Charles Stephens, 59

SOUTH WHITLEY — Charles Lee Stephens, 59, of Bradenton, Fla., died Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, after becoming suddenly ill.He was born Feb. 13, 1952, in Fort Wayne, a son of Don Wesley “Joe” and Mary Louise (Weber) Stephens.His formative years were spent in South Whitley. He graduated from South Whitley High School in 1970.Along with owning his own business, working for Tires Plus and Hires, he was a long-time employee of Goodyear Tire. While living in Bradenton, Fla., he was a member of the Moosehead Lodge 1223. During his life he was an avid fisher, kayaker, golfer and boater.Surviving relatives include two sons, Charles Ryan Stephens of Champaign Ill. and Brandon Stephens of San Francisco; his parents, Joe and Mary Stephens of South Whitley; three brothers, Don (Bev) Stephens of Fort Wayne, John Stephens of Crystal Beach Fla. and Michael (Lisa) Stephens of Columbia City; and a sister, Barbara Stephens of Key Largo Fla.He was a humble and generous man, a caring son, and a loving father. He was a strong soul, and he will be missed by all those who were blessed by knowing him.We are thankful for the time we had with him and know that he is now in a better place.The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Smith & Sons Miller Chapel, South Whitley. The visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.Preferred memorials are to the Mayo Clinic to aid in their research to understand and treat Cardiovascular and Pulmonary disease.Condolences may be sent to