McCreary County volunteer passes after lengthy illness
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Stephens served on McCrearyFest, co-founded Moonshiners Run Car Show, and helped with genealogy
McCreary County lost an integral part of the community with last week’s passing of Paula Stephens. As the sixty year old wife of Mike Stephens of Stephens Towing, Paula was known for her enthusiasm, kindness, and generosity.
Always active in the community, Paula previously served on the McCrearyFest Board and played an important role, once even helping to bring the country music group, Shenandoah, to perform in concert at the annual festival. She had also previously assisted with WinterFest and Banquet of Blessings.
An avid car enthusiast, Paula (along with her husband) was co-owner and co-founder of McCreary County’s Moonshiners Run Car Show, an event which brought 700 participating cars to McCreary County. The annual car show continued to grow until Paula’s illness forced the family to sideline the event. Paula’s daughter, Stacey, credits her mother for encouraging the popular pin-up contest which, along with the Moonshiners Ball, became unique features of the car show event.
“She loved bringing events to the community,” Stacey shared.
Former McCrearyFest President Shane Gilreath noted Paula’s tenacity and hard work when it came to accomplishing goals for her community.
“Paula loved McCreary County and was a consummate worker on its behalf,” Gilreath said. “When she made up her mind about something, she possessed an admirable fortitude and was completely unyielding until she brought the dream to fruition. In the history of the organization and certainly in the years I was at the helm, she may be the hardest worker McCrearyFest ever saw. She dreamed big, fought big, and accomplished big and her legacy will be in what she gave back, her amazing vision and fortitude, and the strength she instilled in her loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are certainly with her family.”
Additionally, Paula at one time served as dispatcher for the McCreary County Sheriff’s Office and operated Choo Choo Daddio’s, a vintage clothing shop.
Paula also had a passion for genealogy and helped many families with genealogical research. She submitted records to Genealogy.com and founded the popular Facebook page, McCreary County Families Past and Present, sharing historical information and obituaries with approximately 4,000 members and others in the public.
Paula shared her love of genealogy with her grandchildren, inspiring them to take an interest in family history.
“She was very, very family-oriented,” Stacey said. “Her husband, kids, and grandkids came before anything. We were a very close knit family. We even vacationed together. You never saw Mom without us.”
Much of Paula’s outreach to others was done quietly.
“Mom was the kindest woman you’d ever meet,” Stacey recalled. “She helped others behind the scenes because she didn’t want a lot of attention. You never met a better person. She was very faithful. She was adamant that no one be angry over her illness and passing. She said her faith is what got her through cancer.”
Lifelong friend and cousin, Diadena Perry, cherishes memories of happy times the two spent together.
“Paula’s friendship was just like having a sister,” Perry recalled. “She was so funny to be around and had such great talent. She quilted and could do some of the most awesome stitches. She taught me how to make Memorial Day flowers. I’ll miss her on a daily basis.”
A full obituary for Paula Stephens is on page A5 of this week’s edition of The Voice.