Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


December 18, 2012

Family, friends remember Chuck Stevens

TEUTOPOLIS — Associates and family members of the late Chuck Stevens are remembering him as an honest, personable man who built a global manufacturing business from modest beginnings.

"He always had time for people," said longtime Stevens Industries employee Bill Buenker. "He'd always ask about your family and was even helpful to me after I retired. I will remember him as a good friend above all else."

Stevens, who died Tuesday at age 78, began building cabinets for homes in 1956 out of a two-car garage in Teutopolis. By the time he retired in 1998, the company was engaged in building both commercial cabinetry and original equipment that would be sold to other cabinet manufacturers. What began as a one-man operation grew into a company that employed more than 500 people.

Buenker, who spent 47 years at Stevens Industries before retiring as a customer service representative, said Stevens was a master at providing solutions for his customers.

"Chuck was real innovative," he said. "We always had the newest machinery. Sometimes we bought it and other times we created our own."

When Buenker started working for Stevens as a Teutopolis High School senior in 1962, Stevens and a small crew were building cabinets for homes with a 100-mile radius of Teutopolis. One of the first projects young Buenker was involved in was construction of the new plant on Main Street in Teutopolis. That building is now occupied by ARC-Community Support Systems.

After building a series of additions to the block building on Main Street, Stevens began branching out into commercial cabinetry - and original equipment that other manufacturers would use in their work. Longtime employee Gary Wente remembered when the transition began.

"I remember the day Chuck sat down with us and said we were either going to sink and swim," Wente said.

Soon thereafter, Stevens moved his operation from what is now the ARC building into a much larger plant directly west of the old plant. After several additions, the company is still there today.

Wente added Stevens was more than just a boss to his longtime associates.

"He treated everybody like family, especially us old guys who got started with him," he said.

Daughter Laura Stevens Hardiek said her dad was a devoted boss.

"He had an incredible love for the people who worked for him," Hardiek said. "He just thought the people who worked for him were it."

Even though Stevens spent more than four decades building a global business enterprise, Hardiek said he still made plenty of time for his family.

"He shared his love for nature with us," Hardiek said.

In retirement, Stevens had the time to become even more engaged with his family, which included wife Martha, who he married in 1957; seven children; 20 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

"He would make wooden furniture for the kids and wooden toys for the grandkids," Hardiek said.

Hardiek said her dad never really gave up woodworking.

"He had a large woodworking facility behind the house, where he would make furniture and cabinets," she said.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.

Text Only
  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 10, 2014

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.