits in each other's homes, and most recently in Albemarle in April, 2010. A high point was my being given an honorary degree by Pfeiffer in December, 1973, an event that was surely the result of Harold's influence at Pfeiffer along with my work then with President Doug Sasser. Harold was such a thoughtful and dedicated teacher and friend of many of my classmates from the 1950s and down through all his years. I shall always be thankful that I have known him and benefitted from his deep faith, brilliant mind, and warm friendship.

Sharon McCrea 11/07/2012 (9:42 pm)  
Dr. Stephenson No0  

Doctor Stephenson is a Pfeiffer luminary who will be greatly missed. I did not have him as an instructor but his presence was undeniable part of the Pfeiffer difference for many and he was known by all students because he cared for the students. Peace be with the Stephenson family and with the Pfeiffer community during this time of great loss.

Chip Gore 12/11/2012 (1:17 am)  
Dr. Stephenson No0  

I was in Dr. Stephenson's Astronomy class at Pfeiffer in 1977. He was a kind and brillant man. A great professor.

Martha Armstrong 03/08/2013 (5:57 pm)  
Dr. Harold Stephenson No0  

Dr. Stephenson was my 2nd cousin and, although we had lost touch over the years, I still have very fond memories of his visits to our home. When I was a little girl, I always thought he was the smartest person in the world. I am sorry to learn of his passing and send condolences to his family as well as the Pfieffer family that he loved so much.


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