Dr. Matthew J. Stephens, Jr. PhD Mar 31, 1931 - Jul 14, 2017
Dr. Matthew J. Stephens, Jr. PhD, passed away Friday, July 14, 2017. Born March 31, 1931, in Philadelphia, PA, to Matthew Stephens and Marion Morris Stephens, Matt was, as he liked to say, in his 87th year. He grew up in Drexel Hill and graduated from Upper Darby High School class of 1948 before going on to the University of Pennsylvania from which he ultimately received his PhD.
He received his BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952 and was Treasurer of his fraternity, Kappa Sigma. Matt then served as a First Lieutenant in the Army during the Korean War. He considered himself fortunate to be stationed in Munich and Paris during the war and loved to tell stories of his Army days. After the war he went to work for Arthur Andersen and Company in New York City, earning his CPA in 1957. He received the Arthur Andersen fellowship to return to the University of Pennsylvania for his MBA which he received in 1959 and his PhD in Finance 1964. He remained at Penn for his entire professional career. He taught for 45 years, receiving numerous awards, including the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. From 1972 to 1985 he served as Vice Dean of Wharton, Director of the Undergraduate Division.
Matt grew up in the depression often accompanying his mother to the movie theaters where she would demonstrate the new Nescafe freeze-dried coffee. He spent those Saturdays watching movies which translated to a lifelong love of films and stars of that era, particularly Wallace Beery, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, William Powell and others. He learned to drive a milk truck as his father had a delivery route and worked his way through college working for Abbott’s Dairies in their warehouse among other jobs.
Matt married Beryl Obermann, a church organist and choir director from Westerly RI, on August 22, 1959. They loved to travel, and supported the arts including the Philadelphia Orchestra. They revisited Paris and Munich, went on cruises, even taking one of the last flights on the Concorde and one of the final sailings of the QEII with his sister Marian and her husband.
In the summers, they would spend time on Martha’s Vineyard where they have a cottage.
Matt had a great love of history and was an avid reader of history, politics, mysteries, and poetry. One of the books he treasured was John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley because Matt liked to travel and meet people also. He had many stories of interesting people he met. In retirement he fulfilled a lifelong dream of driving across the United States. He was accompanied by his childhood friend Bill Petersen reminiscing as they toured places along the way.
He was a sports fan, particularly baseball and boxing. He frequently reminisced about Philadelphia Athletics games he had gone to as a child where he saw greats like Gehrig and Feller. He could always be counted on for his knowledge of sports trivia.
He loved the big band era of music especially Louis Jordan and was a great dancer of the Jitterbug. He said he learned because his sister and her friends were always practicing at the house and they needed someone to lead! He was also known for his rousing renditions of “Hey You’re Ugly”, “Sam You Made the Pants Too Long”, and “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”.
He is survived by his wife and two children, Matthew and Kathleen, 3 grandchildren, Matilda, Sean and Dylan Brown, who are forever grateful for his great stories and enthusiastic support, as well as 2 great-granddaughters, Lilianna and Alice Delano.
Donations may be made in his memory to the Helen Kate Furness Library or a local library of your choice.
There will be no services per his wishes. There will instead be a celebration of his life open to family and friends at the Concordville Inn on August 5th, 2017 at 12 noon.