MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — When Bettye Dove thinks of her late grandson, Jarvis Stephens, she is overwhelmed with a wide variety of emotions — everything from a sense of immense pride to a nearly debilitating sadness.
Stephens, a Lumberton native, died on March 2, 2016, at the age of 32 — a loss that left a gaping hole not only in his biological family, but in his professional family as well.
He was my heart,” said Dove. “I’ve missed him terribly, just as the rest of his family, co-workers and friends have this past year.”
Stephens was the son of Edgar and Kimberly Stephens. After a few years in Robeson County, the family moved to Tennessee and, eventually, to Myrtle Beach.
Stephens took a job with Starwood Vacations as a sales consultant in Myrtle Beach, and quickly established himself as one of the company’s top salesmen. According to John Rye, the company’s in-house sales manager, Stephens had a great effect on fellow employees.
“We never really know how much we touch people,” Rye said in a recent talk with company employees, “and I know that even Jarvis didn’t realize the impact of his actions.”
After Stephens’ death, Rye and the Starwood Vacations staff wanted to do something to honor his memory. They established an annual company award named the Jarvis Stephens Award that will go to the employee who makes the biggest difference — not necessarily as a sales person — but in life.
Rye said everyone has a birth year and death date, but it’s those years that are part of “the dash” that make the real difference.
“(The dash) represents the life we live,” Rye told the employees recently. “Of all those I have been blessed to know on this Earth, I am honored to stand here today and say that I know for sure, although Jarvis’ years were few, his life was full.”
Last month, at a Starwood Vacations ceremony, the first Jarvis Stephens Award — which some have already dubbed “The Blue Award” — was presented to a co-worker of Stephens, Jim Clint Boazman.
“John Rye had the whole room in tears when he presented our first-ever Jarvis Stephens Award,” said Betty Billingsly in a Facebook comment. “Congratulations Clint Boazman.
Another Facebook post, from Victoria Rieke, stated: “Jarvis would have been so humble and grateful … Clint, he loved his friends, especially you.”
There are numerous other posts applauding Boazman and remembering what Stephens meant to them. But it was the ending of Rye’s talk to the employees that might stick with Stephens’ co-workers most.
“Here is what I know about Jarvis. He had that something extra. We all saw it (and) that is why we are here,” he said. “If Jarvis were speaking to you this afternoon, I think he would say to you: ‘Yes, we are all ordinary, but what are you doing with your something extra?’”
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.