William "Billy" Stevens
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William "Billy" Stevens, one-of-a-kind pillar of Contoocook society, died peacefully in his sleep early on the morning of 17 November 2019. He was nearly 69 years old.
Billy was in Hopkinton High School's class of 1969. From his earliest years, he was an avid reader, starting with comic books, then graduating to anything he could get his hands on. So often he could be found by himself, reading, finding escape and adventure on the pages. Billy served as Chaplain for the Contoocook Grange. He worked at Beech Hill Farm in Hopkinton and at National Fiberglass in Contoocook. He also did other odd jobs here and there, and in his spare time, stood in front of his house by his flag collection, waving to passers by.
Billy possessed and was able to instantly recall an astounding body of information. In high school, his teacher Mr. Parr allowed the other students to test Billy's knowledge of history, but neither the students nor Mr. Parr himself could stump him. He was particularly adept with military history, especially concerning the Civil War and WW2. Billy could rattle off the names, addresses, birthdays, family trees, physical descriptions, and ornery antics of more locals than you can imagine. He could also recite poetry and song lyrics and sayings, though some of those sayings were of his own construction. His memory remained sharp and clear until the day he died.
Billy could guess a person's weight with impressive accuracy, whether or not such a request had been made. Billy did not have what they now call an "inside voice," so nothing he ever said was subtle or a secret. Billy was neither a drinker nor a smoker, but he never met a cookie (or piece of cake, or pie, or - let's face it - any food) he did not like. He may or may not have kept a den of foxes happy and well-fed in his yard. Well, okay. He did.
Nothing made Billy happier than the Hopkinton State Fair. As he spent his whole life directly next door to the fairgrounds, he was on hand from the start of set up to the end of take down, year after year. He was especially fond of the horse pulling and oxen teams. He was also a mainstay at the horse racetrack, until that event shut down. The fair allowed him to catch up with many familiar faces, as well as to make new friends. Every year, as the fair drew to a close, you'd find him lingering around Nelson's Fudge stand, or Angelino's, or any number of food stalls, just in case the respective proprietors were burdened with unsold inventory. The fair will not be the same without him.
Billy enjoyed the dances held at the American Legion, and was a regular at Sunday morning Odd Fellows breakfasts. Tommy and Bev Johnson made a practice of earmarking an extra dozen donuts specifically for Billy, so they would not run out for the other diners.
Although Billy was treated quite unkindly at times throughout his life, he consistently met the world with a bright smile and a friendly greeting. Yes, there were moments when it was necessary to redirect his commentary toward more socially appropriate topics, but anybody who knew him will confirm that he was entirely devoid of guile or malice.
After 62 years on Kearsarge Avenue, Billy moved to the Austin Home in Webster, which became his new home in 2013. He received thoughtful, loving care from the staff there, particularly from administrator Stephanie Orlando. In return, he contributed life and levity, drawing conversation and interaction from the other residents, some of whom had been fairly withdrawn before his arrival.
Billy was predeceased by his parents, Cora Woods Stevens and Harold Dunbar Stevens, and several generations of old-timers, so many of whom he actively referenced in conversations until the end of his life. Billy is survived by his cousins: Linda Stevens Irving of Concord, Judy and Ed Stevens of Contoocook, Beverly Stevens and Jack McGregor of Concord, Jane Stevens and George Bean of Concord, Susan Stevens of Penacook, Shirley Stevens and Harry Johnson of Salisbury, and Bob and Donna Stevens of Chichester. He will be greatly missed by adoring friends and their families, who supported and advocated for him throughout his life: Faith Duclos and Tim Goodwin of Chichester, Robert "Buddy" Duclos of Henniker, Tim Courser of Warner, and Susan Lawless, Lynda Kimball, and Ted Roche of Contoocook. There is not room on this page to list everyone who mourns losing Billy. If anyone was omitted from this list, it was unintentional.
Please join us to celebrate Billy's life on Sunday, 8 December, at 10 am, at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 513 Park Avenue, Contoocook. In the spring, he will be interred with his mother, as he wanted.
If you would like to help out with the expenses of putting Billy to rest, an account has been set up, listed under FINAL CARE FOR BILLY STEVENS at the Contoocook branch of TD Bank. Should any donations end up exceeding his total expenses, that money will be donated to the Hopkinton Food Pantry, in Billy's name.
To honor Billy's memory, let us all keep in mind that there is more than one way to be brilliant.
Also, if you can only have one but not the other, choose a good heart over an impeccable appearance. Of course, try for both, but you get the point. If friends were money, Billy was a rich man.
Friends & Family
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