As the first Executive Director of Boys Club in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hal Stephens is one of the figureheads of what is now Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. Stephens was a graduate of Morristown High School where he met his long-time wife, Ann. After high school, Stephens went on to attend Duke University, where he played both Football and Basketball for the school. Initially, Stephens worked for the Boys Club of Elizabeth City, North Carolina for five years before moving to Knoxville to open a new club. When Stephens was not running the Boys Club of Knoxville, he participated in various civic groups like the Optimist Club chapter in Knoxville, where he was a fifty-eight-year member with perfect attendance for fifty-six years. He also served as a deacon for a number of years at his church, First Baptist Church of Knoxville.
From its humble beginnings on Vine Avenue in 1943, Stephens helped to grow the Boys Club of Knoxville and set the groundwork for what the organization has become today. Stephens transitioned the club from its original location to a larger building on Caswell Avenue in June of 1955, serving 2,400 boys annually. The Club at Caswell Avenue has helped enrich the lives of thousands of boys and girls for the last half-century. In addition to the Caswell Club, Stephens helped to secure land in South Knoxville to build and develop the South Knoxville Community Center. This building has been used by the Boys Club, Girls Club, Knoxville Recreation Department, and the Community Action Committee (CAC). This purchase led to the opening of the club’s Vestal location, which is still in operation to this day. Hal Stephens worked tirelessly to ensure that more and more young boys in Knoxville would have a safe and fun environment to learn and play. His legacy as a leader of boys in Knoxville lives on through civic leaders such as Judge Tim Irwin, D.D. Lewis, and Sam Furrow. By growing the Boys Club of Knoxville from 1 member to over 1,200 members, Hal Stephens laid the groundwork for an organization that has a positive effect on countless boys and girls in Knoxville.
In his capacity as executive director of The Boys Club of Knoxville, Stephens chaired a number of regional committees and was Chairman of the Southeastern Conference of Boys Clubs. Stephens was truly committed to the development of young people, especially in Knoxville. His example of leadership is transcendent, and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley have continued to look to past leaders like Stephens for guidance.
Hal Stephens was an excellent writer, engraver, and enjoyed playing golf. He was very proud of being a descendent of John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee. Stephens even portrayed John Sevier on WBIR’s The Heartland Series.
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley appreciate Hal Stephens for his commitment to youth development in Knox County and recognize that we would not be able to make such a monumental impact on the lives of the youth if pioneers like Hal Stephens had not come first.