Jim Stevens was a true mountain man
To the Editor:
Recently, we lost a true mountain man. You may have known him as Jim Stevens or maybe just “Poss,” but for me it was “Mr.” Stevens.
At first he was my boss, but soon he became my close friend for more than 40 years. He was one of those few people that, regardless of the circumstances, you always gave the title “Mr.” or “Dr.” out of respect.
Mr. Stevens was born in Possum Holler, located in Jackson County, in 1932. When he was seven, his father died, leaving behind a wife and nine children. Times were tough, but Mr. Stevens was tougher.
After finishing high school, “Poss” received a basketball scholarship to Western Carolina, but his time at college was interrupted by a three-year stint in the United States Army. Afterwards, upon receiving his diploma and teaching certificate, he took a job at Spalding Junior High where he coached and taught P.E. He later returned to Western Carolina to obtain his master’s and education specialist’s degree. Mr. Stevens began his career as a teacher and principal, retiring as associate superintendent of Haywood County Schools.
He continued to teach all of us lessons along the way. Those of us who worked with him learned the importance of being on time, showing up to work, making sure our students were clothed and fed, and especially that they were encouraged. His command of the English language was stellar and he corrected all of us if ours was not.
Jim Stevens also taught us the importance of giving back to our community as he served on various boards including the Haywood Community College Board of Trustees, the Haywood Regional Medical Center board, Mountain Projects and Folkmoot. He was also a county commissioner, always giving his time to make our lives better.
I will miss this man that I called my friend. I will miss his phone calls, his special delivery of candy as I split wood, his enthusiasm as he talked about UNC basketball, his sense of humor and sometimes sarcasm, his gruffness, his “truth telling,” his advice and, most importantly, his friendship. However, I cannot forget him as all I have to do is look around our county to see his “touch” as he left this world on October 13 a better place than he entered it — an example for all of us.