Cherle Ross Stephenson died peacefully at Westgate Villa in San Jose on February 1, 2018, two weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday at parties with family and friends. Cherle was born on January 16, 1918, in Alexander, North Dakota, the daughter of Clarence Tellefson and Mary Dunlava Tellefson. She was the beloved wife of James Blackwood Stephenson, who predeceased her in 1984 after 44 years of marriage. The couple built a life for their family in Campbell after moving to California from Iowa in 1953.
Cherle is survived by her son Jim (Marcia) of North Vancouver, BC; daughter Karen of San Jose; son John (Joanne) of Discovery Bay; and niece Mary Lee Olson (Bill) of San Jose, all partners on the caregiving team. Cherle leaves behind grandchildren Eric Stephenson, Adam Stephenson, Jared Ring (Michelle), Alyson Caskey (Joe), Emily Horne (Andrew); and two great-granddaughters: Jaden Ring-Robinson and Charlotte Ring.
A gifted seamstress, creative teacher, and tireless family historian, Cherle graduated from Iowa State College with a B.Sc. in Home Economics in 1940. Legend has it that she met future husband Jim while shopping for sewing supplies in the Stephenson family store in Ames, Iowa. After the family had resettled in the Santa Clara Valley, Cherle continued her education at San Jose State and qualified for a California teaching credential. She taught a variety of subjects, but mostly courses in homemaking, to middle-school children in the Palo Alto and Campbell school districts. After a 25-year teaching career, she led classes in writing family history for seniors.
On vacations, she and Jim enjoyed travelling in their camper around the US and exploring Europe and Japan with friends. As a widow on her own, she continued to travel, mastered new techniques on her loom, and sewed thousands of garments for homeless children. Cherle was a long-term member of Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose and a member of Daughters of Norway. She will always be remembered for encouraging others to pursue higher education, even in the last hours of her life. Memorial service at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1550 Meridian Avenue, San Jose, at 11:00 a.m. on February 20, 2018. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a scholarship fund of your choice.