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George Watson Stevenson
IT is right that we drop a tear for our departed dead; it is
beautiful that we cherish their memory. But the world at large is, by reason of the domination of pure
instinct in relationship to death, very much astray
with regard to death. We can understand the reluctance with which the average human being approaches death, because sometimes it is associated with great pain, sometimes with very great anguish. But death, itself, is beautiful. We should appreciate the privilege, somewhere, sometime, of lying down and resting, when this body is worn out, and there comes controversy between the spirit and the flesh, and the flesh rebels under the burdens imposed upon it by the spirit; when it becomes a burden and a strain and a tension to live, it is good to die. Death is the supreme and infallible physician. Death is the one anodyne that soothes all our pain and lulls into sweet oblivion all our problems, and lifts with gentle hands, from mind and heart and flesh, all our burdens. Death came to the late Dr. George Watson Stevenson, for many years a prominent and successful physician of Cleveland, Ohio, with a lovely pertinency, when the body was declining, but before the veil had been let down in front of his vision.
Doctor Stevenson was born in the city of Cleveland, October 16, 1846, and here he was content to spend his life. He took pride in the growth of his native city and saw it develop from an insignificant frontier town to one of the foremost metropolises of the Western Hemisphere. He was a son of William and Sarah A. (Magee) Stevenson. The father was born in England, where he spent his earlier years, finally immigrating to America and married, his wife being a native of the State of New York. He was a ship builder by trade and eventually engaged in the business extensively as a member of the firm of Stevenson and Laffanier, a well-known ship-building concern of Cleveland a generation ago, many of the best-known lake steamers of his time being built by this firm. These parents resided in Cleveland many years. They are both deceased. George W. was the eldest of their three children. Frank I., another son, is living in Perry, Lake County, Ohio. Mrs. Fannie M. Williams, the only daughter, lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Dr. George W. Stevenson grew to manhood in Cleveland, where he attended the public schools, later taking a course in the Spencerian Business College; but instead of entering upon a business career, he decided to gratify an ambition of long standing and equip himself for the medical profession. With this end in view he entered the Western Reserve Medical College, in which he made a most excellent record and from which institution he was graduated, ranking high in his class, in 1872. He believed in thoroughness, in properly finishing whatever he attempted, and he did not leave any of the schools he attended until his graduation. This attribute of close application and thoroughness
proved to be one of the main factors in his great success as a professional man in later life.
After his graduation from the historic medical institution mentioned above, Doctor Stevenson at once began the practice of his profession in his home city, and was successful from the first. He built up a large and lucrative practice and for many years ranked with the leading surgeons and general physicians of Ohio. He was frequently sought in consultation by other doctors on serious and baffling cases, and his advice was invariably followed with gratifying results. He remained a close student of all that pertained to his profession and therefore kept well advanced of the times. He was the first resident physician of Lakeside Hospital.
Doctor Stevenson was a member of the American Medical Association, the Ohio State Medical Society, and the Cleveland Academy of Medicine, in all of which he took an abiding interest. His addresses before the various meetings of his professional brethren were always eagerly listened to, for what he said on any theme was regarded as authority. The last three years of his life were spent in retirement from professional labors, for he had been in failing health some four years prior to his death, which occurred on September 13, 1916.
Fraternally, Doctor Stevenson was a member of Honoria and Banner lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he was active, having passed the chairs in the same. Politically, he was a stanch Republican, and while he never sought political leadership, preferring to devote his attention exclusively to his profession and his home, he nevertheless took an active interest in party affairs and was very influential in the same, and helped to put his friends—always good men—in office. He believed in honesty in public life the same as in all other spheres. He had been a member of the Franklin Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Cleveland, from boyhood, and was a faithful supporter of the same all his life, and regular in his attendance when professional duties would permit. He was a broad-minded man and liberal in his views. He was never self-centered or ostentatious, but always companionable, genial, helpful, and kind. He gave freely of both his time and means to worthy charitable and other movements for the general good of his fellows. For recreation he loved hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. He could appreciate the beauties of nature to the full. But he was first and foremost a home man, and was happiest when by his own fireside with his family, whose every want he tried to anticipate and meet.
Doctor Stevenson was married twice, first to Alice Little. To this union one son was born—Frank Stevenson, a bright, promising young man, whose untimely death occurred shortly after his graduation from the Western Reserve Medical College. The doctor's second marriage was with Elsie A. Bills, and took place in Cleveland on August 11, 1897. She is a daughter of Stephen W. and Hattie J. (Potchen) Bills, natives of Ohio and Connecticut, respectively. The father was for many years one of the leading
agriculturists of Huron County, Ohio, and a prominent man in his locality. He was an influential member of the Masonic Order. Mr. and Mrs. Bills are both deceased. Their family consisted of six children, four of whom are still living, namely, Mrs. O. H. Shaw, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Maurice K. Bills, of Elyria, Ohio; Ferman P. Bills, of Toledo, Ohio, and Elsie A., who married Doctor Stevenson of this memoir. These children received good educational advantages and are well situated in life.
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