The importance of grandparents and parents in the lives of their grandchildren and their children cannot be overstated – a fact Debbie Stephens knows firsthand.
Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Stephenson moved to La Junta with her family when she was 16, but soon after she graduated from high school, she moved back. The power of drawing? Her grandparents.
“My grandmother was like my world,” Stephen said. “She could play the piano — if you could sing, she’d play. She’d play and we’d both sing and my grandfather would get these tapes and he’d record us.
Back in Texas with her beloved grandparents, Stephen reunites with her longtime friend (who was just down the road) Larry.
Their first romance was with Stephens sunbathing in the back of her father’s yellow 1956 Cadillac while Larry and his friends drove.
“Larry said to his friend, ‘I’m going to marry that girl one day,’ and he did,” Stephens smiles.
“Just so I can drive the Cadillac,” Larry yelled mischievously.
Two days after Larry returned from the army, the two met again and soon began dating. In the year They married in 1970 and two precious daughters, Crystal and Amber, were born in the following years.
In the year In 1973, an opportunity arose for the family to move to Cañon City, and since they had been here many times and absolutely loved the area, they came without a second thought. The rest is history.
Larry worked in a modular manufacturing plant for years, and Stephen jumped into family life and pursued a successful realtor career.
Stephens initially worked as a home health aide at County Nursing before entering a career in real estate. It turned out to be an amazing job.
She has spent 36 years as a Realtor, 35 of them with Coldwell Banker/Fremont Realty, and has known hundreds of families in Fremont County.
“I loved real estate. It’s great to finally find the right home for someone — and they’re really happy.” “You call them a month later and they’re still happy,” Stephen recalls fondly.
In the year During the 2022 Royal Cliff Realtors Annual Planting and Awards Banquet, Stephens was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Longtime friend Joanne Grenard paid tribute to Stephens with joy and tears as she reminisced about a decade of nearly four decades.
Their daughters attended Lincoln, Washington and Skyline elementary schools, as well as CCHS, and the family kept busy participating in band and varsity competitions.
“Both girls were captains of the teams so it’s a full back yard of girls we love. We tried to be very involved,” Stephens said.
The couple built their dream home in October 1994 and enjoyed drinking coffee on the back porch and watching Stephen’s chickens roost peacefully in the grass.
In October 2021, the test of a lifetime came when the pair came back with the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.
Their daughters, who live in Castle Rock and Arvada, came together to meet their parents’ needs. Although Larry was ill, Stephens’ condition worsened and hospitalization was the only option. On Halloween, Stephens was admitted to St Thomas More Hospital – and didn’t want to see her beloved husband for another 17 days.
“The doctor in the ICU told Larry that they needed to feed me and the only way they could was to put me on a ventilator,” Stephens said.
The incredibly difficult decision was made to put Stephen on a ventilator and the family prayed and hoped for his recovery. She spent five weeks at St. Thomas More Hospital, but the day came when she came off the ventilator and began a long recovery.
The couple’s 50th wedding anniversary was on December 10, but visitors were limited to one a day as Stephen was in the lockdown Covid wing.
But that didn’t phase Larry.
After careful planning, Stephen found a way to get her nails done before their anniversary visit—a full dress, a bouquet of flowers, and her favorite drink (Diet Cherry Vanilla Sonic Dr. Pepper).
“Smiling from ear to ear, he walked in with these flowers and a card and my favorite blue dress,” Stephens said with tears in her eyes.
Stephens came home on New Year’s Eve to find that her family had just finished building a ramp for her to get in and out of in a wheelchair. She spent several weeks at a rehabilitation center in Denver and gradually progressed from taking four steps at a time to 250 steps at a time. She attributed her recovery to worldwide prayers and the grace of her Lord and Savior.
“One woman at the rehab center told me I restored her faith in God,” Stephens said, reflecting on her experience. “I am truly humbled.”
She returned home to provide joint support for her daughters and their husbands, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild (and a great-grandchild on the way). The family has really pulled together to make her recovery as easy as possible and although it hasn’t been an easy journey, she is happy to be home.
“I will tell my experiences to anyone who will listen,” she said. “My daughter said it was to the glory of God that you were healed, and I think she was right.