John Robert Stevenson died peacefully on June 29, 2014, surrounded by his daughters. He will be remembered for his playfulness and humor; for his affable nature; for his integrity; and for his steadfast devotion to family.
John embraced life with gratitude, ever mindful of it’s many gifts. Adopted by Charles and Mary Catherine Stevenson shortly after his birth on June 30, 1920, he often referred to himself as “the luckiest little boy in the world.” He grew up in Santa Barbara with the dream of flying, mowing runways at the Santa Barbara Airport in exchange for flying lessons.
A member of the WWII “Greatest Generation,” he was qualified in the B-17, B-25, C-47, C-87, C-46, AT-17 aircraft and flew C-109 and C-54 in the Asiatic Pacific Theatre of Operations. During the last year of the war, he bundled himself in a wool-lined leather cap and flight suit and flew supplies from India to Burma and China in the frigid, oxygen-deprived altitudes over “The Hump” (the Himalayas), earning the American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal.
After the war, he was one of the first ten pilots to be hired by the fledgling San Francisco based airline, Southwest Airways. Over the years and through various mergings, he flew with Pacific Air Lines, Air West and Hughes Air West, retiring as senior pilot in June, 1980. In the early years of his career, hopping from coastal town to coastal town, he would often open the wind wing of the DC-3, light up a cigar, and say to the co-pilot, “This is really livin’.” When not flying, John drove in an amateur status in Road Races throughout the West Coast in the 1950’s and 60’s.
John was a true gentleman who lived a long and full life, always attentive to the pilot’s attention to detail and timing. Until his sight and reflexes began to fail, he thrived on the excitement of ‘going fast’ – on motorcycles, in race cars or aircraft. He loved to fly, but the true love of his life was his wifeof 69 years, Alverna (Alvie), who preceded him in death in 2011. He is deeply loved and survived by his three daughters, Betsy Bazzani (Leonard) of Templeton, CA, Anne Krekelberg (Bob) of Bartlett, TN, and Catherine Wood (James) of Cupertino, CA, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He will be interred at Santa Barbara Cemetery in a family plot with his wife, parents and grandparents.
In lieu of flowers and in recognition of the caring staff of Sunny View, memorials gifts can be sent to: The Resident’s Council, Sunny View Retirement Community, 22445 Cupertino Road, Cupertino, CA 95014, with checks payable to “The Resident’s Council,” with a memo note to “Staff Appreciation Fund.”