Benton Lanier Stevens, 76, passed from this earth to his Heavenly reward on Jan. 7, 2018. Lanier was born to Madison Roy Stevens and Hallie Mae Benton on June 11, 1941, in Wharton. He married Betty Jo Farris on Jan. 27, 1962. They would have celebrated 56 years of marriage this month.
He is preceded in death by his parents, M. Roy and Hallie; and his brothers, Eldred Stevens, Texas Hulan (Bubba) Stevens, and R.J. Stevens.
He is survived by wife Betty of Madisonville; a daughter, Karen Altom and husband Wes of Huntsville; son Ben Stevens and wife Shannon of Forney; son Dan Stevens and wife Kelli of Abilene; and son Jon Stevens and wife Rebecca of Madisonville. He is also survived by grandchildren Abby Boyd and husband Ryan of Abilene; Marshall Altom and fiancée Kathryn Miles of Huntsville; Summer, Sawyer and Sydney Stevens of Forney; Mackenzie, Jackson and Jenna Stevens of Abilene; and Hallie, Sam, Luke and Jacey Stevens of Madisonville. In addition, he is survived by sister Nancy Page and husband Patrick of Madisonville. There are also a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends who loved him.
Lanier grew up the son, grandson and great-grandson of ministers. As is typical of ministry work, the family moved several times, and he graduated from high school in Haynesville, La. A big football player, he attended college at Stephen F. Austin University on a football scholarship. He quickly realized he wasn’t quite large enough for college football, and when his brother Eldred asked him to lead singing for him at a gospel meeting, he left football behind. An excellent golfer, he was offered a sponsorship by Spalding while in college. The truth of his dad’s counsel about there being a better place to spend Sundays struck a chord with Lanier, and he devoted his life to ministry and the care of his family.
He met Betty Jo Farris on the steps of the North Madison Church of Christ in Madisonville and said he married the prettiest black-headed girl he ever laid eyes on. He had a desire to stay in one location and not move his family as much as he had as a child. In 1966, he and Betty moved back to Madison County where they served churches for more than 50 years. No one loved Madison County and the people of Madison County more than Lanier. His favorite saying was, “When you leave Madison County, you’re just camping out.”
The only time he enjoyed being away from Madison County was while singing with The Sounds of Glory gospel quartet, of which he was a founding member. This ministry through music was a part of his life for more than 25 years.
Lanier always felt that being bi-vocational and working in the community allowed him to reach more people. For more than 30 years, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a rural carrier. He was a gospel-singing, guitar-picking, soul-winning mailman. In his “spare time,” he built houses and did construction work. Anyone who knew him knew he would break into song at a moment’s notice — whether you asked him to or not!
His final day was a Sunday spent doing what he loved — preaching, enjoying a church fellowship meal, a little football on TV, and a nap. Then the Lord called him home.
Lanier will be laid to rest in the Midway Cemetery. The funeral service will be Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 1 p.m. at Madisonville Christian Fellowship. Visitation with the family will be held Tuesday, Jan. 9, from 5-7 p.m. at Madisonville Christian Fellowship. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Midway Church of Christ, P.O. Box 216, Midway, TX 75852, where they will be used to help those in need.
Arrangements are in the care of Madisonville Funeral Home in Madisonville, Texas. www.madisonvillefuneralhome.com.