Robert Fyfe Stephens

PEABODY, Mass. – Robert Fyfe Stephens, 89, of Peabody, Mass., and formerly of Marblehead, Mass., died peacefully Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, at his residence with his family by his side. He was the devoted husband of Dorothy (Lawrence) Stephens.

He was born and raised in Michigan, the son of the late John H. and Marjorie (Wells) Stephens and in 1942 entered the U.S. Army during World War II, serving four years until his discharge in 1946. He attended Rutgers University, where he studied pre-medicine; received his BA from Washington and Lee University and his MA and PhD from the University of Michigan in political science.

Robert started working with the U.S. State Department, Washington D.C., as a foreign service officer in 1953. He served as vice consul and cultural affairs officer in Nairobi, Kenya, and later as chief of the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Bureau of Cultural Affairs. In 1964 he became associate director of the East African Studies program at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, and in 1969 the assistant director of the International Development Studies Program with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He became president of the Potomac Research Institute in Washington, D.C. in 1978 and in 1994 began working as a development associate with the School of Education at Boston University.

He devoted his life to international education in Africa and Indonesia. His upcoming book, “The Kenyan Student Airlifts to America: An Educational Odyssey 19591961, was released in mid December 2013, by East African Educational Publishers. Author proceeds will go to the Kelly Elizabeth Stephens Endowment Scholarship Fund at Boston University School of Education.

Robert enjoyed sailing, tennis, squash, painting, listening to classical music, traveling, and attending family gatherings. For many years he owned and operated the Antilles Yachting Services in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He also sailed on Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Chesapeake Bay, and in the waters around Marblehead.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; a son and daughter-in-law, Robert F. Jr. and Gail Stephens of Mattapoisett, Mass.; a daughter and son-in-law, Laurie Stephens and Douglas Ward of Hood River, Ore.; his six grandchildren, Kerry Martin (married to Brad Martin), Robert Tate (married to Marie Tate), Grace and Marina Stephens; and Ryan and Casey Ward; eight great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. He was the father of the late Cathleen Stephens-Ellis of Virginia and Kelly Stephens of Indonesia, and brother of the late John W. Stephens.

A private family service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in his memory to the Kelly Elizabeth Stephens Endowment Scholarship Fund, Boston University School of Education, Two Silber Way, Boston, Mass., 02215. Assisting the family is the Conway, Cahill-Brodeur Funeral Home 82 Lynn St., Peabody, Mass.