Jack and Barbara Stevens - It's Been A Great Life!
Shortly after sitting down at Jack and Barbara Stevens’ kitchen table and starting my interview Jack said, “Norm we’ve had such an amazing life and we are so very thankful.” By the end of the interview I agreed 100 percent!
Barbara Peterson, a Manson girl was born at her grandparent’s home in Chelan on March 10 1928. The Peterson’s have been in Manson since 1921 and her grandfather started the Chelan Telephone Company and her mother Dorothy Peterson played piano during silent movies in the Ruby Theater. Barbara grew up in Manson and currently lives on the same property her father Art Peterson farmed for many years. She remembers her father fondly and was amazed at all he accomplished in his life with only an eighth grade education. Barbara received her education in the Manson School District and graduated in 1946 as Class Valedictorian, Apple Blossom Queen and Lake Chelan Rodeo Queen. After high school she attended Washington State University and graduated with a degree in Hotel Administration.
Jack was born and raised in the Seattle area and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1945. Jack enlisted in the Army Aircorps on March 18, 1944 before he was 18 years old, he signed up before graduation. He was sent to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi for their Flight Training School. Unfortunately for Jack the war was winding down, which meant the need for pilots decreased, the class was canceled. Jack dreamed of flying and in 1947 he earned his Private Pilot’s license on his own.
Life change for Jack and Barbara on the 4th of July 1949 when Jack was invited to a barbecue at Al Peterson’s home, of course Barbara was there. It didn’t take very long to figure out they REALLY liked each other.
They spent the next three days getting to know each other and on June 17, 1950 they were married at the Methodist Church in Manson. They moved into their current home and Jack went to work for Barbara’s dad for the next several years.
Art Peterson’s dream was to build a golf course at Stehekin. As you can imagine this was a huge undertaking that started with installing a hydroelectric plant. Jack said, “We spent eight summers and two winters in Stehekin helping Art. The years we didn’t stay in Stehekin during the winter I worked for Boeings in Quality Control. Unfortunately the golf course was not to be.” Jack later lobbied to develop the North Cascades National Park through the North Cascades Conservation Council, an organization he co-founded. Through that process Jack met with Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson who helped make it happen.
Jack and Barbara packed up their family that included three daughters and a son and moved to Bellevue, Washington in 1962. Jack worked for the Boeing Company, became involved in real estate and then opened Steven’s Associates Construction.
During this time Barbara went back to school and secured her teaching degree and taught grades three through five at A.G. Bell Elementary School in Kirkland for 18 years.
Left from Top: Debbie, Craig, Kerry, Barbara, Stacy and Jack
Back in 1971, Seattle was heavily dependent on Boeing for jobs, and the company had cut more than 60,000 of them. Unemployment was at 13 percent, more than double the national average. The famous sign, “Will the last person leaving Seattle…..turn out the lights” gained national attention. For most people in the area this was a negative time but for Jack and his company it was a huge opportunity. Jack says, “The banks were holding the paper on many homes that builders walked away from and my company was able to finish over 225 homes and help sell them.” Jack was a hero in the banker’s eyes.
When Peoples Bank decided to build a new 24 story bank building in downtown Seattle in 1973 Jack was put on the payroll to help as he was a proven winner. Peoples Bank required a college degree for anyone serving in upper management, which Jack did not have. The Board held a special meeting and Jack was appointed Assistant Vice President and shortly thereafter Vice President and Manager of Real Estate Division of Peoples National Bank of Washington. One of his memorial assignments was going to Alaska and merging three different banks into one, the Alliance Bank.
Jack has always been very active in the community serving as Commander, Star Sutherland Jr. Post of the American Legion, President Recreation Unlimited, co-founder of North Cascades Conservation Council and served on the Membership Committee of the Washington Athletic Club.
The Stevens moved back to Manson in 1989 after Barbara’s dad passed away and took over the property and the J & B Stevens Orchards. In 1994 they purchased the building where the Chelan Valley Inn sits today. They did a complete remodel and opened the Wapato Point Village Inn and operated it for 19 ½ years.
Besides their four children they have nine grandsons, three granddaughter and six great grandchildren, a wonderful family for sure. Both Barbara and Jack love living in Manson and cannot imagine living anywhere else. They have attended North Shore Bible Church since the early 1990’s and love it there. Jack said, “We love the people and I’ve been part of a wonderful bible study filled with great men in our community.” Barbara says, “I enjoy Pastor Rayment’s sermons every Sunday. He is the best speaker I’ve ever heard. I’m memorized each Sunday!”
Before I left Jack wanted to show me his pride and joy, a 1921 Model T that is fully restored. Barbara remembers with great fondest riding in the chariot in the Apple Blossom Parade. I thank Jack and Barbara for sharing their exciting life with me…….and you!
By Norm Manly